Greenfingers - May 2016

This year’s display of daffodils and narcissi started very early and has continued in spectacular fashion ever since. To ensure a good show again next year, remove the spent flower heads but leave the greenery and apply a general purpose fertilizer around the roots, encouraging the bulbs to develop. Overcrowded clumps could be lifted and divided.

It’s very satisfying to plant out the chitted potatoes and get them earthed up, but it does help if the ground has had some protection in the form of plastic sheeting to allow it to dry out and warm up, even for just a few days. This benefits the plant, the soil and the gardener. There are many other vegetables which can be started off during May by sowing seed directly or by starting them off under a cloche or in a seed tray in the greenhouse or propagator. Chilli peppers, tomatoes and basil seedsstrawberries were started off during April in a propagator, sweet peas in trays in the greenhouse, and salad seeds under a cloche in the garden.

Other vegetables to be started off in the next few weeks are French beans, courgettes and more salad plants. The strawberries are now growing strongly and would benefit from removing any dead leaves and feeding.

One experiment we tried in the greenhouse over the winter was to fill two old kitchen waste bins with water and cover them with black plastic bags taped into place. These warmed up during the daytime, and kept off frosts at night, and when I checked the water temperature in March, it was over 40°C.

The Minchinhampton Gardening Club Show Schedule will be available in May, with copies generally available in the town, so check it out and start planting, baking or photographing your winning entries.

I may have been guilty in an earlier article of misleading readers with the definition of a ‘Blue Moon’, for which the original appears to be when we have 4 full moons in a season and which occurs every 2.7 years, rather than the more recent definition of 2 full moons within a calendar month. And the full moon on May 21st will be the 4th of this season, offering an excellent reason to celebrate.