Richard's top tips for May
Grassed off. Fed up with bald patches in the lawn. Now’s the last chance to repair them before the summer. Loosen the soil with a rake, mix some seed with compost and spread it over the bare patch. Gently firm, water and see the difference in just 14 days.
Get tough. Harden off fuchsias, geraniums and other bedding plants before planting out in the garden. Put them outside on warm days but bring in at night. Once the last frosts have finished, they can be planted out for the summer.
Happier houseplants. For healthier and better looking indoor plants, feed them once a week from now until August. Use Miracle-Gro for green plants or Flower Power for flowering plants and cacti.
Basil Faulty? This wonderfully aromatic herb hates the cold so if you grow it too early in the season, it always struggles. It’s much better to wait until mid-May before sowing basil seeds/buying young plants from garden centres. Pot them on as they grow, and place some near tomato plants to keep whitefly away.
Do a runner? For the true taste of the most delicious flavour packed runner beans, you have to grow your own. Sow some seeds now, planting two per cane. The seedlings will take a few weeks to appear but will then romp up the canes and produce bumper crops from August onwards.
Pretty poly’s. Once this year’s polyanthus and primroses have finished flowering, dig up the plants and divide them into smaller sections. Replant these in a shady part of the garden and you’ll get an even bigger and better display next year.
Get Bedding. It should be safe to plant out tender bedding including geraniums and fuchsias in all but the colder parts of the country. Watch the weather forecasts for any unexpectedly late frosts – in which case cover the plants overnight with a protective layer of fleece.
Stodgy compost. Piling lots of grass clippings on to the compost heap can turn it stale and smelly. Simply add a layer of screwed up balls of newspaper to the heap every time you empty the grass box, and your compost should turn out a treat.
Cut back daffs. If your daffs flowered more than six weeks ago, they will have grown good sized new bulbs by now so you can cut off those untidy leaves. The bulbs can be left in the ground or dug up and stored somewhere dry indoors during the summer.
Veg out. The weather’s now warm enough for tomatoes, courgettes and peppers to be planted outside. All do well in pots, growbags or in good, well drained soil in the garden border. For quickest crops, buy young plants from the garden centre rather than starting them off from seed.
Cracking citrus. Move orange, lemon and lime plants outside for the summer. For lots of fragrant flowers and a bumper crop of fruits, feed them once a week with Chempak no 2 fertiliser.
Sweet peas. Keep sweet peas well watered or the buds may drop off in dry weather. Once they start blooming, pick them regularly to produce even more flowers during the summer.