It’s ‘leaf catching month’ in the garden!
It is gardening folk-lore, that if you catch a falling leaf before it hits the ground you get one month’s good luck, and even better luck if you happen to catch the last falling leaf on the tree. May is certainly ‘leaf catching month’.
May is also a ‘doing’ time in the garden, for those of us lucky (or unlucky) enough to live in an area with heavy clay soil we can now dig a hole without the use of a crowbar and a mattock. Let the planting begin!
Top 5 vegies to plant in May
Once a vegetable feared by many it has now gourmet status. The tender young beans have such a delicate flavour and are a far cry from the dry pods we remember from our childhood. The new shoots are also particularly tasty, benefiting the plant by encouraging more leaders to develop.
Plant as many as you can fit into the garden, in fact where ever there is a space. Not only do they taste great, but the increase the fertility of the garden soil at the same time. Being a legume they fix nitrogen from the atmosphere in the soil throughout their growth season. So don’t remove the plants at the end of the season, instead break the stalks and lay on the ground.
Is a winter crop and best to get established early when the weather is still a little warmer. The trick to good English Spinach is to grow them fast. With well improved soil and regular feeding the tender leaves will be ready to harvest in a few weeks. Harvest only the number of leaves you need and let the rest grow on. Many recipes call for fresh English Spinach and there is nothing like having your own fresh supply out the backyard.
There is nothing like the sweet taste of home grown peas. My crop never makes it to the table. My children eat every single one as it is picked. Peas are so easy to grow in any part of the garden in the winter and as a legume they have the added bonus of improving the fertility of the soil. When the plants have finished cropping lay flat and they turn into a fabulous mulch to save water and feed the soil.
Take advantage of rainy weather and set seed potatoes in the ground or in a large pot. As the potatoes are shooting keep covering any green shoots over with straw or soil. Potatoes develop tubers along the stems of the plant, which are underground. These stems will form the framework of the plant and the more stems the greater the yield of the plants. Potato plants will benefit from applications of high potassium fertilisers for flowering and fruiting plants such as PowerFeed with Troforte Flowers, Fruit & Citrus. Apply 1 scoop per square metre every 6-8 weeks.
Cyclamens are an easy to grow winter flowering bulb, which also produce some of the most delicately patterned foliage, a feature in itself. These bulbs are the perfect gift for Mother’s Day. They will continue to flower for months if kept in a well, lit position through the day and kicked outside for the night at least 4 nights a week. The reason they go outside is they require cool night temperatures to perform at their best and will continue to flower for months if looked after well. Remove spent flower heads and fertilise with liquid PowerFeed (50mL per 9 litres of water) and Seasol (30mL per 9 litres of water) every two to four weeks.
Cyclamen will start to yellow and die back as the weather warms up, usually late October. All that remains after the foliage dies back is a rounded bulb. These can be retained for next season by storing on their side in the pot without water, in a shade house situation in cooler parts of Australia. If you live in warmer areas if they are not watered they will dehydrate completely, so it’s recommended to keep upright in a cooler situation where they receive a little moisture from time to time.
If you have caught the pruning bug this month grab the hedge shears and take to the Kangaroo paws, which have finished flowering. Kangaroo paws tend to hold onto old leaves and faded flower stalks making them look less than attractive.
Trim them back to ground level, remove dead and diseased foliage and apply PowerFeed Controlled Release Plant Food All Purpose including Natives around the plant. If the clump is large it can be split over the next few months.
Dividing Kangaroo Paws is the same process as dividing Agapanthus or any other clumping perennials. Firstly, dig the plant out of the soil and then remove the majority of the soil around the roots. Then, look for natural breaks and either uses a sharp kitchen knife, a pruning saw or a sharpened blade of a spade. Soak pieces in Seasol solution (30mL per 9 litres of water) for at least 15 minutes before planting. Plant these pieces into soil that has had a little blood and bone and soil improver added.
If you have 10 minutes spare this weekend
Spray stone fruit with a copper based spray as the leaves drop. Peaches, nectarines and apricots will benefit from this last fungicide spray before winter. It reduces the number of spores that overwinter under the bud scales. Peach Leaf Curl affects nectarines and peaches and causes severe distortion of the leaves and in bad cases the fruit. Apricots suffer from Shothole and Freckle, both of these will affect the fruit.