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WAHGA Jobs for May

Updated: May 2, 2023

May is a busy month on the allotment and in the garden, and no more so than this year! With a wet and cool April not as many jobs have been completed as I’d have liked. On the plus side the ground is lovely and moist and warming up every time the sun comes out. The early May forecast is sunshine and showers so at least potatoes and other crops in the ground won’t need watering just yet! And remember, on a warm day find time to sit and relax in your garden or allotment - that's one of the most important jobs!


For spring planting the beds need to be ready now. If you are late to start, don’t worry, prepare the beds as you go, rather than trying to do the whole plot.


May is the time to plant out seedlings sown indoors earlier in the year. Harden them off first by putting them out in the day, and bringing them indoors at night. Hardening off is a physical process where the cell wall hardens with the impact of the outdoor breeze and varying weather conditions. The seedling becomes more resilient to disease and pests. Make sure you water them in well once planted and keep watering regularly until they’re well established.


  • Sweetcorn in grids of four plants to aid cross pollination

  • Courgette/pumpkin/cucumber family - they will cope with a shadier spot

  • Runner beans, french climbing beans and other legumes - they will need canes or netting to climb up.

  • Chard, kohlrabi, celeriac are all ready to go outside

  • Tomatoes - 2021 was the year of blight, 2022 was blight free so who knows what 2023 will bring!

  • Start successional sowing (sowing a row every few weeks) of carrots, radish, spring onions, salad leaves, mange tout, beetroots, and turnips to allow harvesting of young crops through the season.

  • Parsnips and celeriac can sown direct into seed drills outside. They need a long season to mature, and do well sown directly in drills outside.

  • Legume seeds can be planted outside

  • There’s still time to plant asparagus crowns, and you can always try sowing asparagus seeds.

  • Plant out any remaining seed potatoes, continue to ‘earth up’ any emerging shoots with soil, or composted manure, to encourage a larger crop.

  • Sunflowers. We’re looking forward to another year of sunflowers blooming all over the allotments and in Weybridge gardens. Once they get to a 60cm high they will need staking, but don’t do this too soon as swaying in the breeze encourages the sunflower to develop a deep and strong root system. Try some different cultivars, I particularly like the multi-head varieties as they make lovely cut flowers


Unfortunately with all this damp weather the slug and snail population is booming. Look for daytime hidey-holes and think about using nematodes.

  • Check soft fruit and broad beans for aphids; spray the plant with dilute washing up liquid, squish the flies, or wait for the ladybirds! Don’t be tempted to use insecticides as this will kill beneficial insects and bugs as well. Try companion planting with marigolds and nasturtium nearby - these will attract the aphids away from your produce.

  • Protect early strawberries from birds with netting that is wide enough to allow pollinators in.

  • All brassicas need fine netting to protect them from cabbage white butterflies, and the. pigeons will eat brassicas to ground level.

  • Cover soft fruit plants with netting to protect from birds - this can be done after pollination but before any signs of ripening. Summer fruiting raspberries need netting, but autumn fruiting don’t.

  • Watch out for signs of powdery mildew or disease on fruit trees and bushes, and treat with a fungicide.


  • We are well into nesting season so watch out for activity in trees and hedges near you and don’t disturb.

  • Leave water dishes and for the bees and the birds.

  • Continue to sow wild flowers, a few in a section on your plot or garden to encourage pollinators. Try planting asters, camomile, marigolds, oregano, sage, sunflowers, thyme, yarrow and zinnias. The entire Compositae or “daisy” family will attract a number of beneficials including ladybirds.

  • May is the month to enjoy English bluebells in woodland. There are some naturalised swathes in the woods near Garson's farm, along the River Mole.


  • Continue to harvest rhubarb, and watch out for any flower buds. Break these off to prevent the plant putting energy into flowering.

  • May is the month for harvesting asparagus and it's not too late to plant it out if you have asparagus envy!

  • The first strawberries will (hopefully!) be ripening in May

  • The first radishes and baby carrots will be ready. Continue to sow every couple of weeks through to autumn.

  • Salad crops: salad leaves, pea shoots will be ready

  • Edible Flowers: borage and marigold

  • Leafy greens: chard and spinach

  • 1st broad beans (end of the month)


Compost all green matter. Add foliage, leaves and annual weeds to your compost pile, turn the pile to help activate it, and make sure it doesn’t dry out. Comfrey and nettles not only make a good nutritious ‘tea’ for plants, they also act as compost accelerator.


This winter was brutal for a number of well-established ‘hardy’ shrubs: pittosporum defoliated, some hebe died, woody salvia suffered - particularly ‘Hot Lips’, and Cordyline and Yucca went soggy on top! So, if you haven’t done so already, take out any dead or dying shrubs and find some replacements. Small shrubs will establish quickly, and will need less watering than larger versions, and remember they will be needed to be watered through the summer, so a 2 - 5 litre pot shrub will need less watering than a 10 litre pot shrub!

May is usually the time to plant up your pots and hanging baskets for summer colour, but do wait a couple of weeks as the nights are still cool and a late frost is possible. Prune early flowering shrubs once they’ve finished blooming and plant out herbaceous perennials. It’s been a slow start to the year, I’ve found herbaceous plants have taken a bit longer to get going, the traditional ‘Chelsea Chop’ for exuberant plants might need to be delayed until June!

‘No mow May’ was a disaster in my garden, the grass was ruined, and realistically it takes longer than a month to develop wild flowers in a domestic lawn! So instead try and put sections throughout the garden and allotment over to wildlife permanently. Sow wildflowers around your shed, stacks of logs at the back of the beds and borders, an area with leaf piles, a pond for newts, toads and frogs, bird boxes and perhaps a bat box.

Later in the month, whether experienced in person or on the telly, Chelsea Flower Show (22-27 May) provides ideas and inspiration for gardeners, much needed after this winter.



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