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May

Get your winter veg in – if you haven’t already. Be sure to dig the soil over first, apply compost, fertiliser and a dressing of lime to sweeten the soil, encourage plant growth and help prevent club root.

If you have planted your winter vegetables already, don’t forget to plant more to ensure you have a continual supply ready to harvest. We’ve been staggering the planting of our broccoli and other brassicas so we’ve always got some at the ready.

Broccoli, broad beans, carrots, onions, peas, spinach and cauliflower are all good to grow now. Brighten up your garden by planting cool loving flowers like geranium, wallflowers, polyanthus, nemophilla, foxgloves and anything else also currently available from our online store.

If you’re not going to grow any winter veges, try growing a cover crop. Mustard is a good cover crop to grow, but not if you’re planting it where you’ve previously grown brassicas as it’s also a member of the brassica family and if there’s any club root in the soil it will promote it. Another good cover crop is blue lupin, which isn’t a member of the brassica family. When the cover crop has matured, dig it into the soil. This will get the soil all ready for next season’s planting.

Rake up your leaves for composting. But watch out for the leaves from some trees, like black walnuts, which have toxins in their fallen leaves called hydrojuglone that can cause other plants to turn yellow, wilt and die. English walnut, hickory and pecan trees also produce small amounts of hydrojuglone. The best way to collect and compost your other leaves is to first shred them by running over them with a lawn mower. Then tip a layer of leaves into a black plastic rubbish bag, sprinkle over a handful of garden lime and continue the layers until the bag is full. Tie the top of the bag and poke holes all over it. Place it somewhere sunny and leave it to break down. In summer you will have a lovely mulch to apply around your plants.

Pick up your rose leaves and put them in the rubbish so they don’t spread diseases through the soil, which will affect your new growth of your roses in spring. If you like to harvest rose hips (they are the fruit of the plant and have high levels of Vitamin C) or you just like the interest hips add to an autumn garden, now is the time to stop deadheading your roses. This will allow the hips to form and the stems to harden up before winter. Then wait till June to August (the colder it gets where you live, the longer you should wait) to start pruning.

Start to think about creating or adding to your orchard in spring. Weed the areas where you’re going to plant so they’re all ready for when the fruit trees become available from nurseries in June/July.

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