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It’s May already! We at the Kitchen Garden love May. Not only do we have the gorgeousness of things like Alliums, Geums and Camassia to feast our eyes on, but it’s also beginning to warm up and at the end of the month we can finally put out the seedlings we have been nurturing for so long!

Here at the shop we are adapting to ‘the new normal’ – we are not open to the public yet, but we are continuing to deliver plants, herbs and gardening paraphernalia to our lovely customers. We have a fabulous range of spring flowering plants to choose from and don’t worry if you haven’t had a chance to sow seeds – we also have a range of organic veggie seedlings. If you would like to see what’s available then take a look at this link:

In terms of our gardens – there’s certainly plenty to be getting on with. As the weather warms up, you will notice that you are needing to mow, mow, and mow some more. Lower the blades on your mower gradually and maybe add some high nitrogen fertiliser to your lawn care regime. You will also need to start a deadheading routine as your lovely plants start to reward you will flowers – as these fade, gently take off the spent flower heads as this will encourage further flowering. If you leave the flower heads on, the plant will automatically start to set seed once the flowers fade as this is its built in self preservation mechanism. By taking off the heads, you are interrupting this process and the plant will need to produce more flowers in order to set seed!

May is a good time to direct sow annuals such as cosmos bipinatus – make sure that you prepare the area well by raking the soil to a fine tilth (a texture that looks a bit like bread crumbs), scatter the seeds in drifts to create a natural looking effect and gently rake the soil to cover the seeds. You will need to water the area well and repeat if the weather stays dry. You should notice tiny seedlings once the seeds germinate and within about 6-8 weeks you will have gorgeous bobbing flowers. Cosmos can grow quite tall and may need staking later on.

Another great thing to be doing at this time of year is taking softwood cuttings. As your perennial plants put on a huge amount of growth at this time, you will notice soft bendy new plant material and this is what you want to take. Before you start, mix some compost with horticultural grit to create a free draining growing medium and fill a couple of pots ready to rehouse your new cuttings.

Make sure that you take cuttings first thing in the morning, as this is when the plant is turgid and full of water. select a good piece of material and cut it cleanly just underneath a leaf node (where the leaf comes out the stem). You need about 15cm of material. Take the cutting directly to your work station and if at all possible, prepare your cuttings straight away. If you haven’t got time to do it immediately, then place the plant material into ta sealed plastic bag.

When you are ready, you need to take most of the leaves off your plant material – leaving a couple at the top and then cut your piece down to about 8-10cm. If you have any, you can dip the end of your cutting into hormone rooting powder – but don’t worry if you don’t have any handy – most cuttings will root without it. Then place your cuttings around the edge of the pots, gently water and cover with a polythene bag before placing somewhere warm but out of direct sunlight. At least once a week, take off the bag and let some air circulate around your cuttings before replacing it. Don’t let your cuttings dry out and you can also mist them regularly if you want. In about 8 weeks you will notice roots appearing out of the bottom of the pot and at that point you should repot each of your cuttings into their own individual pots to continue their growth.

What ever you do in your garden in May – even if it’s just snoozing in the sunshine – enjoy!

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