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Gardening Advice Blog

Welcome to the CountryLife Gardening Blog, written by our horticulturist to provide you with the best tips & advice for all things gardening!  We have been shortlisted for Best Lifestyle Blog in the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016 Company Category. 

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May in the garden

by User Not Found | Apr 30, 2014

The weather is finally improving and we are getting to one of the busiest months in gardeners calendar. Plan out your gardening jobs well and reward yourself in the evening with a BBQ. 

Flowers

Plant up hanging baskets, and leave them in a sheltered spot before hanging fully outside. You can also still plant Dahlia tubers,canna roots and other Summer flowering bulbs. If they look withered after the winter soak them in overnight before planting. If your daffodil beds are overcrowded you will have to divide and re-plant them.

Stake any plants that will need a support during the summer months. Now is a good time to create tripods or any other supporting constructions for your peas, runner beans and sweet pea.

Prune and remove dead foliage. Early flowering clematis which has finished flowering can now be pruned back. Make a note of the bulbs that have finished flowering such as daffodils. Their foliage cannot be removed for at least 6 weeks. You have to be patient because the plant needs to replenish its resources for good flowers next year.

Keep the roses healthy. Now that the leaves of roses have emerged you can begin to spray them once every 14 days to ward off blackspot and greenfly. Rose clear is the perfect product for this as it treats both pests and disease.


Greenhouse

Busy greenhouse. Now is a good time to sow summer crops like sweet peppers, aubergines, salads and tomatoes. Your plants will need to be looked after for water and cover with fleece if there is frost forcast. Do not feed these until they start to produce flowers. You want the roots to be well developed before you feed for flowers. Regularly water crops in pots and growing bags, daily if needed in warm weather and continue to check them for signs of pests.

Fruit & Veg

Feeding time. Strawberries should be starting to show signs of flowering. This is the perfect time to start feeding them a high potash feed such as sulphate of potash or tomato feed. Tomatoes will be a little later to flower but don’t start feeding these until they show sign of flowering. Tomato food, miracle-gro and grosure feeds are also suitable to feed your bedding plants as it is high in potash.

Thin out seedlings that were planted earlier in the season such as bedding and transplant into bigger pots. Ideally, don’t thin carrots and parsnips as this attracts the dreaded carrot root fly. If you don’t thin them you will have lots of thin carrots instead of fewer big ones…small carrots are tastier and great in salads.

Fight weeds. Hoe around vegetable beds as young weeds emerge. It’s far easier to do this now than when weeds establish roots. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients light and water so is very important to keep them to a minimum. Hoeing is best done on a dry day so that the weeds will not recover.

Planting and sowing. Wait until the end of the month to plant out crops being raised in pots under glass, it such as marrows, courgettes. Tomatoes, aubergines and peppers are best kept in the green house or tunnel. The Irish weather is so changeable that it’s best not to chance growing these outside. Sow salads, spring onion spinach and beetroot from seed or plants. You can buy these in any CountryLife store. Tip: Use the space between the peas tripods to sow shade tolerant vegetables like mustards or kale.


Around the Garden

Lawn care. Don’t forget to treat your lawn for moss and weeds and also give it a feed. Evergreen complete does all this for you. It is a feed, weed and moss killer that you apply a couple of times a year. Apply it now and later in the Summer. Make sure the blade of the lawn mower is high so the lawn isn’t being cut too tight. Moss is harder to control if the lawn is cut too short.

War on slugs. The best way to get rid of slugs is to use pet-friendly slug pellets or organic slug defence gel. Slug & snail traps are also an effective way of controlling them. You can also protect your plants by sticking copper tape around your pots and raised beds. The copper tape burns their belly so they won’t cross over it.

Turn your attention to the shrubs and trees. Make sure that the shrubs and trees planted in the last few years have a circle of clear earth around them. You can use compost or bark to keep the area neat and tidy. It will help the plants to absorb water and reduce competition from weeds and grass. Cut dead wood on shrubs using sharp secateurs to tidy them up for the season. Make a clean cut because if you leave any pegs or snags they may attract fungal diseases. Twist off the dead flower heads of rhododendrons and azaleas and mulch with composted bark, leaf mould and add acid fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro ericaceous feed. Newly planted trees and shrubs should be kept watered until the end of the season.

Jean’s Bio 
Hi my name is Jean, I am a horticulturist with CountryLife in the Ashford branch. I grew up on a farm where we always had a veg garden, so you could say that horticulture and agriculture is in the blood! I studied Landscape Horticulture in UCD and worked part-time in Fernhill Garden Centre, Athlone while I was in college. After graduating I worked in Landscape Architecture for three years before returning to the Garden Centre trade. I began in Keane’s Garden Centre, Kilcolgan, Co Galway and returned to Fernhill Garden Centre for three years before joining CountryLife.  Being a horticulturalist is a great job, you are surrounded by nature every day and there is always something to be done. Meeting customers and giving the advice is very rewarding especially when they report back positive results. I love growing my own fruit and veg and I’m always trying new varieties and ways of growing. The seasons are always changing and while the weather is challenging in Ireland, I believe we grow the best produce in the world.