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Summer is just around the corner, and there are several gardening jobs which should be done throughout the month of May to keep the garden maintained and ready for the hotter months. Each month gardening expert Monty Don shares different jobs to be getting on with on his blog, and this month, Britons should be deadheading tulips as well as planting tomatoes out in a greenhouse.
1. Pruning early-flowering clematis
Monty wrote: “The best time to prune early-flowering clematis is immediately after they finish flowering. Obviously the timing of this will vary considerably in different parts of the country, but the principle remains constant.
“For many of us this occurs at the end of May. Next year’s flowers are formed on all the new growth made from this period until late summer so if you prune them much later than mid to late June, you’ll be removing potential flowers that would bloom next spring.”
Pruning clematis is solely to maintain their size and spread for your convenience rather than any other reason.
This means gardeners can cut back freely, not worrying about individual stems or the position of the cut.
Once finished, weed around the plant, water it well and mulch generously with garden compost or bark clippings.
2. Deadheading tulips
Tulips are a gorgeous spring plant which are suitable for growing in borders as well as in containers.
They tend to bloom throughout the months of April and May, meaning their flowers will soon come to an end, and they’ll need to be pruned.
Monty said: “If you have tulips growing in borders, deadhead them once they are past their best. This will stop the development of seed so that all the energy goes into forming new bulbs for next year’s bulbs.
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“The best way to deadhead them is simply to snap off the spent flower with the growing seed pod using your fingers.
“Do not cut back the stem or any of the foliage as this will all contribute to the growing of bulbs as they slowly die back.”
Now is a great time to plant out tomatoes in a greenhouse, although gardeners should wait until the end of May for outdoor ones.
This is because tomatoes are sensitive to temperature fluctuations and May nights can still be chilly, even though the days can be warm.
Monty recommended planting them deeply, burying them right up to the bottom leaf to develop extra roots.
The gardening pro added: “As the young plants grow they form shoots between the leaves and the stem and these are known as side shoots.
“They grow with extra vigour and although they do bear trusses of fruit, they take energy from the plant and reduce the overall harvest as well as making a cordon plant straggly, and so they should be removed as they appear.
“The best way to do this is in the morning when the plant is turgid. Simply break them off with your finger and thumb. In the evening they will be limper and may tear so should be cut off with a knife.”
4. Make compost
Making compost at home is a great way to reduce waste as well as helping Britons save money as they won’t need to buy it.
Monty said the “secret” of making compost quickly is to have a good mix of matter high in nitrogen like grass clippings as well as drier material which is high in carbon.
Gardeners should make sure to aerate it often by turning it. The pro noted: “This does not have to be a major operation, just forking it through will help a lot.
“The point is to get oxygen into the heap which in turn feeds the bacteria that eat the decomposing material and convert it into compost which will enrich your soil with essential bacteria, fungi and nutrients better than any product known to man.”
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