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Posted on 2nd October, 2023
May is seeing all the things that you've nurtured through the winter properly shoot up. It is always a surprise to see how resilient some things are in spite of the extreme cold and thewettest March for the last forty years! Though much has been damaged, it's a good opportunity to see what will work or not in your garden in the future. Kent has a varied range of soil types and ours in West Farleigh is naturally a neutral heavy clay, which is nutrient-rich but not free-draining and this is something to consider whether you are planting Summer displays in borders or vegetables for maximum production. Digging compost or well-rotted manure into our soil breaks it up and gives the roots a chance to spread and maximise the plant. If you have an acid-lover like blueberries, camellia, rhododendron, pieris or azaleas,dead conifer needles are a great mulch and a natural feed when spread around or into the base of the plant. Now is also a good time to aerate your lawns. This helps with soil compaction and prevents waterlogging, allowing nutrients to get to the roots of your grass more effectively. Overseeding will help rejuvenate any tired patches and I've been leaning towards the drought-tolerant varieties for the last couple of years, bearing in mind thevariations in temperature we've encountered.
n the borders
Tender perennials can now be put outside for Summer displays, which clears a huge amount of space in the greenhouse! Creating borders for Summer is one of the things I enjoy most.Though we can still get frost in May, it is currently looking unlikely. This year I'm using as many low maintenance, high impact flowers as possible.Though Petunia are pretty, deadheading can be time-consuming and so my alternative for trailing plants inpots and window boxes will be geranium. The flowers last longer and they tolerate hot, dry conditions better.Deadheading is essential to keep flowers going and feeds can be applied every other week from now to September to keep everything strong and healthy. Annuals such as scabious and zinnia canbe sown directly into any space left tocreate splashes of colour betweenperennials.
In the Veg Patch
Beetroot and salad leaves can be sown directly into shallow drills, as can rocket. Protection from slugs is a must, as they will love the new tender leaves coming through. There are many organic methods available now, but an effective barrier is crushed eggshells. I've also been bringing a lot of the salad leaves on inside before planting out as this can make them bigger and more resilient to attacks. The next (successional) sowing of carrots and spinach can be done and beans can be planted out. Potatoes should be earthed up and fed and leeks can be banked up with earth. This gives a longer white stem. Side shoots of tomatoes can be pinched out and supported with canes as necessary.Tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are really hungry feeders, so I give them a boost every 7-10 days with seaweed extract.It's the last chance to sow courgettes, squashes and pumpkins so they can put on enough growth before Autumn, but again they can be sown straight outside.Strawberry runners should beplanted outthismonth and I've started melon seeds off,so it will be interesting to see if anything comes of these!

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