- © RHS/Jacquie Gray
- © RHS/Tim Sandall
May's must do jobs
* Net soft-fruit plants, to prevent birds gorging themselves on your crops in the summer.
* Cut back late-flowering perennials to create compact plants that will produce more, but smaller, flowers (the so-called “Chelsea chop”). For sedums, this will prevent the plants flopping in late summer and autumn.
* Earth up any early potatoes: mound the soil over the foliage once it has reached about 10cm in height. This will increase the eventual crop of potatoes. It can be repeated once or twice more at two- to three-week intervals.
* Keep on top of weeds as much as possible by digging or hoeing them out rather than using weedkiller.
* Look at how you can save water for the summer. You may be able to install water butts or an irrigation system, or otherwise recycle water for use in the garden.
* Plant runner beans. They are one of the easiest and most rewarding vegetables. Add garden compost or other organic material in a trench where you plant them, set up your supports, then plant the small runner bean plants around each pole. Keep well-watered and they should produce huge crops throughout the summer.
* Put in supports for tall perennials at the back of your bed or border.
* Plant up hanging baskets. You could even make edible baskets with trailing tomatoes and rainbow chard etc. On warm days, open greenhouse doors and vents to give some fresh air to any seedlings or other plants that you may be keeping there.
Other things to do in May
* Visit the Chelsea Flower Show (24-28 May 2011) for the ultimate in inspiration. Buy your tickets now (0844 338 7505; rhs.org.uk/shows-events) as the show always sells out.
* Take a trip to a bluebell wood - a mesmeric sea of blue flowers this month.
* May is a peak time for gardens. So have a look in the National Garden Scheme’s “Yellow book” for stunning gardens of all sizes in your area that are open during the month (ngs.org.uk).