The May diary | The Voice of the Allotment


Barry Cuff says a warm, damp spring means slugs and weeds – but also strawberries!

The lettuce has enjoyed the warm damp spring.
All images: Barry Cuff

May was a very busy month, both on the plot and in the greenhouses. With more than four inches of rain and fairly warm conditions, good growth was ensured, and flushes of weed seedlings kept the hoe busy! One of our ‘special’ weeds is thornapple, which has quite distinctive seedlings. When these started to appear on the 8th it was a good sign that the soil was warm enough for the more tender vegetables to go out.
So far, 2024 has been the year of the slug! Together with snails they have been active since February, and unusually they have even attacked plants like rhubarb, which they usually avoid. Pigeons have been another major pest this spring.

On the allotment in May:

1st – Plant up 20 tomatoes in large pots. Sown in individual small pots: six Crown Prince squash, six Butterfly squash, five Defender courgette and two Astia courgette, all in the greenhouse.
2nd – Cut paths, put straw under strawberries and cover with a net. Greenhouse – sow ten seeds of Cornichon de Paris gherkins.
4th – A cutworm has attacked a few lettuce. Harvest the tub-grown Jazzy potato: 19 tubers of varying sizes. Most of these were eaten with our evening meal – absolutely delicious with butter!
5th – Hand weeding, and prepare the ground for the first two lines of peas.
6th – Plant out second batch of Little Gem lettuce, and sow a patch of Scarlet Globe radish. Plant out the last of the onion seedlings – these will be used as spring onions. Sow Moonshine and Scarlet Emperor runner beans in the greenhouse.
7th – Put twine around broad beans for support.
8th – Sow 20 seeds of White Step cauliflower and 30 seeds of Safari dwarf French bean in the greenhouse.
9th – Pump water from the well (mainly being used in the greenhouses on the site)
10th – Sow 20 seeds Cheesy cauliflower and 36 seeds of Swift sweetcorn. This is a second batch, as those sown in April are a little slow.

trawberry picking began on 24th May

12th – Prepare the ground for two lines of peas, more weeding, and feed the garlic and onions.
13th – Put net cloches over first two rows of peas.
15th – Sow 20 seeds of Cendis cauliflower and 15 seeds of Rudolph purple sprouting broccoli in the greenhouse. Tie and remove tomato side shoots. Hand weed the parsnip.
16th – Thin celery and celeriac seedlings in plugs. Another plot holder gave us two Butterfly squash plants as we had poor germination. Runner beans into the cold frame. Pull some spring onions.
17th – Sow 20 seeds of Ironman and 15 seeds of Atlantis calabrese in the greenhouse.
18th – Pump water for site. Weed raspberry canes. See we have lost two potatoes due to ant damage – we lose a few each year as ants nest on the roots.
19th – Harden celery and celeriac.
21st – Sow about 30 seeds of Nautica dwarf French beans (as Safari had poor emergence). Cut the hedgebank. Put more twine around broad beans.
22nd – Harden sweetcorn. Cut lettuce. Cut chicons for their fourth cut.
23rd – Erect canes for runner beans. Dug skulkers* from the next area to be planted.
24th – Patch first three rows of peas. Sow a line of Johan pea and half line of Carouby de Massaune mangetout pea. Pick first bunch of Sweet William and the first strawberries! Hand weed and thin parsnips.

At the end of the month most crops are looking exceptionally well

26th – Plant out 30 Moonshine and 20 Scarlet Emperor runner beans.
27th – Pull spring onions, cut lettuce. Delicious skulkers for dinner.
28th – Plant out about 70 Swift sweetcorn, weeding. Pick strawberries.
29th – Plant out Astia and Defender courgettes.Plant out Crown Prince and Butterfly winter squash.
30th – Pinch out tops of broad beans to aid pod production. Very little blackfly, but large numbers of Ladybirds. Taking side shoots from tomatoes
At the end of the month most crops are looking exceptionally well.

  • Dorset term for potatoes accidentally left in the ground from the previous year.

sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:

More like this

Save the bruisewort?

If you didn’t mow in May, you will have...

Here comes summer (already?)

It’s June - which means roses! But also that...

Charlotte’s A to Z of gardening

Gardening has its own large vocabulary, and when you...

Where young minds grow

There is an air of new season excitement...