This is the ideal time for outdoor sowings of a number of seed varieties, plus, with the warmer weather, the raising of foliage plants. Preparation of the ground for bedding plants can now be done, as well as thinning out plants that have already been sown. And the ideal time to prepare the greenhouse against hot days by either using shade netting or a shade paint.
  • Inspect fruit bushes and trees for pest and diseases, and treat as necessary. As new canes of raspberries and blackberries appear tie to support wires, but remember to keep them away from last year’s growth as this will flower and fruit this summer.
  • It is a good idea to drape netting over soft fruit bushes such as currants, as well as strawberries which are either growing in rows or containers, to prevent birds, especially blackbirds, from stripping unprotected plants of their fruit.
  • Strawberry crops that have been kept under glass, cloches or fleece should now be uncovered so that pollinating insects can gain access. Also if strawberries are being grown in a greenhouse open doors fully now.
Flowers, Roses & Bulbs
  • To encourage strong growth along with a good flower display sprinkle rose fertiliser around the roots. If it doesn’t rain during the first week or two gently water in or use a hoe being careful not to harm the roots.
  • Remove any dead foliage from spring flowering bulbs, with the exception of daffodils and tulips which could be left a little longer but do take off any seed-heads that may appear. However, if possible, it is best to allow the foliage to naturally die back.
  • Lilies that are in pots will be growing quickly at this stage of the season, with the flowers starting to develop, and could very well need a few canes for support. Lilies in garden borders may also need to be supported if they are not close to neighbouring plants.
  • The danger of frost will have now hopefully passed, and young bedding plants that have been grown on under protection during spring can be planted outdoors ready for those beautiful displays, or into summer hanging baskets and containers.
  • When using containers or hanging baskets remember not to fill them right up to the top with compost but leave a small gap so that when watering it will soak in and not run over the edges. It will also prove very beneficial to give your potted plants a weekly liquid feed to improve growth and flowering.
  • A number of young plants would also benefit by having their shoot tips pinched out which encourages branching. By pinching out the shoot tips bushier plants develop along with more stems leading to more flowers.
  • The lawn is now growing quickly and should be mowed and trimmed regularly, lowering the cutting height, and watering during dry spells. If you haven’t already had the opportunity, spring/summer lawn fertiliser can be applied to established lawns now.  
  • Plant out greenhouse raised brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, courgettes, cucumbers, marrows, runner and french beans.
  • Beetroot, carrots and lettuce rows can be thinned out and further sowings can be continued. Remember smaller crops will be produced when over-crowded sowings are made, and any unwanted seedlings should be carefully removed.
  • In the case of pumpkins, courgettes and marrows hand pollinate to encourage good fruit set.  Protect carrots from carrot fly and cabbages from caterpillar damage by covering the crop with Enviromesh.
  • To improve pollination for greenhouse tomatoes just tap the flowers. When digging up early potatoes take care not to pierce or damage the tubers.  
The Greenhouse
  • Rooted chrysanthemum cuttings and summer-bedding plants that have been hardened off in the greenhouse can be planted into their flowering places.
  • Don’t let plants wilt so remember to water them regularly.
  • A weekly feed with a high-potash liquid tomato feed should be given to cucumbers, capsicums and aubergines.
  • Prepare for hot days by either using shade netting or a shading paint.