“Last year’s wet summer, followed by one of the warmest winters on record, has helped to create a generation of sleepless slugs, wildlife experts have warned.”
It looks as if it will be a good year for the slugs and a bad year for us gardeners as a result looking at this report
It’s an interesting read that covers the what, the why and what gardeners can do to protect plants. Oh and it mentions some plants that slugs don’t like – maybe not useful ones on the allotment though.
And sadly, the conditions that are so good for slugs and the very ones that are bad for bees which we need as pollinators for our crops.
What you can do in May really rather depends on what you have managed to do in April.
This year April (2016) has ended with a flourish of winter weather, snow, frost, wind, rain and cold after gardeners have been waiting for the soil to dry out following the winter floods in northern regions. Of course there were a few days of real spring before this just to fool all gardeners and allotment holders.
So of course this soil is not suitable for planting out more tender crops which means that we shall all be somewhat behind this year. This may well mean that your greenhouse, cold frame and home window sills are still full of seedlings which are being nurtured prior to hardening off and planting out or putting into a cool greenhouse.
As the National Allotment Society says of May, it can be a month when summer comes and you need to take care to protect your seedlings from sun and drought or it can be “a complete disaster bringing damaging frosts, cold winds with heavy rain or hail” which means that you need to use other forms of protection. But the advice that they give for a traditional May should be a guide to what we should be doing on the allotment.
A much more detailed account of what can be done on the allotment can be found here – again there is the advice to be careful with the weather as some crops are ones where you only grow a few (courgettes, marrows, pumpkins). There is also advice for the greenhouse here. There are quoted here a couple of proverbs – Welsh and English – which really do apply for this year.
It really should be the start of the busy period of sowing if the weather has been kindly in March and allowed you to get all the preparation done. But despite April being the go for it month there is always the word of caution – in the North East we know that chilly nights still abound and that the ground may not be as warm as in more southerly parts of the UK. One of your best guides is the appearance of annual weeds – once they begin to thrive the soil is really warm enough to plant.
Anyway – advice from The National Allotment Society and from the RHS and from a well known allotment site. A good source of advice is often written on the seed packet of the crop that you want to grow. How many times will an experienced gardener ask you if that was written on the seed packet!
Don’t many gardeners and allotment holders make their own compost to help improve and care for their soil?
Well then – there are competitions for you to enter to show off your skills. The National Allotments Association is promoting Compost Awareness Week 1 – 7 May 2016 with many ideas for competitions!
There are also ideas for the use of home made compost to be used as part of seed composts and planting mediums. Many gardeners do follow the practices suggested but they will keep a spare microwave for sterilization as it’s not something that mixes very well with normal household catering. These are people who prefer to use peat free compost and find that the work involved in producing their own provides a better compost than the commercially sold peat free composts.
A cost effective way of improving your soil with”stuff” that you already have or can gather.
There is no magic in compost making on the vegetable plot or in the flower garden.
What you need is the basic know how and then to build up experience by doing it.
And when your compost heap is well rotted, then you have your very own home made soil improver at no cost to your purse whilst saving sending all those useful elements such as vegetable peelings, weeds, dead flower heads and such to the tip.
Dig it in come autumn to help with the fertility of your soil for the next season.