Plant lobelia into cracks in a wall and they’ll drape down like a colourful waterfall - Credit: pixabay
Plant lobelia into cracks in a wall and they’ll drape down like a colourful waterfall - Credit: pixabay

Gardening: Simple tricks will save you time and effort later - Pat Duke

Torbay Weekly

The middle of May is when the garden can start to feel like its overtaking the time you have to keep on top of it (Writes Pat Duke).

The temperature is rising and the days are much longer, so going out there after work is a great option to help relax and forget about office politics or suffocating bureaucracy.

You might even want to fire up the barbecue on a Monday night.

Simple tricks like tying in climbers and putting supports in place for taller perennials will save you time and effort later, especially if it’s windy at some point.

Many of us have been rummaging around in the back of the shed for that box of plant food as it’s time to give everything a feed where you can.

Gardeners are the only group of people thankful for the rain we had at the weekend.

If you have any gaps in the flower beds plant them up with summer bedding plants like begonias, busy lizzies, antirrhinums and lobelias.

You can plant lobelias into cracks in the wall and they’ll drape down like a colourful waterfall.

You can buy a tray of mixed colours for not too much if you haven’t grown from seed.

Growing from seed is ridiculously economical but its at this time of year you can get caught out if, like me, you might not have been as organised as usual.

A quick walk round with the secateurs or shears will help tidy up and remove ugly foliage from spring bulbs like daffodils and bluebells.

You might find there will be more room for bedding plants then too.

If you have the time it’s an idea to gently clip evergreen hedges at this time of year to keep them looking sharp and remind them who’s garden it is.

If you have fences as borders, you could plant clematis at the bases of them for a wall of colour later in the season.

On the plot

The recent rain will have spurred on the weeds and hopefully the potatoes too.

Go round and check weeds haven’t appeared overnight – like they do – so that all the nutrients can reach what you’re choosing to grow.

Thin out seedlings leaving only the strongest before planting them in their final destination.

Start to prepare the strawberry bed by pulling off the dead and brown leaves and adding a general fertiliser to help with fruit production.

It’s odd that whenever I do this job there seems to be a large contingent of local birds taking a keen interest, particularly blackbirds and robins, who seem to know what is coming.

Give them a bit of time to pick at what you’ve disturbed and then net the strawberries or you know what will happen! Slugs also love strawberries so put in traps or whatever deterrents you use, even if like me, its the midnight raid with a torch on a wet night.

It’s now warm enough to sow sweetcorn in the ground.

It’s such an easy and impressive plant to grow but plant them in squares or grids as they need the wind to pollinate.

I usually plant enough for the badgers, too, and this seems to provide enough for us both without falling out.

It’s worth remembering that as everything starts to grow then it provides a flourishing environment for pests too.

Blackfly on broad beans are inevitable and snails can march in great numbers so keep up the checking regime and deal with them suitably.

There’s nothing worse than nurturing, feeding and watering plants only to find a stalk one morning because you didn’t look under a pot the night before.

I had some slugs act as stowaways in some compost and appeared upstairs in the potted chilli plants. That required an awkward explanation when they were half way up the wallpaper.