Annual Garden Calendar
Leek and Potato Soup
2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
2 small leeks, sliced
6 potatoes, skins on, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large pot. Add the leeks and heat through on low until the leeks are soft.
Add the chopped potatoes, bay leaf, garlic, and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 30 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Mash with a potato masher for a chunky homestyle soup, or blend with a blending stick for a smoother consistency.
Serve with a sprinkling of cheese and crusty bread.
The cooler temperatures in May make for a natural end to pests, and the slowing down of weed growth.
May Planting & Sowing
I’m sowing peas and carrots this month. For a continual crop of greens, you can plant salad greens under cover (greenhouse or cloche) if you have the space. A tip is to warm the soil by creating ridges using nature’s heaters like seaweed and grass clippings to plant into. If your garden really does see a lot of shade during the winter, you could try a few container plantings on your windowsill or deck, just to keep a few winter greens on your plate. Mizuna, rocket and spinach would be perfect for this. Now is a good time to plant strawberries, as they establish well if planted in winter. New season’s strawberry plants are in the shops about now. They're fairly easy to maintain in your garden, as long as they get full sun, and are in free draining soil.
Seeds you can sow
Broad Beans, bok choy, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, celery, florence fennel, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mesclun, parsley, peas, tatsoi, onions, radish, silverbeet, rocket, turnip. (As a general rule, allow eight weeks to seedling stage).
Seedlings you can plant
Beans, beetroot, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, florence fennel, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mesclun, parsley, tatsoi, onions, radish, silverbeet, spinach, rocket. (A good handful of blood and bone on planting will benefit your leafy seedlings).
May 'can do' Garden Tasks
Deciduous fruit trees and natives do best when planted over the next few months – it gets them nicely settled before the sun comes back. Add a layer of mulch around the base of your trees to keep the soil warmer over winter. This adds nutrients, and helps keep them weed free.
Winter provides an opportunity in the garden to make some changes and move things around while it’s less productive. Moving plants, making new beds, planting trees, setting up irrigation – all the jobs we want to do, but have no time for in the warmer months.
Now is a good time to experiment with seed saving in your garden, as dried seeds from herbs, lettuce and vegetables like beans are aplenty. Seed collecting saves money, and is the most economical way to reap new plants for your garden year after year. It’s also a great way to enjoy sharing your favourite seeds with friends. Choose a dry, windless day. Select a healthy, plant, whose seedpods appear as if they are about to split. Remove the entire seed head, and store in a paper bag or envelope. Label, and place bag in a dry place for the seeds to store.
Remove all spent foliage from your planting areas. Squashes and melons in particular produce heaps. Sort through foliage and discard any infected with powdery mildew or blight. These should be put out in your household rubbish as they will re-infect compost. Everything else can go into your compost that should be bulging with goodies ready to rot down over the winter for application next spring. Remember to balance all that greenery with layers of dried autumn leaves or shredded paper.
Produce usually ripe and ready in May includes beans, beetroot, bok choy, capsicum, carrots, kale, leeks, lettuce and salad greens, along with silverbeet. If you've planted early broccoli around February these will be ready for you in May. (I have at times tended an early broccoli planting which involved daily search and removal of catipillars for most of February!) I usually wait until the weather cools a bit these days with not as much time on my hands.