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May 1, 2023
May 2023 no dig sowings, weather issues, slugs

May 2023 no dig sowings are meeting damp weather. It’s a wet and dull spring here. March and April had the most rain since 2001, and the least sun since 2004. Any lack of light is bad for growth, and I do not like the veil of medium level cloud I am seeing a lot.

The positive from clouds is higher night temperatures, and I’m confident of seeing no more frost here. Thanks also  to winds from the south more than north. It’s therefore possible to plant out tomatoes and courgettes, but there is no rush to do so because it is not warm at all. On the other hand if your plants are well grown, you are better to get them outside, perhaps with fleece cover on top for a week or two.

Summer?

The highest day temperature this year is 17°C/63°F. Summer feels a long way off still.

Yet in the third photo below the small square of fleece in the middle has tomatoes underneath. We filmed this small garden in a short catch up on YouTube.

Three Strip Trial 28th April. Turnips nearest to camera, then overwintered spring onions, broad beans, potatoes just emerging, lettuce and spinach.
Three Strip Trial 28th April. Turnips nearest to camera, then overwintered spring onions, broad beans, potatoes just emerging, lettuce and spinach.
The garlic we planted at equinox looks promising, behind it is orach, and Lebanese Dandelion
The garlic we planted at equinox looks promising, behind it is orach, and Lebanese Dandelion
Small garden late April has grown well considering the weather and there is not too much slug damage. Overwintered cauliflower are now ready, Aalsmeer sown late August
Small garden late April has grown well considering the weather and there is not too much slug damage. Overwintered cauliflower are now ready, Aalsmeer sown late August

Sowings

As with every month until October, there are many sowings you can make in May. For a comprehensive list, please follow this link to my newsletter. You will also find a lot of other advice and information there.

May’s second week

I am feeling quite well sown for summer, with one notable exception which is beans: French, runner and borlotti beans. They are currently (1st May) still in their packets. My preferred date from many years of trial and error is any time during the second week of May.

I use the same timing for Brussels sprouts and autumn cabbages. Meaning the propagation space is fuller than at any time of year. Thanks also to many of the warmth loving plants being in pots which need more space than module trays. More watering too.

Sweetcorn, sunflower and leek seeds germinating on the conservatory windowsill. It's still warmer by night in the conservatory compared to my greenhouse, and this speeds germination, then I take them out to the greenhouse about a week after sowing
Sweetcorn, sunflower and leek seeds germinating on the conservatory windowsill. It’s still warmer by night in the conservatory compared to my greenhouse, and this speeds germination, then I take them out to the greenhouse about a week after sowing
Celeriac six weeks since sowing and almost ready to transplant from the module trays, I do not pot them on, and they are quick to transplant into holes made by the long handled dibber
Celeriac six weeks since sowing and almost ready to transplant from the module trays, I do not pot them on and they are quick to transplant into holes made by the long handled dibber
Courgettes at 15 days are almost ready to transplant, or can continue to grow a week more in the 9cm / 3.5in pots with Moorland Gold compost
Courgettes at 15 days are almost ready to transplant, or can continue to grow a week more in the 9cm / 3.5in pots with Moorland Gold compost

Slugs

They are liking the damp conditions. Learn ways to reduce them in my free web page, and we sell a Knowledge Pack on Pests. It contains information about dealing with all the pest problems you may encounter. Not to say that you will suffer these problems, but it’s good to know about them their likelihood ahead of time.

Often one can you can prevent damage happening, for example by covering susceptible plantings at appropriate times. In the case of slugs, I advise you to minimise habitat as much as possible. I had this great feedback on Intagram from Susan Bell:
“I’ve seen a significant reduction in slugs after following your advice and removing slug homes! I’ve removed wooden bed sides where possible. Moved all rocks and pots to a distant corner and lifted make shift steps with hollow space underneath. So far so good. 👍 I live in the wet north east too.”

Slugs and fleece

I hear that some of you find more slugs than normal under fleece. I think this is from having generally more slugs, not especially a result of the cover. I do not see it happening here. The one place I’ve had poor germination of carrots is, I’m pretty sure, because the seed was not good quality. In the same bed, seed from a different packet is growing strong carrots. See my video about when to remove covers, where also I show damage from woodlice.

The tiny leaves of new carrots are especially attractive to slugs. So small that one mollusc can demolish a lot in one night. Make your carrot sowings in the middle of a plot, not near the edge where there might be more slugs hiding. Photos below are 1st May and you can see the non-appearance of carrots one end. It is more to do with seed quality I’m pretty sure because there’s not many other differences in that bed.

Knowledge you act on is power. In this case is the power to grow food.

I have just removed covers from these lettuce and spinach, and almost all the plants are still there. Main damage is from woodlice eating the lowest leaves, see my recent video
I have just removed covers from these lettuce and spinach, and almost all the plants are still there. Main damage is from woodlice eating the lowest leaves, see my recent video
Carrot germination is poor of new Moles newly purchased seed, F1 Napoli, while the year old radish seeds are all growing
Carrot germination is poor of new Moles newly purchased seed, F1 Napoli, while the year old radish seeds are all growing
Carrot germination is strong of older Bingenheimer seed Nantes Milan, also plenty of radish
Carrot germination is strong of older Bingenheimer seed Nantes Milan, also plenty of radish

Views 1st May

View from house 1st May
View from house 1st May
1st May trial beds, dig on left and no dig right, both beds have same plants and compost amounts
1st May trial beds, dig on left and no dig right, both beds have same plants and compost amounts
View to right of house
View to right of house
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