CraftyMarie Growing in May 2016

growing in may

May was a month of juggling plants inside and also growing in the polytunnel. Many were grown in containers and constantly moved in and out of the house before being planted out. The front windowsill was loaded with vegetable seedlings and the cat had fun chewing a few leaves. Beating any potential cold snaps and sudden frosts was not easy but beat them we did. Here's the photo highlights from this rather mad and hectic month.

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Growing Plants in the Window to Protect them from Frosts and Cold Snaps

Cat in windowsill with plants and vegetables growing

The cat enjoyed this month more than any other, with all the leaves she could sniff and have a sneaky chew of.

I'm not going to lie. May was very hard. It was a struggle to try and grow so many things on the windowsill and move them outside when the weather was good and back inside overnight and on bad weather days. I felt like I was juggling so many things.

Of most concern, were my runner beans. These grew so well and so quickly but I could not plant them out while there was any risk of frost because they are easily damaged by cold weather snaps. So these got very big inside and were a bit of a nightmare to care for.

windowsill growing with vegetables

This is the only south facing window where I can put plants. Luckily it is a big, bay window but it still was tricky growing so many seedlings in such a small space.

You can see how everything was crammed into a small space. Most days I was carrying larger seedlings outside during the day in order to get them used to outdoor temperatures. The runner beans were a nightmare to carry in and out without damaging them. I only had four of these plants as well.

I scraped by with some narrow trays which held lots of tiny pots. The Garland Super 7 unheated windowsill propagators worked really well and fitted neatly in the space. I like the high lids on these which you can keep on until the seedlings get to a reasonable size. 

Making Some Raised Beds for Growing Vegetables

vegetable beds painted black

We dug over some land towards the end of the garden and built 3 small, raised beds for growing vegetables in. These are in the sunniest part of the garden.

For the very first time, I'll be able to grow things in the garden instead of just in containers and pots. We made the raised beds ourselves from untreated wood and painted them with bitumen which should last for quite some time.

We had some old slabs which fit between the beds which was handy. It doesn't look pretty but it is very functional and I'm more interested in that side of it. Earlier in May we filled in the compost and covered each bed over with weed retaining membrane. This kept the beds in good condition until I started planting in each one.

raised beds runner beans onions

Starting to plant into the raised beds. I had beans and peas planned for the left side, squashes and marrows for the middle and onions for the right side.

By the 9th of May, the weather forecast was good and I'd had enough of carrying runner beans in and out so they got planted out. For the first number of weeks, I used some pockets of bubblewrap to shelter the growing tips of the runners overnight. I only had 4 plants, 1 for each cane of the wigwam and I was determined that they would all grow. Luckily they did.

Also on the 9th was when I planted the onion and shallot sets out. I was very late doing this. I got the sets for the knock down price of 50p per pack so decided to plant them and see how they did. While they were small, I draped netting loosely over the top to stop any birds from pulling them out.

Growing Mangetout in the Polytunnel was a Challenge 

mangetout growing in pots

The mangetout was another nightmare to deal with while they were growing in containers. The tendrils wanted to cling to anything and everything. I was detangling daily!

Growing mangetout in containers is fun! Perhaps it is fine if you have loads of space in order to spread them out. Otherwise those tendrils become a pain as they want to reach out and cling to anything and everything they can. I was on detangle duty most days. I had 28 plants, so they were a lot of work carrying in and out of the polytunnel in order to harden them off.

mangetout love climbing up netting

Next to the wigwam of runners, we made a simple bamboo cane frame which had netting clipped around all the sides. I used the gardening clips from poundland which worked great.

On the 24th May, I planted all 28 mangetout plants out around 3 sides of the netting. These just wanted to flop everywhere, so in some cases I used bamboo skewers to support them while they were in the process of getting attached to the netting. I had to be really careful with these plants because I snapped a few stems while I was planting them out.

Nearly All the Late Planted Onion Sets Grew

onion sets in raised bed

I mulched the onions quite heavily with bark chippings to cut down on any weeds growing. This was so successful that I had no weeding to do in this bed from May to August when they were finally pulled up.

Because I was super late planting these sets, I wasn't sure if they would grow. However, almost all the onions and shallots put on green growth very quickly with shoots appearing. I got lucky with a spell of some very warm weather after planting which helped them off to a good start. You'll see how well these did in August.

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