The month of May represents the highest expression of Nature. It is the awakening of life.
Light triumphs over the shadows and Nature is an explosion of colours, scents and flavours that herald the summer season. In this month the ancient Romans celebrated the popular Floralia, festivities dedicated to the goddess of nature, Flora. Etymologically, May derives from the Latin “majus”, referring to the goddess Maia, mother of Mercury, and goddess of earth and abundance.
In the garden and in the vegetable garden the hard work of the past months starts to show its results with the sight and the scent of the flowers that in this period are shown off by numerous plants. All these flowers inevitably attract many insects, some bad but others, the majority, good and important for our plants.
If you are one of those plant lovers who jump at the first insect they see and rush to arm themselves with chemical products, it is essential to change that philosophy! As you know, I do not like to resort to such drastic solutions, if not in extreme cases. If in the previous months we have performed a methodical and careful cleaning of the soil and plants, the proliferation of insects should now be under control.
If, like me, you take care of plants considering them as part of a whole, you will not have difficulty tolerating a certain coexistence with insects. And if you discover an eaten leaf, it’s ok: a small loss can be accepted if, on the other hand, you will see birds return, you will hear the croaking of toads and you will live in an environment with cleaner and healthier air, water and earth.
The queens of this month’s garden are definitely roses. Check their health often as it is during this period that diseases such as powdery mildew can be easily fought by spraying Poltiglia, a fungicide, on the affected parts, avoiding the buds. Cut the stems of spent roses by a few centimeters to encourage the growth of new buds. Fertilise regularly, every ten days, and irrigate generously.
An excellent method for avoiding dry soil under roses in planters, is to plant aromatic herbs and flowers. In the open ground, perhaps bordering lawn areas, the flower bed can be defined by a border of expanded clay over a strip of geotextile.
Speaking of lawns, for those who have not yet done so, carry out re-sowing, aeration, and fertilisation; intensify irrigation preferably in the evening so that the plants can absorb the necessary water overnight.
Trim herbaceous perennials to compact tufts, prune shrubs that have finished flowering and hedges such as Pittosporum, Ligustrum and conifers. Continue planting summer and autumn flowering bulbs like Dahlia, Canna indica, Liliums.
A real godsend for those who want to decorate their flower beds with little effort and great results is the Portulaca. May is the right month to sow it! The seeds are very small and must be mixed with a little soil for succulents, very rich in sand. The right proportion is 1 teaspoon of seeds for 4/5 teaspoons of soil. Before and after sowing, and until the seeds have sprouted, keep the soil moist by spraying moderately in the evening.
In the vegetable garden, before the temperatures rise in the next few weeks, we can still transplant seedlings of watermelons, cucumbers, chicory, lettuce, melons, tomatoes, radishes.
To protect our young seedlings from the assault of snails, we can prepare simple traps and… get them drunk!
Cut a few plastic bottles in half and bury the lower half so that the edge is at the same level as the ground. Then pour some… beer, yes, which snails love!! Just remember to keep the traps clean and replace the beer periodically.
Get to work now, and enjoy those priceless moments when tired, after having worked in our garden, we sit at the foot of a tree and watch the last rays of the sun light up our work…