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Your Garden in May

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house." ― Nathaniel Hawthorne

What a beautiful time of the year to spend in your garden. If you have trees you will have plenty of multi coloured leaves blowing around in the autumn breeze. This is a time when your garden becomes quiet as many plants ready themselves for their rest. As the plants start going to sleep it is not time for you to do the same. 

Depending on the severity of frost in your area, now would be a good time to start covering your frost sensitive plants with frost guard. Do not leave it as a spell of severe frost or sudden black frost can cause you to lose your most precious plants. Frost can be very unpredictable. The sap in plants start thickening when the temperatures start dropping which slows down all the operations in a plant. This happens so that the plant can conserve its energy and also to lower its freezing point. The plant cells become more permeable allowing the water to move more freely between the cells.  Frost causes the water in the plants to suddenly freeze which damages the cell walls as they expand. When the cells in the plant are damaged the plant cannot receive moisture from its roots which causes the plant to die from lack of moisture. At night the air and the soil surface cools down causing air condensation to form known as dew. When the temperature drops below freezing, the water vapour freezes and forms crystals (frost). Frost occurs usually on cloudless wind free nights in winter. Black frost is when the air is too dry to form crystals. Some plants are more sensitive than others to frosty conditions. Certain frost sensitive plants might need you to cover and protect their stems too as their stems can crack open from severe frost. Other plants again can handle a few days of frost but not for long continuous periods. What is always important when it comes to plant care during winter, is to make sure that you water your garden early in the morning and that you use mulch to protect the plants roots.
"A weed is but an unloved flower.” ― Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Looking around your garden you will notice weeds working really hard on producing seeds so that they can survive another season. If you leave these annoying weeds on your lawn or on your paving you will be stuck with twice the problem in spring. Plants are divided into two major classes, monocotyledon and dicotyledon. Grasses are grouped within the monocotyledon classification and Broadleaf Plants are classified as dicotyledon. For broadleaf weeds (dicotyledon) in your lawn you can use a selective herbicide, such as Versus from Protek, that will not kill grass (monocotyledon) but only broad leaf plants.  Remember that there are a lot of seed in the lawn and that you will have to spray again when they germinate. You need to break the life cycle of the weeds. If you have weeds, broadleaf or grasses growing on your paving, you can use a non-selective herbicide such as Glyphogan from Makhro Home & Garden that will kill all plants, monocotyledon and dicotyledon. Make sure that the grass that is growing on your paving is not connected to your lawn with underground rhizomes (roots). Again, there are many seeds buried between your paving and applying the non-selective herbicide over again will most probably be necessary until you break the cycle.

Your vegetable garden will need attention. All summer crops must be removed. It is getting too cold for them to keep on producing. Do not leave plants that have stopped producing fruit in the vegetable garden.  Remove them and put them on the compost heap. They will attract a variety of pests and diseases if left in the vegetable patch. 

Add plenty of compost and cow manure to the beds. Plant winter seedlings into the beds and keep the soil moist until they are established. Feed with an organic fertiliser which will strengthen the plants for the coming winter. Watch out for aphids. If the weather is good they will multiply rapidly. They are very fond of vegetables such as broad beans. Use an organic pesticide with the active ingredient Pyrethrin such as Pyrol from Biogrow to control aphids. Repeat after 7 days if necessary.

“Winter is coming.”― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
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