May gardening tasks to tick off your list: Prepare for asparagus, plant Asian greens
The garden will be cooler but you can still be productive this month.
Words: Jane Wrigglesworth
Prepare a bed for asparagus. Clear the ground of perennial weeds and dig trenches 45cm wide by 15-20cm deep. When determining the length of your trench, bear in mind that asparagus crowns should be planted about 40cm apart.
Break up the ground at the bottom of the trench then return the soil, mixing it with sand for extra drainage, compost and phosphate fertiliser. Leave to settle before planting in August.
Nutrient-rich salad greens can be planted for winter harvesting. Plant corn salad (lamb’s lettuce), kale, lettuce, miner’s lettuce and mustard. If your garden gets boggy over winter, plant in containers.
Sow broad beans, peas, silver beet, spinach and turnips. Radishes and onions can be sown in warmer areas too.
Asian greens like bok choy grow well over the cooler months. Bok choy is a non-heading Chinese cabbage that is cold-hardy and fast-growing. Plants can be ready to eat in as little as 45-50 days.
Watch out for slugs and snails as they love to munch on the succulent leaves.
Allow coriander plants to go to seed and new plants will pop up in spring. You can also collect seeds for sowing in a new spot in spring, or dry them to use in cooking. Caraway, dill, fennel and lovage seeds can all be collected if they haven’t already popped.
Plant seedlings of broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese cabbages, Brussels sprouts and spring onions.
Rosemary, thyme and parsley are stalwarts of winter, but if planting new seedlings at this time of year, keep them in a sheltered spot or grow in pots.
For medicinal use, grow common thyme (Thymus vulgaris). This evergreen herb is excellent for coughs and colds, relieving congestion, sore throats and bronchial spasms.
To make a soothing tea, steep 1 tsp dried leaves (2-3 tsp fresh leaves) in 1 cup of freshly boiled water, covered. Sweeten with honey if desired. Sip through the day, or gargle for sore throats.
Grow orange thyme (Thymus vulgaris ‘fragrantissimus’) for its orange-scented leaves. It’s excellent in cooking and looks pretty in the garden with its pale pink to white flowers in summer.