Things to do in the garden in May

Plant winter greens such as bok choy this month. Photo: Bhofack2 |

Plant winter greens such as bok choy this month. Photo: Bhofack2 |

The weather outside is frightful, but there’s plenty of delightful things to plant in the garden this month.

Words: Jane Bellerby

• Get the last of the autumn weeds out.
• As gaps appear in the garden sprinkle annual seeds such as poppies, calendula, cornflower, marigold, phacelia etc. They will establish over winter in temperate areas and be ready to offer their flowers in early to late spring. Gardeners in cold areas could sow the seeds into punnets or trays and have them in a warm place over winter, ready to plant out when spring arrives.
• It may be a bit late but you could try increasing your plant stock with shrub and rose cuttings. Worth a try in temperate to warm areas.
• Lime can go onto the garden, except around those lime-haters such as daphne, camellia, rhododendron and azalea.


Kale is very economical when grown from seed. Photo: Melpomenem |

• Put excess garden beds to ‘sleep’ for winter as crops are harvested. Slash down weeds, add manure, cover with black plastic. Half way through winter peel back the plastic and sprinkle in lime before recovering the ground.
• If black plastic and manure are not your thing plant cover crops and apply lime.
• No spare room to rest some of the garden after the bigger summer crops come out? At the very least replenish your soil with plenty of compost and/ or well-rotted manure or some kind of fertiliser before planting your next crops.
• Winter greens can still be planted. Consider miner’s lettuce, chervil, cos lettuce, sorrel, bok choi, spinach, kale and silver beet. They can be used to add that lovely zing of health giving green as a salad or generous garnish to soups, casseroles and bakes.
• Clean up around fruit trees. Ducks and pigs if they can be contained, can be useful garden workers for dealing to bugs, chomping and flattening down the grass and leaving fertility in their wake.

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This is one of those lazy, no-fuss dishes that pretty much cooks all by itself. Like so many other slow-cooked foods, the cabbage tastes even better the next day so it’s perfect to make when friends come round for supper and you want all the cooking to have been done by the time they arrive. It is a perfect accompaniment to pork, game, or sausages and mash.


1kg red cabbage, finely shredded
450g cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
8 small red onions (450g), peeled and quartered
Large pinch ground cinnamon
Large pinch ground cloves
6 tbsp light soft brown sugar
Salt and freshly milled ground pepper
6 tbsp cider vinegar
100ml pure apple juice
15g butter

Preheat the oven to 150°C. In a large ovenproof dish, layer the shredded cabbage with the apples, onions, spices, sugar and seasoning.
Continue with these layers until everything is in the pot.
Pour in the vinegar and apple juice then dot the butter over the top and cover tightly with a lid or foil.
Cook slowly in the oven for about 2 hours, stirring once or twice during the cooking time.
Taste the cabbage before serving – you may need some extra seasoning. Source:

NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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