In our busy worlds that are filled with concrete, asphalt and screens, plants help us to reconnect with nature as we enjoy the delights of new growth, colour and everchanging freshness. There is plenty to be achieved in the garden during May as we enjoy milder days filled with warm, vibrant sunshine here in the tropical north.
Herb & Vegetable Gardens
Harvest your herbs regularly to encourage fresh, tasty new growth. Keep your favourite herbs in pots close to the kitchen door so they are convenient for you to use. To keep your herbs flourishing, use a liquid fertiliser such as Triple Boost Fruit & Veg every fortnight.
Rosemary can be planted in pots in a bright sunny position, and makes a lovely fragrant feature. Cherryl has some great tips for Growing Rosemary in the Tropics
Growing lettuce in the tropics can be a challenge, but now is the time to plant as the weather cools. Select early harvesting loose leaf varieties such as Oakleaf, Mignonette or Cos that can be picked as they grow. Water and feed regularly, and pick leaves while young to avoid bitter flavours. Sow a new crop every month to keep a fresh supply of delicious fresh lettuce leaves for the season.
Plant cool season greens such as Kale, Silverbeet and Spinach. These healthy greens will add nutrients to your home cooked meals, smoothies or can be frozen for later use. Tropical varieties such as Brazilian Spinach and Sweetheart Spinach will continue to thrive for a continuous variety of greens.
Ginger, Turmeric and Galangal are in flower and almost ready for harvest. While you can harvest small amounts throughout the year, the main harvest period occurs once the foliage dies off. Rhizomes can be lifted and prepared for storage, or left in the ground to be harvested over the dry season. Be sure to clear off dead foliage and avoid watering to reduce the chances of rotting. Rhizomes can be stored unpeeled, in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer, or grated and dried for longer storage. Don’t forget to save a few of the best rhizomes to plant your next crop.
May is a fabulous time of year to add to our indoor urban jungles with a huge selection of wonderful indoor plants now available. As well as the normal great selection of lush, healthy plants to grow inside, this is the time of year to find some great plants for inside homes for the cooler months that won’t need to tolerate the constant summer use of our air-conditioners. Aglaonema and Dieffenbachia are lush, bright and full of colour and texture, and make a hardy addition to your indoor jungle vibe.
Orchids are beginning to flower, with Phalaenopsis and Vanda Orchids available just in time for a beautiful Mother’s Day Gift.
Adding a nice thick layer of mulch to garden beds now will help retain moisture, suppress weeds and have gardens looking healthy by keeping a consistent supply of nutrients flowing to your plants.
Sugar Cane and Hay mulches are particularly good in vegetable, herb and flower beds. With high nutrient value and filled with organic matter, these mulches encourage earthworms to be working with us as they aerate and purify the soil.
Northern Fines mulch is ideal for mulching around fruit trees, and when combined with a regular fertilising schedule, will help your fruit trees thrive and produce large, tasty crops.
For a decorative look, try either Tea Tree Mulch or Pine Bark Chip. These long lasting mulches will lock in soil moisture and supress weeds, and will retain their neat, decorative look for up to a year.
The Colours of May
There are lots of flowering annuals to plant now to continue a fabulous colour display as we enjoy more time outdoors. Pansies, violas, dianthus, all love the cooler weather and reduce humidity. Plant garden beds, hanging baskets and pots now for a harvest of colour over the months ahead.
Enjoy your May in the garden and the celebrations of the good things of life.