As days get longer & warmer, soils warm up, seeds germinate easily and plants grow fastest, making May and June one of the busiest times in the garden. Be mindful weather in May can be unpredictable and late frosts are still possible, so protect any tender plants.
1. Be vigilant:
Get into the regular rhythm of spending time quietly observing your plants and checking over both sides of the leaves for unwanted outbreaks of aphids such as greenfly, and learn what their natural predators such as ladybird and hoverfly larvae look like. You can buy a handy guide to identifying Ladybird Larvae of the British Isles here.
There are several natural sprays you can use to help control them such as soft soap. Stinging nettle tea is also a well-known a natural insecticide as well as a fertiliser: it contains compounds that repel aphids, so is best used as a preventative, or as soon as you spot a few on the leaves.
For how to make nettle tea insec repellent and more on natural remedies click here.
This short video shows you how to make stinging nettle tea as a fertiliser the biodynamic way.
2. Sow companion plants:
A companion plant will help your crops, usually either by attracting pollinators with nectar-rich flowers or by acting as a decoy to pests. For example, nasturtiums are a magnet for blackfly which will provide a feast for ladybirds.
3. Keep sowing salad crops:
Sow saladings such as lettuce, rocket and mixed salad leaves on a leaf day as indicated in the Maria Thun biodynamic planting calendar.
Favourable sowing days for leaf crops are:
20th May all day
28th May all day through to the end of 30th May
15th June from
17th June until
24th June from
For some more unusual salad leaves, the Seed Cooperative offers a good biodynamic and organic range.
Instead of sowing a whole seed packet, sow just enough to fill a short row. This will ensure you don’t have a glut but you do have a succession of fresh salad leaves throughout the summer.
A-Z of other leaf crops
Apart from lettuces, leafy herbs, and small salad plants, the following are all classified as ‘leaf’ crops when using the planting calendar: –
Asparagus, broccoli; brussels sprouts; cabbages; cauliflower; celery; chicory; Chinese leafy vegetables eg Chinese cabbage & pak choi; endive; fennel; kale; leaf beet; leeks; radicchio; rhubarb,; spinach; Swiss chard.
The biodynamic planting calendar offers the following dates as favourable times for transplanting plants – plants have been found to recover and develop new roots more easily, and generally exhibit more resilience.
9th May until 21st May; and 5th June until 18th June
Harvest leaf crops in the morning for freshness and keeping quality and root crops in the afternoon. Flowers harvested on a flower day have been shown to stay fresh for longer and have a stronger scent.
6. Biodynamic Preparations:
Soil activator – Horn Manure
The soil activator preparation is applied to the soil just before direct sowing or planting out.
Sunshine for your plants – Horn Silica
Used during the growing season once the plants have become established. It helps to optimise the plant’s development – especially useful if it’s a dull cloudy summer.
You can buy both preparations from our online shop here
Learn more about the biodynamic preparations here
7. Build a solitary bee house:
Although honey bees live in colonies in hives, and bumble bees in nests, there are many other species of wild bees such as red mason and leafcutter bees that are solitary and will thank you for building them a simple home. They make their nests March to the end of August, so now is perfect.
Click here for full instructions on how to build a home for solitary bees