Nature’s Guide to May
In this months seasonal guide, we’ll be looking at May and what we can expect to see in nature, on our plate and some little facts on the month of May.
May is one of the loveliest months in this part of the world. Spring is in full force, the fields turn a vivid lime green and the trees are dripping with blossom.
Summer is just around the corner and there’s a definite holiday feel in the air as we begin to think about picnics, BBQs and trips to the beach.
What does May mean?
The name May is derived from the Greek Goddess Maia, a goddess of growth. And seeing the transformation that happens this month I can understand how fitting it is that Maia is linked to this time.
May’s birthstone is the emerald, very in keeping with all the green growth that springs forth this month. And it’s birth flowers are hawthorn and lily of the valley.
What festivals and celebrations are happening in May?
May has plenty of festivals and celebrations including, May day on the 1st. May Day or Beltane is celebrated with bonfires, dancing, and decorating may poles with ribbons.
Other celebrations this month include Liberation Day on the 9th May, Shavuot and Whitsun on the 20th, Chelsea Flower Show on the 22nd while Mother’s Day for the US and many other countries falls on the 13th May,
What’s in Season in May?
Slowly but surely the garden is coming back to life. This month the best three are Asparagus, lettuce and young spinach.
Asparagus is always best as fresh as possible so avoid imported bundles for locally grown. Fresh asparagus is sweeter and tenderer than spears that have sat on the shelf. The longer the gap between picking and eating, the quicker the sugars convert to tasteless starch. Try and buy any seasonal produce at a good farmers market.
Both asparagus and young spinach is best served simply. Both will only need a short blanch in some boiling water and once drained teamed with butter and lemon. Perfection!
Carrots, broad beans, globe artichokes, cauliflower, chard, lambs lettuce, lettuce, onions, pak choi, peas, potatoes, radish, rocket, sea kale, sorrel, spinach, watercress, elderflower, morels, fat hen, chickweed, dandelion, chives, nettles are all good this month also.
What’s Happening in Nature in May?
The bluebells that began to sweep across our woodlands are now in full force in May. Make sure you enjoy them this month as they are at their best now! We seem to have bluebells everywhere on the farm and I just cannot get enough of their fairy-like bells and nostalgic mood.
Hawthorn blossom begins in May, not only is it very pretty but also serves as a potent medicinal herb. Hawthorn blossom is a wonder cardio tonic!
Other plants in full bloom are dandelions- we’re planning on harvesting some of the cheery yellow flowers to make dandelion wine later this week.
Most of our migratory birds are back now, with swifts being the last to join this month. The seabirds will be breeding and hatching now so make a trip to the beach to hear the cacophony of the seabird colonies.
The 1st Sunday of May is actually International Dawn Chorus Day! This month the dawn chorus reaches a peak due to the birds jostling for mates and nesting. You’ll be able to hear this incredible song from early morning (as early as 4am!) I have to admit I leave my bedroom window open so I can catch it every morning. It’s the best alarm clock and sounds far better!
As for insects, damselflies and dragonflies hatch this month and can be found near rivers. There are plenty of butterflies to see this month, especially the pretty common and holly blue, adonis, brimstone and small heath amongst others.
What to do in the Garden in May?
If you’ve been nurturing seedlings last month, it’s now time to get them outside and planted. We’ve been non-stop in the garden this month and been planting out modules of onions, cabbages and sowing carrots, parsnips, turnips and beetroots directly outdoors.
May is also the month to harden off any outdoor tomatoes and pumpkins, pot on seedlings, sow sweetcorn, prune spring-flowering shrubs, plant out dahlias, divide herbaceous perennials and hostas, take cuttings of tender perennials, tie in roses and sweetpeas, trim lavender shrubs, harvest any asparagus and rhubarb, plant our brassicas and leeks and surround strawberries with straw to protect fruit.