The Month of... May

The Month of… May

by Michelle Brett

This month is a stampede of blossom and leaves, buds and blooms with celebrations and festivals beginning up and down the land at the awakening of the summer.
May is when the Dawn Chorus reaches its height, with our feathered friends defending their territories and singing their little hearts out to attract a mate, beginning about an hour before sunrise.
The bluebells should now be in full flower with carpets of them spreading across woodland floors. With the ash being the last of the trees to break bud, most of the trees should now be in leaf.
May is possibly connected with the Greek goddess Maia. She was the daughter of Atlas and the mother of Hermes. A nurturer and an earth goddess, it explains the connection with spring.

In the Kitchen:

Salads should be becoming more prominent in our gardens and fridges this month, with carrots, lettuce, peas and spinach to name a few, being in season.
British strawberries will begin to start reaching your greengrocer, and of course let’s not forget the brief asparagus season being upon us. It’ll deteriorate relatively quickly after picking but needs little doing with it. Enjoy it with a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper and some Parmesan shavings. Best if bought fresh, maybe from a local seller such as South Brockwells Farm Shop in Little Horsted. See their advert in this month’s issue, and maybe grab yourself some free asparagus!
Wood pigeon and lamb are in season, with fish and seafood such as plaice, sea trout and crab. Were you aware that the humble plaice reaches maturity at five to seven years and can live for up to thirty?!

In the Garden:

Longer and warmer days, risk of frost passing as each night goes by, it’s time to get the summer bedding plants into your pots, along with your seedlings planted out this month.
But…Slugs. Time to start their prevention! Concentrate any treatment you’re using around the base of hedges and evergreen shrubs – this dense cover is where they often live, and they can wipe out your nurtured seedlings on one night. There’s various treatments and ways of stopping them – some more gruesome than others, but hard work now will pay off later as they prefer the younger, more immature plants.

Facts & Figures:

Believe it or not, but we’re already in the penultimate month where the day length will increase! By the end of the month we’ll have a super 16hrs and 17 minutes of daylight (London), and quite a big increase in the average sea temperature to 11.4° in Brighton.
This month’s full moon is on the 8th and the on the 27th, weather permitting, you may be able to spot Jupiter as they’ll pass close from 10.30pm, 17° above the south-eastern horizon.
May’s birthstone is the Emerald: the rarest of the gemstones and considered to be a symbol of rebirth and love with the birth flower being the Lilly of the Valley, symbolising love and appreciation.
The zodiac signs for this month are Taurus and Gemini, and celeb May birthdays include Bono (10th), Adele (5th), Sir Ian McKellen (25th), Brooke Shields (31st) and George Clooney (6th) to name a few!

Enjoy your two Bank Holidays this month!