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Your Garden – Jobs for May

Hopefully, spring has well and truly arrived and the “beasts from the East” are now distant memories. April had a cold start that has further shortened our growing season but, the days are longer, hopefully warmer and the soil will have warmed, so there is plenty to do in the garden.  The risk of frost should pass by the end of May. Now is the time to harden off any frost sensitive plants and start sowing outdoors. Keep on top of weeds with regular hoeing and not allowing them to become established.

The Vegetable Patch in May

Sow vegetable seed outdoors
Warmer weather will have raised the soil temperature so seed will germinate quickly. Sow after the risk of frosts. Sow carrots, lettuce, peas, beetroot, French beans, runner beans, radish, spinach, turnips.

Sow frost sensitive crops under glass
Courgettes, pumpkin, cucumber and sweetcorn require very warm temperatures to germinate. Do not plant ot too early, as they are fast growing and cannot be planted out until all frosts have gone. Better still grow them on in an unheated greenhouse if you can.

Plant greenhouse crops
Plant tomatoes, peppers, chillies, and capsicum into their final positions in the greenhouse borders, or into pots or grow bags.
Harden off plants outdoors
Plants grown indoors or in the greenhouse will benefit from being hardened off outside for a week or so before planting. Place in a warm sunny sheltered spot during the day, bringing back inside late afternoon. Gradually extend their presence outside and acclimatise to cooler conditions.

Earth up potatoes
Once shoots have reached 23cm (9in) tall, earth up to prevent greening of potatoes.

Put up supports for beans and peas
Build supports for runner and climbing French beans. These can be wigwams or double rows of bamboo canes tied together at the top. Provide support for peas.

Plant herbs in containers
Herbs grow very well in containers. Put them on your patio where they are easy to get to from your kitchen. Sow basil and coriander once all frosts have passed. Thyme, rosemary, parsley, chive, mint, sage and oregano are all hardy.

Remove blackfly from broad beans
Look out for blackfly around the tops of the broad beans. Pinch out the tops if this is a problem.

Winter Veg

Sow/plant out swede, sprouts, curly kale, winter cabbage and leeks plus any other favourites. Protect young plants from marauding pigeons.

The Fruit Garden in May

Plant strawberries in hanging baskets
Strawberries grow very well in hanging baskets. They look pretty and the fruit is away from slugs and snails. Learn more about
growing strawberries in hanging baskets.

Protect fruit blossom from late frosts
Fruit blossom (such as strawberries, blackcurrants, and cherries) can be damaged by frosts so protect by covering with horticultural fleece.

Protect strawberries on the ground
Place clean straw beneath strawberry plants. This keeps the fruit clean and dry, preventing soil splash when it rains, and also helps to discourage slugs. Cover with fleece or netting to protect against birds.

Open greenhouse doors on warm days
Greenhouses can get very hot when the sun is shining. Open the doors to allow cooler air and pollinating insects inside.


Mow and feed
Lawns will be growing strongly so continue to mow according to your routine and preferred blade height. Usually a cut every two weeks is sufficient just now. From end of May, treated (fed) lawns need cutting every seven days to keep them looking good. Lawns fed in April will require another application mid to late June. May is a good month to re-lay or lay new lawns either from seed or turf. Continue with lawn weed eradication.


Plant out summer bedding into borders, pots and hanging baskets. Protect sensitive plants until risk of frost has passed. Harden off plants before planting out. Apply a dressing of general purpose fertiliser to all areas that are to be planted at a rate of 70 grams per square metre. Liquid feeds for pots and baskets are also very effective.


Slugs and snails will be in abundance on damp warm evenings, take precautions to avoid damage to ornamentals and summer bedding. Snails will strip a bed of Marigolds in an evening if left unchecked. Better dead snails than dead plants.


Greenhouse grown tomatoes are subject to Whitefly attacks late August. There is no pesticide available to control this pest. Planting some Marigolds in the greenhouse orders or pots will help to deter them.

Other Gardening Jobs in May

Tidy your shed
This is a good time to tidy up and organise your shed than on a warm spring day, ready for the busy season ahead. Clean and sharpen tools to make tasks easier in the months ahead.

Michael Gourlay Chairman

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