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What to do in May

Some people may complain about our weird weather at the moment, but here in Glasgow this month I think we have something to celebrate. It’s the blossom! It is a cruel fact that usually here the minute the blossom is out on the Cherry trees along come the old westerly winds, accompanied by some stonking downpours, resulting in gutters and pavements full of soggy, sorry blossom flowers. However this year, despite the cold, the blossom has remained intact and the city still looks wonderful. A rare and prolonged treat.

Sowing and Planting


Seedlings in the greenhouse can be moved into bigger pots to allow better growth once they are large enough to handle by the true leaves. When you run out of space, as you surely will, move these bigger pots to a cold frame or a sheltered area.


This is the month that you can start to plant your seedlings, bedding plants and more tender vegetables outside. Wait until mid-May, and be vigilant with the weather. Harden the plants off by putting them out for a couple of hours at first, building up to a day then and night as well.


Pruning and plant management


When fruits start to swell on gooseberies, strawberries and currants I tend to net them to protect them from pigeons. You can thin out gooseberries to allow for bigger fruits.


If you are growing potatoes remember to earth them up so just the tips of the foliage are visible encouraging tubers to form down the stems underneath.


Sow carrots direct outside, but watch out for carrot-fly when the seedlings appear. You can cover them with fleece as a precaution if you wish.


Pinch out the tops of broad beans to reduce attacks by black-fly.

Keep tying new growth on climbing plants to their supports. Take care with tender shoots, and don’t tie them hard against the support. Wrap your twine in a figure of eight around the support and stem to create a soft barrier.


Bend new upright growth on climbing roses to a horizontal position and tie in. Doing this encourages a plant to produce shoots and flowers along the length of that branch.


If your roses are liable to pests and diseases, for instance Black-spot, spray young growth now. This appears to keep it at bay, or lessen the problem, which is often hard to eradicate.


Give a liquid feed to spent spring bulbs to assist them in storing nutritious reserves for next year.


If you to prune a clematis montana – do this once the flowers have faded. They are incredibly robust and you can prune them hard back if needs be.


Prune your other spring-flowering shrubs once the flowers have faded. Prune by about one third, and remove a third of the older branches by cutting them down to the ground.

Maintenance and Planning


Keep sowing seed – especially if you want continuous supplies of salad vegetables. Sow a few seeds every two weeks.

Regularly run your hoe over borders and beds to take off the tops of ‘weedlings’ so they don’t get a chance to take hold.