Sowing, Planting and Harvesting in May

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Two Bank Holidays in May for many of us means that there is extra free time available to potter in the garden. It’s also a chance to enjoy some of the warmer days (fingers crossed) by sitting outside and admiring your well-tended borders!

If time is limited in the garden this month, here are our Top Ten tips:

1) Prune trees and shrubs.
2) Brighten borders with some of our lovely shrubs, climbers, herbaceous perennials and roses that are in stock now.
3) Start planting out your summer bedding plants (weather permitting).
4) Clean up your walls, paving and patios ready for the BBQ season ahead!
5) Control slugs and snails to protect your bedding.
6) Plant out greenhouse tomatoes for a bumper crop!
7) Mow your grass regularly.
8) Lay new turf.
9) Repot greenhouse plants if necessary and control greenhouse pests.
10) Harden off plants raised from seed and cuttings.

If you have a little more time to spare…

Lift and divide bulbs that have finished flowering, such as bluebells, fritillary, crocus and tulips, and lift daffodil clumps that threaten to become too crowded next year.

Harden off cutting of dahlias and chrysanthemums for planting out at the end of the month, along with tender bedding plants.

It’s time to get planting your summer bedding plants. I normally wait until the second bank holiday this month to plant mine up (weather permitting)! Have some fleece on stand-by ready in case of any late frosts to protect summer bedding and other tender plants that you’ve planted out.

Hanging baskets can be planted up (if not done already) and hung out towards the end of the month, weather permitting.

Keep baskets and pots well-watered from now on as they will soon dry out.

May is the ideal month to prune trees and shrubs such as chaenomeles, choisya and early flowering clematis varieties, as a little careful pruning now will encourage improved shape and flowering next season.

If you’re not looking for bedding, why not fill and brighten your borders with the wealth of shrubs and climbers we have to choose from, including: Ceanothus, choisya, rhododendrons, clematis, wisteria and not to mention plenty of herbaceous perennials like aquilegia, dicentra, euphorbia, geraniums and peonies. If it’s roses you are after, we have plenty in stock! Remember, roses need plenty of feeding with a granular rose fertiliser such as Bayer Garden Toprose or David Austin Rose Food.

Sowing and planting edible crops:

If the night-time temperatures look set to dip, cover your peaches and apricots with horticultural fleece.

Continue successional sowings of radishes, carrots, beetroot, annual herbs and salad. Direct sow basil – the best way to grow it.

Earth up early crop potatoes when shoots are 9in high to prevent green potatoes.

Now’s the time to plant out greenhouse tomatoes for a bumper crop. Don’t forget to water regularly and support the plant. You can also plant out or direct sow half-hardy annuals, eg French beans, squash and pumpkins, when you are sure the frosts are over.

Once the frosts art over, plant out half-hardy annuals, and all of your dahlias and chrysanthemums. Start successional planting of gladioli and sow biennials, eg wallflowers, sweet willams and foxgloves.

Brassicas: kale, cauliflower, late purple sprouting broccoli, spring cabbage.
Roots: radishes, first carrots, first potatoes (raised inside).
Salad: salad leaves, first cos lettuce, pea tips.
Edible flowers: borage, marigolds
Stems: rhubarb.
Leafy greens: chard, spinach.
Herbs: first dill, oregano, inside basil, first lovage, fennel, thyme, parsley, chervil, coriander, mint and tarragon

In flower:
Tulips, alliums, autumn-sown hardy annuals such as marigolds, cornflowers, first sweet peas. You may also now be enjoying Euphorbias, Lysimachia atropurpurea ‘Beaujolais’, Viburnum opulus, early peonies and aquilegia.

Lysimachia atropurpurea 'Beaujolais'

Seasonal produce
Don’t forget the Keep it Local Food & Produce Market runs at Coolings on every fourth Saturday of the month from 9am – 1pm. You will find stalls selling fresh, seasonal, locally sourced or made foods. Tip top fresh meat, fish, bread and cakes, fruit and vegetables grown for flavour rather than volume, juicy jams and chutneys and varieties of locally brewed beers. We look forward to their next visit on 25th May 2019.

To celebrate our new summer menu in Arthurs, we’re sharing a healthy crisp salad recipe with you this May…

Roasted Sprouting Broccoli and Cauliflower salad with Toasted Pine Nuts and Kimchi Oil Dressing
Serves 2

100g Purple Sprouting Broccoli
75g Cauliflower Florets
50g Large Leaf Spinach
100g Mixed Leaf Salad (something vibrant/colourful and crispy! I would suggest Frizze/Lollo Rosso)
20g Pine Nuts
8g Kimchi Spice Mix (found in most supermarkets)
40ml good quality Olive Oil
40ml Pomace Oil
6 Borage Flowers
Cracked Black Pepper and Sea Salt Flakes for seasoning
1 tbsp of Oregano
1/2 tsp of Lemon Juice

Trim and wash purple sprouting broccoli and place in a bowl, trim and wash cauliflower, slice thinly to create cauliflower crisps and place in the bowl with broccoli. Drizzle over the pomace oil and season generously with the salt and pepper.

Place in a metal oven tray and roast in the oven until the cauliflower just starts to achieve a little golden colour to the edges, once it has reached this stage remove from the oven and mix in your washed large leaf spinach, leave aside to cool thoroughly. Toast your pine nuts on a metal oven tray until they go golden brown, remove from oven and cool thoroughly.

Take your kimchi spice mix, good quality olive oil, lemon juice and a little salt and pepper and place in a food processor/or use a stick blender to completely combine the ingredients.

To assemble, very gently toss together your crisp salad with your cooled broccoli and cauliflower mix, try not to get too much of the cooking oil into the salad. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the top and drizzle a healthy serving of your kimchi spice oil (would suggest trying it before adding to your salad so you can gauge how much you would like on it!) place your carefully washed borage flowers on top of your salad and serve.

Recipe supplied by Tom Williams, Arthurs Head Chef.


It’s a great time for a clean-up! Walls, paving and patios that have taken a beating over the winter would benefit from a good scrub ready for all that summer dining! Have you seen the NEW PlastiKote Garden range of spray paint in our shop? It’s a multi-surface spray paint that works on wood, plastic, metal, stone and wicker, it is ideal for outdoor furniture, planters and garden ornaments. If you are planning on sprucing up your garden this summer then this is the stuff you need! Available in 10 vibrant colours and is durable, long lasting and drying. Plus, with its water-based formulation, 90% less solvents and incorporating PlastiKote’s Eco Technology, it is kinder to the home - and to the environment (£7.99 a can).

Plant up new aquatic baskets with water lillies and oxygenating plants to aid your ponds ecosystem. Make sure your pond pumps and filters are running constantly.

Control slugs and snails to protect your bedding. We have a number of products in store to help control unwanted visitors in your garden.

Regular mowing usually becomes a priority this month. Add clippings to the compost heap sparingly, and mix with other organic matter. Prevent grass from creeping into the flower borders by edging the lawn with a half-moon edging iron.

Lay new turf and keep well-watered if a dry spell hits. We sell turf by the roll each roll is 1m² and is £4.99. At this time of year we have deliveries every week so if you need a large number of rolls you may want to give us a call prior to your visit so we can add the amount to our delivery to ensure we have enough in stock.

Continue to reseed bare patches and feed established lawns.

Greenhouse plants will be growing at a good rate now so make sure you repot them into the next size pot if needed. Good greenhouse ventilation and regular watering is vital at this time of year to keep plants strong and healthy. The greenhouse is a great place to grow plants but it’s also a great place for pests to harbour too. So, watch out for pests and deal with any outbreaks as they occur.

French and Runner Beans should also be growing well now too. These can be sown direct into the soil at the end of the month (weather permitting).

Remember, to harden off plants raised from seed and cuttings by leaving them outside for gradually increasing periods of time. Start with the warmest part of the day, and build up to overnight. Doing this for a couple of weeks before they are planted out will help them establish in their new position.


  • Some fantastic offers can be found around site for our Coolings Family members this month including:

Any variety of Geum (2 and 3 litre pots) and Berberis ‘Orange Sunshine’ are all – Buy 2, SAVE £5.

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