May in the garden

Posted on: 10th May, 2016

Category: Home, Garden & Environment

Contributor: John Hosford

Jobs for the month

As May arrives hopefully with it comes summer. Do however keep a watchful eye for late frosts protecting tender, frost-susceptible plants.

If you still have potatoes remaining to be planted, get them planted right away. Although it’s late, you should still expect a good crop.

Bedding and patio plants may be planted out, as frosts disappear towards the end of May. In order to get a good summer display, now is the time to plant up hanging baskets, window boxes and patio containers.

Hoe weeds frequently, especially in warm, dry weather. Hoe early in the day, using a sharp Dutch hoe for best results and allow the sun and wind to wilt the weeds during the heat of the day.

Greenhouse vents and doors should be opened on warm days.

If you haven’t already, feed trees, shrubs and hedging using a good proprietary tree and shrub fertiliser. Feed Rhododendrons and other ericaceous (lime-hating) with a specific ericaceous fertiliser.

Lawns that are growing rapidly will now benefit from weekly mowing.


Dahlias are an essential component and feature of colour in the late summer/autumn garden. Flowering from late June until the first frosts of late October, they may be planted during May from tubers or as plants usually available either in packs or pots. Many people give the tubers a head start by starting off indoors in a greenhouse or conservatory where the tubers are potted into moist compost and allowed to develop. When all frost is gone they maybe gradually hardened off and moved to their summer quarters.

Dahlias come in a huge array of colours, heights and flower formations. So diverse is their variety that they are grouped into specific groups and classifications: Single-flowered; Anemone-Flowered; Collarette; Water-Lily; Decorative; Ball; Pompon; Cactus; Semi-Cactus; Miscellaneous.

The dwarf bedding varieties are ideal for bedding or for patio containers. The taller varieties should be well and securely staked using strong, stout, robust stakes. Sheep netting may be pulled down securely over four posts allowing the plant to grow through the mesh. Move the mesh upwards as the plants develop in height. Protect against slugs at all times. Good rich soil, which has been well manured, is best for successful Dahlia displays. Keep weeds down by placing a heavy mulch of straw and water well during dry spells.

Liquid feeding with a seaweed-based liquid tomato fertiliser is recommended during the growing and flowering season. Spacing will depend on the variety: The dwarf bedding varieties are planted at 30 cm. apart whereas some of the larger growing varieties need 90cm between the plants. Packaging and labels accompanying the plants or tubers will usually have instructions on recommended planting distances.

Hanging Baskets and Window Boxes

Hanging Baskets and Window Boxes for summer displays may be planted up during May. Discard old compost from last year. Make sure chains are intact, replacing if not secure. Window boxes should have drainage holes drilled if not already in place. Add a slow-release fertiliser and water retention gel in the fresh compost.

Sunny Aspects: Geraniums; Petunias; Lobelia; Nemesias; Petunias; Surfinias.

Shaded Sites: Fuchsias; Begonias — trailing, non-stop, semperflorens; Nasturtiums.

The containers will benefit from being placed in the shelter and protection of a greenhouse until established. Feed weekly with a liquid Tomato fertiliser.

Vegetable Garden

Tender vegetables maybe started under cover early this month for planting out at the end of May/early June when all risk of frost is over.

The following may be started in peat pots (7-10cm.)

• Courgettes

• Melons

• Cucumbers

• Pumpkins

• Sweet Corn.

• Runner Beans

• French Beans

• Climbing French Beans

• Squash

• Outdoor Tomatoes

Sow/plant Broccoli for late winter/early spring maturity. Sow/plant cabbage for late autumn/winter maturity. Sow lettuce and salad leaves at regular successions. Sow/plant beetroot. Swedes and turnips may be sown this month. Sow peas for a late summer/early autumn crop.

Herbaceous Border/ Perennials

Ensure good stakes are in place for the taller perennials and that they are well and securely staked, especially Delphiniums, Lupins, Phlox etc.

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11th October, 2017  ·  

Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at or text at 086/0476124.
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26th September, 2017  ·  

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