Curb your enthusiasm: May temperatures and tender plants don’t mix

Ne’er cast a clout ‘til May be out, as the saying goes. But when the sun is shining and the seedlings are thriving and hardened off, it’s hard to resist the urge to plant a few out, even though the gap between day and night-time temperatures is at its most pronounced.

For Irish gardeners, the fact that you’ve hardly seen the sun for six months makes it even harder to resist. Which is why I’m posting these pictures. Okay, so the cucumbers were accidentally left outside, but the poor runner beans….


So if, like me, you’ve been eyeing your thriving squash and courgette seedlings or wondering if the fledgling artichokes can handle it, sit tight a couple of weeks more. Frost-tender plants won’t appreciate the rollercoaster conditions, so you’ll end up with weaker plants in the long term.

Here are some things you can be cracking on with in the meantime:

  • Sow runner and French beans directly into the ground (put the poles for climbers in place first, then sow 2/3 beans around each cane).
  • Sow more peas for a steady supply – every 2 or 3 weeks now will keep you going all the way into July.
  • Get drilling: from lettuce to carrots, radishes, spring onions and beetroot, now the soil is warming, it’s a good time to sow veg in drills.
  • Earth up potatoes planted at end march-early April by covering the base of emerging shoots with a low mound of soil.

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