May Gardening Newsletter

Dear Fellow Gardeners

May is definitely the busiest month in your vegetable garden and hopefully you have managed to do all the other jobs such as bed preparation in the previous months. The soil has warmed up sufficiently to sow and plant nearly all vegetables.  So make sure you take time off in May so that you can spend days in the garden!  Finish preparing the beds and keep the hoe and rake moving over them. Watch out for late frosts and have some horticultural fleece handy to cover your potatoes if needed. You should thin out your radish and turnip seedlings.

Please also read on about our new appeal for soil protection below the monthly gardening information.



Outdoor sowing:

In the first half of May you can sow early beetroot, early carrots, parsnips, perpetual spinach, annual spinach, chard, radish, turnip, peas and runner beans directly into the ground.

Towards the end of the month you can sow maincrop carrots and beetroot and any crops you didn’t manage to sow at the beginning of the month.

Indoor sowing:

In May you can still sow the following vegetables into modular trays: winter cabbages, Brussels sprouts, calabrese, kale, kohlrabi, swede, turnip, lettuce, scallions, spinach and chard.

If you haven’t sown courgettes, pumpkins, squash, runner beans and sweetcorn yet you can still do so at the first half of the month.

Towards the end of the month you can sow Florence fennel and Chinese cabbage.


You can plant out the crops you sowed in the previous month: the first batch of leeks, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, calabrese, kohlrabi, rocket, swede, turnip, lettuce, perpetual spinach, chard, annual spinach and scallions.


Towards the end of the month you may be able to harvest some oriental salads, radish, turnips and annual spinach.

Pest watch

Don’t forget to keep a check on your plants especially the seedlings outside. This is the time when they are most vulnerable to a slug attack. You also need to be wary of leatherjackets, the larva of the daddy-longlegs. They can be a terror during this month especially on newly planted lettuce. If a small lettuce suddenly dies, itwas probably eaten by a leatherjacket. They actually just bite through the stem of the young plants. If you don’t find the culprit in the soil it will move on to the next plant.

If you had carrot root fly in previous years it is nearly essential that you cover the early sown carrots with a bionet.

May is the most exciting month in your tunnel or greenhouse. This is the time to plant out your summer crops – your tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, cucumbers and basil.

Take good care of them and give them a fabulous soil and they will reward you with a bounty of delicious sun-ripened fruit. Once the busy spell of planting is over you can start to relax again.

More information on


“People 4 Soil” Campaign

I am honoured to be part of this wonderful campaign for the protection of our soils.  Following the International Year of Soils 2015 and great awareness raising about soil degradation, this campaign is fighting for a legal protection of soils.

We have inherited our soils from previous generations of farmers and we have an obligation to leave this precious soil behind so that future generations can also make a livelihood.  Instead we have destroyed and degraded vast tracts of our living soils to such an extent which is close to being beyond repair.  At present 25% of the arable land area become degraded through human activities (mainly intensive farming) and billions of tons of topsoil are being lost every year.

Our biggest challenge as a human species in the next decade is to find ways to counteract this global decline of soil fertility.

We need to learn to understand what are the causes and possible solutions for a more sustainable management of soils.

This People 4 Soil Initiative is a most important step.  Groups of people and organisations throughout Europe are now campaigning that soil protection should be enshrined in EU law.

In Ireland it is the Environmental Pillar which is comprised of 28 national independent environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), who work together to represent the views of the Irish environmental sector.



The campaign will be launched in September this year and we require over 8,000 signatures.  If anyone reading this newsletter has a blog, mailing list of like-minded people etc, please let us know.

I will forward the information to Michael Ewing who is the national co-ordinator of the Environmental Pillar.


“People 4 Soil”


We are a free network of organisations

“People 4 Soil” is a free and open network of European NGOs, research institutes, farmers associations and environmental groups. We are very worried about the increasing degradation of soils both in the EU and at global level: erosion, sealing, loss of organic matter, compaction, salinisation, landslides and contamination have negative impacts on human health, food security, natural ecosystems, biodiversity and climate, as well as on our economy.

We want Europe to recognize soil as a common good

We want to put pressure on European institutions to adopt specific legislation on soil protection, fixing principles and rules to be complied by the Member States. We want Europe to recognize soil as a common good essential for our lives and to assume its sustainable management as a primary commitment.

So far, soil has no rights

At the moment, soil is not subject to a coherent set of rules in the Union: the proposal for a Soil Framework Directive has been withdrawn in May 2014 after it ran into a blocking minority for eight years. Existing EU policies in other areas are not sufficient to ensure an adequate level of protection for all soils in Europe.

Through a petition promoted by EU citizens

European citizens have the right to recommend EU legislation via the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). By joining “People 4 Soil”, you’ll become promoters of an online petition targeted at introducing a specific legislation on soil in Europe. When the initiative will be launched, we will ask you to engage in spreading the petition.

In 2015, International Year of Soils

United Nations declared 2015 the International Year of Soils: this is a real opportunity to create a network of NGOs, associations and other organisations supporting the cause of soil protection. The petition will be launched on 2016, and will last for 12 months.

People 4 Soil is a network of European organisations that claims a right to soil.
Read the call and find out how you can help us.





6th – 8th May 2016

Garden Show Ireland, Antrim Castle Gardens,

We will be at this wonderful event on Friday and Saturday.  Monty Don is officially


21st May 2016

On Saturday 21st May at 2.00pm I’ll give a talk/workshop on Unusual Vegetables at the Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin, Dublin.  The event is free but booking is essential.  More information can be found on:


27th May 2016

The Permaculture / Sustainable Horticulture course in Kinsale College, in collaboration with Transition Town Kinsale, is excited to be hosting ‘Food for the Future’, a one-day conference on Friday the 27th May in celebration and development of sustainable and healthy local food systems.

For more information and booking have a look at:


Happy Gardening,


Klaus Laitenberger