Fulham Horticultural Society

Founded 1924     





FHS Writes





 May (late Spring) to do List

1.  Continue pulling rhubarb regularly and water clumps during very dry weather to encourage new growth.

2. Pinch out the tips of broad bean stems to remove the soft growth which blackfly find so attractive.

3. Continue regular successional sowing of leafy salads, radish, beetroot etc.

4. Transplant young Brussel sprout plants raised from earlier sowings to their final permanent rows, leaving about 60cm between plants.

5. Harden off sweetcorn, courgette, peppers and tomatoes before planting out.  There have been frosts in late May so give them a chance by protecting young plants at night.

6.Plant sweetcorn in blocks 30cm apart each way rather than in rows.  Sweetcorn is pollinated by wind: by growing the plants in blocks there is more chance of pollination rather than in rows.  The male flowers  appear as tassels at the top of the plant and the pollen falls onto the female parts lower down the plants.

7. Spread straw along rows and under swelling strawberry fruits to keep them off the soil, reducing the risk of attack by slugs and getting covered
in soil.

8. Thin gooseberry fruits using the crop for cooking.  Remove every alternate fruit along stems, leaving more room for the remaining ones to

9. Transplant leek seedlings into their growing position. Apply a general organic fertiliser a few days beforehand.  If the seeds were sown in seed trays and the plants left to grow until 10-12cm high, they can be planted in individual holes.  Use a dibber to make a series of holes 15cm deep, and put one plant in each hole, about 30cm apart each way.  Do not firm: watering them in will automatically wash some soil down the hole to cover the roots.  If seeds were multiple-sown in modular trays for deep beds, the small clumps of five or six  plants can be planted in their clusters15-22cm apart each way.  This way you get more weight of crop within your growing area than if they were grown in conventional straight rows.


10. Hoeing bare ground will keep down weeds as they germinate.  Weeds are much easier to kill off at this stage, rather than when they are larger.  It also allows them less opportunity to set seeds.  Mulching with organic matter will help prevent the growth of further weeds.  Water soil before applying mulch if the ground is dry.


11. Do not be too hasty in cutting off the foliage from bulbs, which is needed to help them build up reserves for next spring.  Leave the foliage for at least six weeks after flowering.

12.  In a nursery bed, sow seeds of wallflowers and forget-me-nots and of biennial flowers like honesty and Canterbury bells.  These can be transplanted to their flowering position later in the year.  Towards the end of Spring sow nasturtiums outside.

Rhubarb Gin

1kg pink rhubarb  stalks

400g caster sugar (don't use golden - it muddies the colour)

800ml gin


Wash the rhubarb, trim the stalks and discard the base and any leaves. Cut the stalks into 3cm lengths. Put in a large jar with the sugar. Shake everything around, put the lid on and leave overnight. The sugar will draw the juice out of the rhubarb.

After 24 hrs, add the gin, seal and shake everything around. Leave for about 4 weeks before drinking. You can strain the liquor off through a muslin-lined sieve and transfer to a bottle, or just leave the rhubarb and booze in the jar and ladle it into drinks that way. Over time the rhubarb and the gin go a much paler colour - this doesn't look as dramatic.

Dates for the Diary


Talks from experts including Chris Baines, and masterclasses in garden management are part of the Wildlife Gardeners' Day at the WWT London Wetland Centre on 19 May.  wlgf.org


Rarely seen paintings by plantsman Cedric Morris are on display until 22 July at the Garden Museum.  Cedric Morris: Artist Plantsman is the first museum show in three decades and features 34 works, some from private collections.  gardenmuseum.org.uk

Moth facts

May is the beginning of moth-flight season for many UK species.  Night scented flowering plants such as jasmine, evening primrose, and honeysuckly attract moths into your garden, in turn encouraging bats at the start of their breeding season.