Saturday, May 5, 2018

Gardening Tips for May

A garden is an investment that keeps on growing. The average last frost date in my area, Zone 5, is May 15th, so this is a busy month for planting. You can look up your average last frost date and adjust the calendar according. The month of May is a time when the weather can either turn your garden into an Eden or a wasteland. Watch the weather and be prepared. If the weather is sunny, warm , and dry don't neglect your watering! Most flowers, veggies, and shrubs need about an inch of water each week to perform well, and newly planted seedling especially, will perish if their roots are allowed to dry out.

Sweet Peas


Kale and Cabbage

Vegetable Garden Chores:
  • Control weeds in raised beds of cool season crops planted last month.
  • Add a layer of mulch around plants to keep soil cool and conserve on water
  • Give salad greens, chard, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and onions a drink of fish emulsion

  • Reseed a second crops of beets, carrots, and radishes to extend the harvest
  • Plant one last run of salad greens choose varieties slow to bolt and suited to warm weather
  • Direct sow cucumbers, green beans, summer squash, and sweet corn
  • Plant potatoes if you did not do so last month
  • Plant transplants of tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers after Mother's Day unless you have a way to protect crops from cold

  • After Mother's Day direct seed watermelon, muskmelons, pumpkins, and winter squash
  • Either direct seed or use transplants for herbs

Planting Tips for Tomatoes
  • Choose transplants with good green color, 6-9 leaves, and no blossoms
  • Amend soil with compost and add a dry organic fertilizer to the planting hole
  • Snip off lower leaves, lie on side with top bending up, and bury stem. Roots will grow from the buried stem.
  • Even moisture is critical for tomatoes. Periods of drought don't allow the plant to take up nutrients and it results in problems like blossom end rot
  • Have large cages or use 6' stake for support
  • If you are using grafted tomatoes do not bury the graft union below the soil

Planting Tips for Squash, Melons, and Pumpkins
  • These crops need room to sprawl and warm soil to germinate.
  • I dig a large 1x1 foot hole and mix in lots of compost and an dry organic fertilizer
  • Leave a depression, plant 3 seeds per hole and water in the depression thin later to the healthiest plant.
  • Fertilize with fish emulsion or side dress with bone meal after true leaves appear
  • I you decide to use transplants be very careful with the roots. Melons especially do not like their roots disturbed.

Raspberry Blossoms

Strawberries flowering

  • Strawberries should be flowering. Keep beds evenly moist for a good crop 
  • Watch for iron chlorosis and treat with chelated iron.
  • June bearing raspberries should be forming buds
  • I like to fertilize with fish emulsion a a foliar spray of sea kelp when the buds appear

                 Tips for Growing Jostaberries

  • Prune spring blooming shrubs after they bloom- Forsythia, Weigla, and Spirea. Cut out 1/3 of the old stems to the ground Cut remaining branches to 1/3 of height.
  • Prune Lilacs after they bloom. Remove sucker growth and dead blossoms
  • Fertilize shrubs
  • Direct seed summer annual like Zinnias, Marigold, Sunflowers, Bachelor Buttons and Cosmos
  • Plant summer flowering bulbs like dahlias, gladiolas, and lilies
  • Set stakes next to tall perennial and annual flowers to protect against wind
  • Put annual flower and perennials out before the heat sets in

Growing Dahlias

  • Break off tulip and daffodil flowering head but continue to water until foliage dies back
  • Remove spent flowers unless you are saving seeds

                                                   How Not To Kill A Tree

                 Plant to attract Native Pollinators

Lawn Care
  • Repair lawn and reseed bare spots
  • Fertilize with dry organic fertilizer
  • Pull or spray weeds individually I like citrus oil based products Worry Free Grass Killer
  • Set mower for a higher setting so lawn grows in thick with deep roots that help reduce weeds
  • Link to organic lawn care tips Organic Lawn Care

Pest and Disease

  • Watch for aphids this month
  • Identify the problem correctly. Use a reliable book, ask the extension office or a trusted gardener.
  • If you feel you have to use an insecticide or fungicide choose a less toxic variety and follow the label
  • Avoid a broad spectrum insecticide that kill beneficial insects
  • Educate yourself about what is available out there that makes your yard and garden a safe place to enjoy.
  • EVERYTHING can be grown organically including lawns

May is the month to be inspired and dream. Plant a new vegetable, look for new landscape ideas, plant to attract bees, and hummingbirds, or create and outdoor living area. Look around and notice what you like in a garden and landscape and utilize a new idea this month. Enjoy the sunshine, warm the, and beauty of spring, visit your neighbor, and invite them over to enjoy the season. Be an inspiration to others!

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