To Do in the Garden – May

05 Magnolia blossoms 003May is a great time to finish clean-up projects so that you are ready for the truly warm weather next month.  Many perennials and grasses can be divided and transplanted now.  If you’ve been growing vegetable plants from seeds, you’ll want to take advantage of warm days to harden off your seedlings.  Some crops can be direct-sowed this month.  Put out containers filled with annuals now for some much-needed color; keep an eye on temperatures and cover your containers or bring them into the garage on cold nights.

 

 

Your Entire Property

  • If you haven’t already done so, rake up and dispose of debris such as sticks, leaves, dead grass, etc.
  • When working in your yard, let the ground dry out a day or two after rain to avoid compressing the soil in the lawn and garden beds.

 

Lawn

  • It’s not too late to apply lime (do a quick pH test to be sure you need it).
  • If your lawn needs it, you can apply a slow release organic fertilizer for late spring such as Espoma’s Organic Lawn Food – All Season Lawn Food.  (Can be applied from April to June.)
  • If your lawn needs it, apply a weed killer to keep perennial weeds such as dandelions and clover under control.

 

Trees and Shrubs

  • ADD INFO ON BOXWOOD PSYLLID.  LINK TO CLEMSON AND MISSOURI.

 

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

  • Put up your supports for peonies now before they grow too large!
  • Spray your hostas, tulips, and other plants that deer love with deer repellant.
  • Top dress beds with compost to improve soil structure and revitalize soil biology by establishing beneficial microbial populations.
  • Add compost as you plant new annuals and perennials.
  • Apply mulch right after you have weeded to deter new seeds from germinating.
  • Inspect rose bushes for sawfly larvae.  These insects look like small green caterpillars, and can be found primarily on the undersides of leaves.  Remove by hand or with a spray of water from your hose.  Neem oil, insecticidal soap, or Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew are organic insecticides that are effective against these pests while they are still small.  With all pesticides, whether organic or chemical, read instructions carefully and apply accordingly, taking special care to follow recommendations regarding timing of application to limit damage to your plants and to bees and other beneficial insects.

 

Annuals – Containers and Beds

  • We have mixed containers of summer annuals available for sale now.  You might need to cover these or bring them inside the garage for the night if the temperature is going to drop below 38 degrees.
  • After danger of frost (wait until Mother’s Day), plant tubers/corms of caladiums, cannas, dahlias, and gladiolus.  Set stakes when planting tall dahlias before backfilling.

 

Houseplants and Tropicals

  • If you have houseplants or tropicals that you like to leave outside during the summer months, May is a good time to start acclimatizing them to life outdoors.  Like your vegetable seedlings, bring them outside for a couple of hours at a time on mild days in May to get them used to life outdoors before you bring them out for the summer.

 

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Average last frost in the area is the end of April.  A chance of frost still exists until mid-May.  To be absolutely safe, don’t transplant seedlings of tender veggies into your garden until the beginning of June.
  • If you have seedlings that you started earlier in the spring, put them outside on sunny days to “harden off.”  Hardening off seedlings in mild outdoor weather strengthens their stems and conditions them gradually to direct sunlight.  Bring your seedlings outside on mild days four or five times for one or two hours so that they thrive once you plant them outside in late May or early June.
  • Direct seed now:  arugula, beets, carrots, kale, lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach.
  • Direct seed in late May:  beans, pumpkins, winter and summer squash.
  • Exhaustive lists of when to plant seeds or transplant seedlings are available online for additional crops.  Seed packages also include planting details.  Botanical Interests seed packets provide extensive information.
  •  It’s not too late to start seeds such as tomatoes, peppers, melons, squash, and basil indoors while we’re waiting for warmer temperatures.
  • Mulch between rows with four or five layers of newspaper covered with grass clippings, salt marsh hay, or straw to prevent it from blowing away.