May To-Do List

Here we are in high gear with the “petal to the metal”, so to speak.  All of us are trying to cram a year’s worth of gardening into one month and it doesn’t seem to work very well, does it?  It’s important to remember that gardening is more of a marathon than a sprint and we will enjoy it a whole lot more if we spread out the work over the entire year.  Here are some things to consider this month.  


ROSES:  On top of the 2 cups of organic rose food you spread around last month, add a cup of alfalfa under each rose and cover it all with an inch of compost.  To control the inevitable mildew and black spot that is sure to come, apply a combination systemic product like Bonide's ‘Rose Rx’ Drench to solve all your disease and insects problems for 6 weeks.  By the end of this month you should be enjoying your first bouquet of roses.


LAWNS:  While April was the consummate month to resurrect your lawn, May can work pretty well too.  Come into the nursery and pick up my handy dandy year-long guide to a beautiful lawn.  


PRUNING:  This is the month to deadhead rhododendrons.  This is a nasty, sticky job that, despite its unpleasantness, is well worth the effort to complete.  Be careful not to knock off the new shoots while you are removing the spent flowers.  While you are at it, add some rhodie food and spread an inch of compost under these beauties and they will be set for the season.


PERENNIALS:  These are the plants that come back every year (most of the time).  Generally speaking, perennials bloom for 5 to 6 weeks, so if you want continuous color you need to plant early, mid and late bloomers.  You can find them all at the garden center right now, some in bloom, some out of bloom and some not ready to bloom for 3 to 4 months.


ANNUALS:  These are the plants that DO NOT come back every year, BUT they bloom all summer long.  They are best when positioned where they will have the most impact.  Hanging baskets, patio containers, window boxes and scattered throughout flower beds all work well.  Fertilize them generously for the best results.


VEGGIE GARDENS:  May is a transitional month for vegetable gardens.  It is still cool enough to plant root crops, leaf crops and peas, but it is also okay to plant tomatoes, peppers, beans and corn.  I would wait until a little later in the month to plant cucumbers, squash and basil.  Don’t forget the compost and fertilizer!


BULBS:  This is the last chance to plant summer blooming bulbs, such as dahlias, gladiolas and lilies.  Once they are gone from the shelves, you will have to buy them in gallon pots already growing, which is fine as long as you are prepared to pay a bit more. 


WEEDS:  Believe it or not, corn gluten works as a weed preventer, inhibiting germination of weed seeds and it is safe to use in the flower beds.  We sell it under the “Concern” label.  


WATERING:  It’s never too early to talk about watering.  I had to do quite a bit of it in April, despite the scattered rainfall.   Water deeply and infrequently rather than lightly and every day.  That’s all I am going to say for now, but there will be more to come in the near future.