Note: For 2015 I’m republishing our lists of monthly chores, ’cause you can never have too many reminders, right?
May is probably the busiest month in the garden, both for vegetable and flower beds and May garden chores consist of lots of planting, some weeding, and the start of the need for watering. In the vegetable garden almost everything can be safely planted this month (though where we live I usually wait to plant peppers and corn until the first week in June, because they prefer it warmer and May can still have some chilly nights) and so there is a rush to get everything planted.
In the flower beds, I always feel like May is one of my last chances to catch the weeds while they’re still small and the ground is moist enough that they pull easily. I always want to try and get all the beds newspapered and mulched because my gardening life will be so much easier if I do, but in reality, we’re often still mulching in July. Whatever. As long as it gets done, that’s the important part. We also can plant pots or areas of the garden with the tender annuals that provide so much color for our gardens.
Garden Chores by Month: May
Vegetable & Fruit Garden
- Cover beds to be used for warm-loving vegetables with black plastic to kill weeds and warm soil for the weeks leading up to planting (especially helpful for bean, corn, pepper and pumpkin plantings) – this is also needed when using the no-till method.
- Sow more rows of: lettuce (hint: sow smaller amount every month to provide a steady supply without a glut from a large planting), carrots and beets
- Plant a set of cabbage seedlings (including Chinese & Pac Joi) to mature after your March and April planted varieties mature for a steady harvest.
- Plant starts of brussels sprouts, kale and tomatoes. Wait until the end of the month to plant pepper plants.
- Plant seeds of warm weather vegetables: beans, melons, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins. Corn may be planted at the end of the month, or left to the beginning of June.
- Control insects by hand-picking, covering with row covers or using a less harmful insecticide like neem or Bt. (Tip: covering new starts with floating row covers also encourages faster growth when compared to uncovered seedlings)
- Place pheromone traps in apple trees (I’ve used these for a number of years and saw a dramatic decrease in codling moth destruction).
- Plant herb seedlings.
- Continue laying newspaper and mulching your garden beds as you clear them of weeds (yes, I include this every month – it’s that important and it takes me awhile to actually complete)
- Plant tender plants like geraniums, fuchsias, begonias and impatiens.
- Plant dahlia and gladiolus tubers mid-month.
- Deadhead early blooming flowers and shrubs like lilacs, azaleas, rhododendrons and spring blooming bulbs. Prune shrubs that need it after bloom.
- Fertilize roses and flowering shrubs that need it (if you annually compost, I’ve found that’s enough for most flowering plants, but a few might benefit from additional feeding like hydrangeas and rhododendrons).
- Can still plant new lawn this month (after this, you should wait for fall). Existing lawns: mow, mow, mow.
- Spot weed lawns and fertilize early if didn’t do it in April.
- Lightly sheer evergreens and hedges to shape.
- Test watering system, replacing hoses or sprinklers that need it.
- If you started seeds indoors for peppers, tomatoes, basil and other warm weather crops, harden-off gradually over a period of a week, allowing the plants more and more hours outside until able to stay out overnight.
Note: This list is not comprehensive by any means, but meant to provide a jumping-off point to organizing your garden chores. Feel free to print the list and add any of your own specific chores to the sections.