A list of simple May garden chores and tasks you can do in this busy gardening month for fruits and vegetables, flowers, and general yard and landscaping tasks. Includes a handy printable checklist!
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May is probably the busiest month in Pacific Northwest and other zone 6-8 similar gardens, both for vegetable and flower beds.
The garden chores in May consist of lots of planting, sowing, some weeding and mulching - and maybe even the start regular watering, depending on where you live.
In the vegetable garden almost everything can be safely planted this month and so there is a rush to get the warm weather crops and perennials planted between now and June.
PRO TIP: In our zone 8, Oregon Willamette valley garden, I usually wait to plant peppers and corn between the last week of May and the first week in June, because they prefer nights above 50 degrees as the low. May, especially the first weeks, can still have some chilly nights, so they do better planted later. Be aware of your own area's microclimates.
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 June and even into July.
Whatever. As long as it gets done, that's the important part!
Want my best vegetable gardening tips and techniques to keep it simple and manageable? (Yes, it CAN be done!)
We also can plant pots or areas of the garden with the tender annuals that provide beautiful seasonal color for our homes and yards.
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May Garden Chores
Vegetable & Fruit Garden
- Cover beds for warm weather vegetables with black plastic to kill weeds and warm the soil for a few 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: carrots, beets, and lettuce (TIP: sow a smaller amount of lettuce every month to provide a steady supply without a glut from one large planting).
- Plant 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.
- Direct 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, you see this every month in the spring - it's that important and could take awhile to actually complete).
- Plant tender plants like geraniums, fuchsias, begonias and impatiens.
- Plant dahlia and gladiolus tubers mid-month if you didn't last 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 lay compost, that's enough for most flowering plants, but a few might benefit from additional feeding like hydrangeas and rhododendrons).
- You can still plant new lawn this month in the north (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. We installed a great inexpensive DIY automatic watering system for our raised beds and I'm LOVING 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.
Make This Year's Garden A Success!