May Garden Tasks 2016

Flowering Dogwood 'Venus'

We’ve had some beautiful weather… rain then sunshine and then repeat! This pattern creates lots of growth in the garden… blooms and weeds!

Have fun getting your garden spaces ready for outdoor entertainment: spend just a half hour each day for a few days and you’ll be proud to host a birthday party or a Mother’s Day event. Remove weeds in pathways and along edges, dead-head past-due rose blooms, clean up the garden furniture and sweep the patio. If ambitious, spread some fresh mulch in the open spaces around plants and the bare patches you just weeded.

This is also an important time to get your fruit trees fertilized and pruned, and summer veggies planted in the garden… you will reap the benefits for months to come. Think of a lovely tomato and mozzarella salad with plenty of basil… or a thyme-infused vodka cocktail on a warm evening!

Rhododendron blooming

May Garden Tasks:

  • Weeds: Weeds grow quickly and move into reproductive phase quickly this time of year. If you have limited time, focus on weeds near the base of plants (which rob water and nutrients) and weeds that are in flowering or fruiting stage.
  • Hunt for slugs and snails and/or apply slug bait.
  • Roses: Spray off soft-bodied aphids with water or brush off by hand; remove interior and wayward growth to allow for good air circulation; and remove any diseased leaves (black spot, rust, etc.) on the plant and soil surface.
  • Shape or prune evergreen shrubs, hedges and vines: Bring down height and width of plants if needed, remove dead wood or awkward branches. Always prune back to a node or (preferably) existing branch.
  • Shape or prune azaleas and camellias and other late winter/early spring bloomers.
  • Plant summer-flowering plants like Agastache, Cosmos, Marigolds, Petunias, Penstemon, Sunflowers, Yarrow and Zinnias. Bulbs like Alstroemeria, Cannas and Dahlias can be planted now as well.
  • Fertilize plants: Especially citrus, roses, camellias, azaleas. Got to your local nursery and look for an organic fertilizer formulated for specific plants.
  • Mulch around plants: Especially in sunny spots to retain moisture and provide a clean look.

Kale, Broccoli and Lettuce

Edible Garden:

  • Amend soil in garden beds with organic compost
  • Sow seeds for beans, corn, cucumber, pumpkin, squash
  • Plant seedlings of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant
  • Salad greens can be planted while it is still not too hot (above 75 degrees) or in the shady shelter of larger plants.
  • Plant herbs like parsley, cilantro, marjoram, oregano, thyme, and basil.
  • Thin fruit on trees like apples, pears, nectarines: Once the fruit dime-sized, remove all but one fruit per six inches. Thinning produces larger, better fruit and will prevent branches from breaking from the weight of the fruit as it reaches maturity. Branches can also be shortened to a growth point to control tree size. Keep your fruit trees small: it’s easier to maintain them over time!
  • Mulch around fruit trees to keep moisture in soil and prevent weeds.

- ebfriend