Garden To Do List May

In my garden every season has its peak and May is definitely the best month of spring. The roses are in full bloom, cool season vegetables such a lettuce, broccoli and peas are ready to harvest, and there’s not a pest or disease in sight. I try to make my garden to do list as long as possible so I can spend every day working outside.

Here’s a list of things to do in your garden during May that may be helpful for you:

  • Enclose your veggie garden with a rabbit proof fence. A 30-inch tall chicken wire fence will keep rabbits out of your garden. To keep them from digging under the fence bury the wire about 1-foot deep and bend the top of the wire outward about a foot so they can’t hop over.
  • Evergreen magnolias such a M. grandiflora should be planted in late spring when their roots are actively growing.  If transplanted in late fall or winter their roots will not be able to grow quickly enough to become established.
  • Wrap tomato seedling stems with aluminum foil to deter cutworms. Once the plants mature the stem will thicken enough that these pests won’t be a problem and you can remove the foil.
  • Deadhead rhododendron blooms. This will direct the plants energy toward producing flower buds for next year rather than seeds.
  • Repot houseplants that have outgrown their accommodations. Move them outdoors for their summer vacation when nighttime temperatures stay consistently above 60 degrees F.
  • Change the color of your old-fashioned hydrangea blooms. If you have a blue hydrangea, and would like it to have lavender to pink flowers, raise the alkalinity in your soil by adding 4 ounces of lime around the base of the shrub. Do this incrementally until you get the color you want. Depending on your soil, it could take a few growing seasons. To turn a pink hydrangea blue, add aluminum sulfate to the soil around the base of your plant. Follow the label directions carefully and don’t overdo it.
  • Before planting in clay pots, pre-soak them in a wheelbarrow of water for 5 or 10 minutes. If you plant in terra-cotta when it is dry, it wicks moisture from the soil and the new plantings.
  • Fertilize and deadhead your repeat blooming roses after the flowers fade to encourage a second round in early summer. When applying granular fertilizer, avoid getting it on foliage to prevent fertilizer burn.
  • Are you battling powdery mildew on tall garden phlox? Try one of these fungus resistant varieties: Phlox ‘Miss Kelly’, Phlox ‘Katherine’, Phlox ‘Bright Eyes’, Phlox ‘David’, Phlox ‘Franz Schubert’.
  • Welcome toads to your garden by offering them a source of water and a place to stay. One toad can eat from ten to twenty thousand insects a year. You can make a toad house by partially burying a terra cotta pot on its side.
  • To help your garden mums maintain a more compact form, pinch them back after they are 6 to 8 inches tall. The idea is to reduce the height by about half. Repeat the process again in mid-July.
  • Fertilize your warm season lawn grass in June. If using a granular fertilizer, add flour to the spreader. This will help you see where you’ve been so you won’t over fertilize. For the least impact on the environment, choose an organic fertilizer blend.
  • Sow the seeds of summer annuals such as cosmos, celosia, sunflowers and globe amaranth. These can be sown directly in the garden after the last frost date has passed and the soil has warmed.