May 1 to May 31
Discover what you should be doing right now. Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.
Here's what's happening in your gardening region:
Summer is coming soon to a garden near you, so it’s time to focus on maintaining your spring garden while the days are still relatively bearable. You can turn a shady spot into an oasis during heat waves by planting luscious low maintenance, shade tolerant and evergreen groundcovers under trees where it’s too dark for grass or vegetables. Now is also a good time to keep your garden from getting out of control. Learn to use supports like tomato cages and bean towers to keep your veggies (and perennials) from flopping over in a tangled mess, and read some articles with helpful tips on how to keep your garden free of weeds without hassle. It’s too late to plant pepper seeds and tomato seeds, but you can still get away with growing them if as Garden Ready plants since they’ve already gotten a head start. May is a busy month to be sure, but be sure to take the time to stop and enjoy the garden you’ve worked so hard to create - after you’ve finished weeding, of course.
Support your Plants
If you are trying to keep up with earlier plantings of beans, tomatoes and squashes, you probably didn’t need to be told that they could use a little support to keep stems upright and vegetables off the ground. Even if your spring plantings are still little more than seedlings, you shouldn’t wait any longer to get a support system in place. Tomato cages, trellises, bean towers and other supports benefits you in other ways too; giving your veggie garden an orderly and well maintained look while making it easier for you to access your plants to treat for pests and get your harvest. Here are some videos that show you how to use supports in your own garden.
Plant Shade Tolerant Groundcovers
Now that all of the trees have leafed out, you might be noticing some shady areas of your lawn or garden where the lawn, vegetables and flowers are struggling to get the sunlight they need. Do not despair! A shady spot in the garden is really an asset in our hot summers, especially when you’ve brightened it up with masses of shade tolerant groundcovers. There are lots of colors and textures from which to choose, and they all look superb when combined with tropical plants like gingers, heliconias and elephant ears. The gold and chartreuse Carex ‘Evergold’s grassy fountains of foliage bring bright and bubbly cheer to some of the dimmer areas of the garden while the nearly black and possibly purple leaves of Ajuga ‘Chocolate chip can be used to bring drama and depth to the shadows. If you’re after greenery, ferns offer a feathery lushness to your garden like nothing else.
Order Garden Ready Plants
It might be too late to plant tomato seeds in our climate zone, but you can ‘cheat’ a little by ordering ready-made potted tomato plants to transplant to your garden, and you might even add some other garden ready veggies while you’re at it. Even if you’ve already planted pepper seeds or will be planting pepper seeds soon, there’s a lot to be said for having an extra plant or two to get you started and keep you fed until your vegetable seedlings start producing their own harvests. Burpee also carries garden ready perennials and fruit trees so that you can get a head start on a lush and bountiful backyard. Here are some of the vegetables offered here as grown plants.
Get Rid of Weeds
With hotter days approaching, now is the best time to wage war on your garden’s weeds. First off, make it easier on yourself by pulling weeds in morning when it’s cooler and the ground has been moistened by dew. If the soil is dry, then give it a thorough watering and loosen it up with a fork or a cultivator so that the weeds’ roots can be easily pulled up with the plant. If you don’t have time to remove all of the weeds in your garden yet, then begin by knocking out the ones that have flowered. Knocking out these mother ships will prevent them from releasing even more seeds onto your freshly turned soil. When you’ve finally made some headway on your weeds with the help of the articles below, add at least an inch of mulch to your beds to prevent any new weeds.
Weed with the right tools
You wouldn’t plant a garden without a shovel, and you shouldn’t waste time pulling weeds without a tool either. There are certainly going to be weeds that require hand pulling, but don’t waste another minute hurting your back over your day-to-day weeding tasks. The Hori-Hori garden knife cuts through the woodiest and most established weeds, but its curved blade also makes it useful for digging. The Cobra Head weeder has a nicely weighted forged arm that reduces fatigue, and its flared and pointed tip can remove weeds with precision – especially useful near root vegetables or bulbs. Weeding with effective tools is so rewarding that you might actually look forward to weed duty! Well, almost.