JOBS THIS MONTH
Amending Soils – This is a great time to amend your soil in preparation to plant. Adding composted soil will help the root systems develop to their full potential, thus making a healthier, stronger plant that will be able to combat any disease in the future.
Perennials/Biennials – Stake or ring plants before they reach 6 inches. If hot weather begins late in the month, mulch around plants to prevent drying out. Add composted soil to your regular soil for a stronger root system and thus stronger, more beautiful plants.
This is also a good time to lift out old established plants and add organic matter or composted soil to the hole and divide if necessary. Newly divided plants need to be planted at the same depth as planted before.
Seeds – Newly seeded plants need to be accustomed to the outdoors or hardened off. Gradually put the seedlings outside for longer periods of time per day until seedlings can take the cooler nighttime temperatures. Keep an eye on these plants until they recover completely.
Remember, the seeds you don’t use this year need to be stored in an airtight container and stored in a cool, dry spot.
Weeds – Pull or hoe weeds out of your garden and vegetable gardens. Make sure you get the entire root if possible. Be diligent about weeding to keep weeds under control. Mulching between plants will also keep weeds controlled.
Compost Pile – Continue to use your newly composed soil in your garden. Turn the compost pile and start adding material (cut in smaller pieces) from your garden cleanup and appropriate kitchen scraps.
Acid-Loving Plants – If Azalea leaves or other acid-loving plants are yellowing, use a quick, safe spring tonic. Mix two tablespoons of cider vinegar in a quart of water and pour it on the soil. The leaves should return to their green color.
New Peonies – If you are planting new peonies, remove the blooms the 1st year to help the plant set strong roots. Cut the buds off to ensure no blooms. You want to leave as much foliage as possible to strengthen the entire plant.
Don’t fret over ants, just blow or brush them off.
Insects/Disease/Pests – Aphids, slugs, diseases, weeds and animals are starting to become problems in the garden so be watchful for those signs in your garden. Use environmental friendly controls whenever possible. If problems are caught early or preventive methods are used before the problems develop, the entire plant won’t be affected.
- Get slugs in their tiny stage while they are easier to control with collars or bait.
- A bottle of Tabasco sauce mixed in a gallon of water and sprayed on plants usually keeps rabbits away.
- Insecticidal soaps on the foliage can keep away many aphids or mites.
Vines/Groundcovers – Now is a good time to make sure all the vine supports are sturdy and repaired.
Some groundcover can be trimmed and renovated now.
PLANTING IN THE GARDEN
Frost Date – May 15th is usually the last frost date. But to be entirely safe wait until the end of May or when consistent daytime temperatures are 55 degrees or more for planting of annuals.
Daytime temps of 70 degrees are best for any tender plants or houseplant brought outside.
Soil Preparation – Any planting needs to start with good soil. Amend soil prior to planting.
Perennials/Biennials – All perennials and biennials can be planted at this time. Make sure the plant is watered prior to transplanting so the root system can transition better.
- The planting hole needs to be twice as wide and the same depth as the rootball of the plant.
- Shake as much of the artificial soil mix off the plant as possible and mix that soil with the garden soil.
- Set the plant at the depth it was growing, spread the roots and fill the hole. Pat down gently into the soil.
- Water in to soak and water again to soak.
- Mulching is a good idea so the plant doesn’t dry out in the summer heat.
Annuals – Cool-season annuals (pansy, viola, poppies, stock, ranunculus, etc.) should already be in your garden. Some may be done by the time the hot weather of June comes. One annual exception is Snapdragon that should bloom from spring to frost. Look for similar annuals when buying.
Warm-season annuals are ready to be put in your garden after May 15th; however the end of May may be best for the really tender annuals.
- Remember to water all annuals before and after transplanting to make the transition easier.
- Save some money: don’t space annuals too closely (look at mature width when you buy) or you will overcrowd plants and get poor bloom production.
- Set the plants at the proper depth: too deep and they’ll rot; too shallow and they’ll fall over.
- Annuals grow very quickly when the weather turns warm (too cool and they pout). Annuals also dry out quickly in hot weather; keep a watchful eye on new plants and their water needs.
Fertilizing – Newly transplanted annuals need a mix of water and 20-20-20 fertilizer (one cupful per plant) applied to give them a good start.
- Later applications of fertilizer mix will be needed on annuals throughout the growing season.
Newly planted perennials and biennials will need an application of a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 fertilizer mix or time-release fertilizer.
- As established perennials and biennials are vigorously growing in spring, apply a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 fertilizer mix (providing 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet). This application should be sufficient for perennials and biennials for the entire season.
Water – Soak in new plants immediately. Water early in the morning so the plants soak up their moisture needs before the heat of the day.
- Keep a watchful eye on newly planted plants, especially annuals which need more water than others.
- Established perennials and biennials need infrequent watering. If a drought occurs and the plants wilt, apply 1 inch of water early in the day. This allows the plants to dry before the temperatures drop so the plants get the full benefit of the water.
Blooms – Continue to cut off faded blooms to allow the energy to go back into the bulb for next season instead of into seed development.
Foliage – Protect the foliage of the bulb as this is where the bulb gets its energy for next season.
- Hide the old leaves with other emerging perennials (such as daylilies or hosta). Braiding of bulb leaves will create a pocket for water to collect and rot the plant and bulb.
- Cut back leaves if necessary when they are completely yellow.
Fertilizing – Fertilize after the blooms fade. Mix the fertilizer with the soil at the base of the bulb. (not on the leaves or you’ll kill them leaving no energy development for next year’s bulb)
Summer Bulbs/Tubers/Rhizomes/Corms – As soon as the soil warms you can plant these.
- If you haven’t done so clean, divide, and dust with fungicide for planting this month.
- Wait until the soil is not too wet. Squeeze a handful of soil into a ball; if it crumbles when you poke it with your finger, you’re good. Sandy soils are the exception; those soils can be planted when wet.
- Summer bulbs are available in garden centers now. If you haven’t already tried summer bulbs, this would be a great time to try them out to expand your plantings or fill in where something is missing.
General Care – You should already have cleaned up the beds, rototilled and added amendments to the soil as needed.
Garden Ornaments or Supports – Clean and repair any garden ornaments or supports that you are putting back into your vegetable garden.
Cool-Season Harvest/Thinning – Continue to harvest all spring crops, mature asparagus and rhubarb.
If you have direct seeded crops, start to thin carrots, beets, kohlrabi or late lettuce.
Planting – Set out some plants in early May if daytime temperatures are 55 degrees, however provide protection for cold nights. Be sure to uncover those plants in the morning.
After the last frost date (May 15th) you can plant some crops, but it’s best to wait until near the end of the month for most summer crops (steady temps above daytime high of 70 degrees).
Direct Sowing – Check to see which vegetables can be direct sowed and plant according to directions.
Pest Control – Monitor for insects, diseases, weeds and animals.
- Control methods for soil borne and transplant diseases should be utilized when possible. Use environmental friendly controls whenever feasible.
- Do not overwater as many diseases can develop.
- Mulching in beds is a great water-management and weed control.
- Weeds can be controlled by hand or hoe method.
- Animal damage is hard to control and many methods are available. Fencing may be the most reliable control.
Spring Maintenance – Winter mulch should be replaced with fresh mulching material.
- Shredded bark, wood chips, or other coarse organic material will keep soil from compacting, reduce evaporation, and reduce the chances of heavy rains splashing water and spreading disease.
Pruning – Prune back the canes once the emerging growth develops. Remove the winter die-back on the canes and try to keep as many leaves on the plants as possible.
Watering – Roses need about 1 inch of water per week. Usually, there is enough rain at this time of year. Do not water unless the soil is dry.
Fertilize – Fertilize as the leaves unfurl with a water soluble (Peters or Rapid-Gro or other rose fertilizer) following directions for mixing on the package and apply 1-2 cupfuls per plant.
-OR- use granular 10-10-10 (or something similar) using 1 handful spread evenly around each rose. WATER in to soak and wash any spilled fertilizer off plants.
Disease/Insects/Pests – Monitor roses every few days for insect and disease problems.
- Use a baking soda spray as preventive for mildew and black spot.
Maintenance – Spring lawn care includes:
- Rake and cultivate the lawn
- Core-aerate if lawn is compacted with thatch
- Renovate bad patches
- Broadcast seed for a fuller, lusher lawn.
New Lawns/Renovations – There is still time to seed, sod or renovate your lawn before the temperatures get too high.
- The disadvantage of doing it now is that the weed seeds of crabgrass and foxtail also germinate now, so some weeds may be a future problem.
- Sodding will eliminate these problems with weed seeds.
- Lawn renovations or new installations are best done in the fall, but with some care it can be done in May.
Watering – New, renovated or sodded lawns need to be watered sparingly in the spring.
- Usually light, daily watering is needed. However, spring usually means much rain. Don’t overwater or you will bring on other disease problems.
- Grasses don’t need water until they begin to wilt (when footprints don’t spring back after you walk on the lawn). If wilted, apply 1 inch of water per application and don’t water again until it wilts.
- Automatic sprinklers often do more harm than good because they run on the sprinkler schedule– not necessarily what the grass needs.
- In some years watering is unnecessary most of the season. In this age of conservation, a lawn is pretty, but not a necessity.
Fertilizing/Prevention – If necessary, apply a pre-emergent crabgrass herbicide to the lawn. Spring is the time problems develop. Check for other disease problems and control as needed.
Mowing – Cool-season grasses start flowering now. Proper mowing will cut these heads off as they develop and is important for healthy lawns.
- Grass dictates how often to mow. The more fertilizer, water and vigor the more often you will mow.
- Mow often enough that NO MORE THAN 1/3rd to ½ of the length of the grass blade is removed at a time. (2 ½ inches tall is usually best)
Equipment Maintenance – Check all lawn mower equipment.
- If you have not done so in fall, drain old gasoline and put in new gas
- Make sure oil levels are correct
- Repair anything on the mower
- Sharpen the blade
Planting – Spring is the best time to plant trees, shrubs and fruit trees.
- Follow planting instructions for each type (container, balled & burlapped and bare-root). Each tree and shrub has special needs for planting and care. Find out what they are.
- Best advice is to remove all twine, burlap and wire baskets or your roots will not grow properly. Many large, older trees have died because of this problem.
- Remember to plant at the right depth: at the root line(don’t expect the container to be correct or the balled & burlap line to be correct) FIND WHERE THE ROOTS BEGIN AND PLANT AT THAT LEVEL.
- Also remember do not mulch up the tree trunk or shrub stem. Roots will develop high up the tree and will eventually kill the tree or shrub years later.
Tree Facts – If you research each tree, shrub or fruit tree for its needs and care for them accordingly, you will have wonderful, healthy trees and shrubs for years to come.
Pruning – Prune spring-flowering shrubs (lilac, forsythia, viburnum) immediately after they bloom.
Prune fall-flowering shrubs after flowering in the fall or winter.
Too Many Plants or Seedlings? – If you’ve seeded too many plants and no place to plant them, it’s not too late to draw up a garden plan. Identify the plants you do not need and compost them OR give the rest away. Garden buddies, neighbors and friends will enjoy your bounty.
Journal – Look over last year’s journal for helpful hints or jobs that need to be done now or in the future.
If you haven’t started a garden journal now is a good time to start recording…
- What your garden looks like
- What is planted
- What jobs need to be done
- Other garden ideas you might have for the future.
Record Keeping – Record the dates and names of all plants and care needs.
- Keeping records is tiresome, but there are some wonderful tips that arise from keeping records of bulbs, plants, annuals, trees, shrubs, and other plants in your garden.
- Especially note any seed information for next year. You may determine the correct sowing date and decide direct sowing could be best.
- You can note successes and failures, what to plant, and what to avoid (numerous non-successes in the past).
- Sometimes you don’t recognize an emerging plant, but your records can tell you what plants are planted in which beds so that you can generally find out what it is.