May is the month when everything happens in the garden! The cool weather seeds you planted in March and April are really starting to grow and as the soil warms up you can plant all the heat-lovers.
The eight basic warm-season vegetables should go in later in May or even early June when the weather is (hopefully) reliably warm: beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, squash, and tomatoes. Buy plants for eggplants, tomatoes and peppers, but you can still grow the rest from seeds.
If you started tomatoes from seed indoors, you should be hardening them off by putting them outside every day, and after a few days over night. Now that the night-time temperature is around 10 degrees, it’s safe to plant tomatoes outside. But wait a bit longer until it’s really warm for peppers, eggplants and the rest.
You can warm up the soil by covering it with clear plastic for a few days when it is sunny. Use a soil thermometer to find out just how warm your soil is.
Start cucumbers, squash and melons now in pots for planting out later. These plants hate to be transplanted so you don’t want to start them too early or leave them too long in starter pots.
Keep planting lettuce, mesclun, radishes, Asian greens, beets and carrots. If it gets hot, give greens a little shade.
If you find cilantro always goes to seed too quickly, try this trick. Seed cilantro thickly as you would mesclun mix in a flat or pot. Water well and place the container where it gets morning sun, but some shade in the afternoon. I’ve done this for the last few years and had great results harvesting cilantro frequently as a “baby green”. I even grew it indoors this way under lights all through the winter.
Plant seedlings of annual herbs, including basil, cilantro, and parsley wherever you have room in your vegetable or flower beds. Plant perennial herbs, like chives, oregano, rosemary, and thyme in permanent beds; put mint in containers to keep it under control.
Plant fall blooming perennials like asters, Helenium, Japanese anemones, and mums now for spectacular autumn flowers.
Add color to shaded spots: If you lack light, grow hybrid fuchsias in garden beds or containers; just pinch them back as they grow to make them bushy. Also try astilbes, begonias, coleus, and impatiens. Another idea is to add a pop of bright colour with a brightly coloured pot or garden ornament.
If we have another hot, dry summer, you’ll want to think of ways to conserve moisture in the soil. Spread a 2-inch layer of mulch such as bark chips over the root zones of permanent plants like azaleas and rhododendrons. When you water, water slowly and deeply in the early morning or evening when the air is cool and calm. Don’t cut lawns too short, and water lawns to 1 inch of water every two weeks; under this regime, lawns will turn the color of straw but will bounce back after temperatures cool in fall.
Detail the garden. Once plants are in the ground, add adornments like birdbaths, lanterns, and whimsical statues to give your garden a finished look. Take the time to sit in your garden and really see it. Spending a bit of quiet time in the garden helps you decide where to place garden ornaments and other focal points.
Don’t forget to feed your plants. Apply a balanced organic fertilizer regularly. We love Orgunique organic fertilizers and Reindeer’s liquid seaweed because they’re organic and work so well. Water well, and deadhead frequently, and you’ll see results within days.