May in the Garden

April 22, 2024
Sue Adams

May for me is a magical month in the garden. The weather is warming up, and the garden is awake and ready for transplants. May is one of the busiest times in the garden, so here’s a checklist to help you out:

  • Add mulch around trees, shrubs and landscape beds to reduce weeds and conserve moisture.
  • Are your hosta and day lilies crowded? Divide and plant the divisions.
  • Harvest rhubarb stalks and make a rhubarb pie or crisp. My mom used to make a rhubarb sauce for ice cream.
  • Allow daffodil foliage to remain until yellow to nourish the bulbs for next year’s gorgeous display. I know of a few gardeners who bend the leaves and tie them or hold with a rubber band so they’re out of sight.
  • Prepare for critters! Deer, groundhogs, moles…If you’re just starting a vegetable garden, plan to put a fence around it. Check existing fencing for holes. One year Mark swore that woodchucks were flying into his garden because he just couldn’t figure out how the critters were getting in. Then he discovered a tiny baby squeezing through. Chicken wire stopped him. There are lots of great deer repellents sold in the garden center that really work. I use these on containers with tasty flowers like petunias.
  • Move patio furniture outdoors and decorate your outdoor space.

Get the garden bed ready

  • Get rid of the weeds while they’re still small.
  • Plan where you’ll be walking and add pavers or stones to mark paths.
  • Add organic material and soil amendments and thoroughly mix into the soil. Improving your soil’s physical properties will provide a better environment for roots to grow where they’ll find water, air & nutrients.

As soon as frost is no longer a threat, planting possibilities are endless!!

  • Plant vegetables and flowers in beds. And don’t forget tender herbs like basil.
  • Invest in a row cover. These specially designed fabrics can protect against frost but are also effective in blocking out insects and birds. More berries for you!
  • Have cages handy for support of tomatoes and peppers.
  • Create stunning containers! (Easy to do – optional is an accent plant, placed in the center or back of the container, surround with mounding flowers like petunias, nemesia, lobelia, euphorbia, geraniums, then add one or two trailers like vinca vine or lysimachia). Signs above the flowers at Adams tell you which flowers are great for accents, which mound and which trail.
  • Plant seeds of beans, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons…Pick up at the store or look online at Adams’ Easy Vegetable Guide which tells what to plant when and which crops you can plant more than once!
  • Plant dahlia tubers in a sunny location with fertile, well-drained soil. Plant the tubers in the hole with the points, or “eyes” facing up, then cover with 1 to 3 inches of soil. You can add more soil as they sprout, up to ground level. Don’t water the tubers when you plant them, unless its very hot and dry. Don’t forget to label the varieties in case you want to enter the flowers at the Dutchess County Fair!
  • Plant gladiola bulbs. Continue planting every two weeks until July so that you will have beautiful blooms to enter the Dutchess County Fair Cut Flower competition!
  • Relax and enjoy a beautiful May day. You deserve it!