Categories: Organic Gardening

May Garden Checklist

By Published On: May 1, 2014
May Garden Checklist

May Garden Checklist


May comes and the growing season seems to be here in a hot minute. No more dreaming over seed packets. It’s time to plant, weed and get primed for summer. I like to say I pace myself but, in a month like May, I find that once I get started one thing leads to the next and it’s non-stop. I’ve crossed 5 things off the list and added 10 more. Here are a handful of May tasks:

  • Tidy bulbs. Deadhead flowering stalks and, if leaves have yellowed, cut them back to the ground.
  • Tend your compost. It’s ready to be turned and may be in need of sifting. This is when I take a minute to marvel. Amazing to think what the compost pile looked like just a few months ago and now it’s rich and ready for the next round of planting and seed starting.
  • Harvest winter and early spring crops. If you’re in a Mediterranean climate like California or simply a warm hardiness zone (7/8 or above) you may have chard, lettuces, kale, onions, artichokes, snap peas, broccoli and even potatoes to gather before preparing for your late spring/summer planting.
  • Irrigation check — make sure all systems are go — heads are working, lines intact and water is going where you want it.
  • Rake and tidy perennial borders, especially in colder climates where snow and fall leaves have been sitting the past few months.  It’s time to make room for what’s to come up next. Maybe hollyhocks?





  • Seed and plant. Here’s just a few of the crops on my list: melons, cucumbers, summer & winter squash, pumpkins, eggplant, corn, popcorn, tomatoes, peppers, sunflowers, beans and strawberries. Oh, but there’s so many choices. If you’re planting for the first time, start with the things you love or want your children to love (and eat), maybe 2 to 5 varieties, and go from there.
  • Weeds will be popping up in places you forgot they grew. Time to get after them before they take hold.
  • Prep stakes and supports for crops like pole beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. Better now than trying to right them later.
  • Mulch and compost flower and veggie beds but leave areas of bare soil. Butterflies and bees need bare soil for puddling (drinking) and to access nests.
  • Have your soap spray handy. The aphids may be coming before the ladybugs beat them to it.

Yay! It’s May. What’s on your list?

Grow what you love. Pass the pistil.

Handy Helen -- Garden Maker


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About the Author: Emily Murphy

I’ve learned there’s something wonderfully powerful in the simple act of growing. Here, in our gardens, we can repair ourselves and our plots of earth with our own two hands. GROW WHAT YOU LOVE and GROW NOW!


  1. Greg May 7, 2014 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    Hey friends! Dirt to Tarnished Fork, I love it. Dirt to Mouth? Dirt to Dinner. Or something like that. :) Those asparagus were life changing.

    • Emily Murphy May 8, 2014 at 7:14 am - Reply

      I missed the life changing asparagus. But I did come away with the life changing honey… :) Greg, thanks for inviting me to join in. So many wonderful garden movers and shakers.

  2. Kelley May 5, 2014 at 10:39 am - Reply

    It was great to meet you at the Dirt to Fork event on Saturday. We are putting your tips to work in our garden. Between your sunflower seedlings, the honey from Brian Fishback, asparagus from the Durst family, eggs from Jill’s lovely hens and some rummage sale items, I came home feeling I had robbed a bank.

    • Emily Murphy May 5, 2014 at 11:04 am - Reply

      Kelly, I loved meeting you and your family! Thanks for chatting and sharing ideas for your garden. And your daughter kept the “show” lively with her questions, such a treat. Please send pics as the sunflowers grow and your garden transforms. Hope to see it one day. Let’s stay in touch. Thanks again, Emily