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.