Enjoy Spring With These May Garden Chores

A gardener handling soil.

We may not have had many April showers, but we certainly have May flowers! Get outside and work in the garden; it’s a great way to enjoy a spring day.

Suggested garden chores for May include:

Lawns:

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  • Do not fertilize fescue and bluegrass lawns.
  • Pull crabgrass seedlings before they turn into large plants.
  • Broadleaf (non-grass) weeds can be pulled or spot treated with broadleaf herbicide.
  • Mow cool season grasses 2 ½ to 3 inches high. Mow frequently enough to remove no more than 1/3 of the blade at a time.

Ornamentals:

  • Perennials can still be divided. Keep the new plants well watered for a few weeks.
  • It should be safe to plant annual bedding plants after the first week in May. Plant in groups for greatest impact or tuck annuals into vacancies in the perennial bed.
  • Prune spring blooming shrubs soon after blossoms fade.
  • Nothing perks up a patio or entry like a colorful container garden. Combine something tall, something trailing and some plants for continual color.
  • You can create great containers without flowers. Foliage plants will be colorful all summer. A few include elephant ears, caladium, ivy, Heuchera, sweetpotato vine, Setcreasia (purple heart), polka dot plant, Joseph’s coat, croton, artemesia, and grasses.
  • Flower and shrubbery beds can be fertilized with a slow release fertilizer.
  • If you move house plants outdoors for the summer, wait until nighttime temperatures are above 50°F. Do not place plants in direct sunlight.

Fruits:

  • Pick strawberries every day or two, remove and discard berries with gray mold.
  • Fruit trees may have set a heavy crop this year. Thin apples, pears and peaches to about 6 inches apart when the fruit is the size of a nickel.
  • Begin fungicide sprays, especially on peaches, plums and grapes.

Vegetables:

  • Check cabbage family crops for cabbage worms.
  • Thin seedlings of early plantings when they have 1 to 2 true leaves (the ones that form after the “seed leaves”).
  • Spindly tomato plants can be planted very deep as they will form roots on the buried stem. Dig a shallow trench and gently bend up the top six inches of the plant. Remove leaves that will be below the soil.
  • Put in tomato stakes at planting, especially if you buried those stems.
  • Soil temperature should be warmed up to at least 65 degrees before planting beans, melons and okra. Use a soil thermometer to ensure good germination.

Other:

  • Turn the compost pile. With warmer weather the microorganisms will kick into high gear.
  • Insects are essential for pollinating many crops. Honeybees and other pollinators are very vulnerable to insecticides. Sevin dust (carbaryl) is especially toxic to bees.

For more information, call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.