May Gardening Activities - Region 3
Gardening Tips for May
Northeast, Midwest and Central Plains Gardens
States in the region:
Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois,
Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa
South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana
Key Issues for May
- Grow your own edibles and teach your children, grandchildren and other young sprouts where their food comes from through Growums®. The delightful Growums characters will help you every step of the way toward delicious success and FUN!
- Beware of late frosts! Know the safe planting date for your area before planting any warm-season flowers and vegetables. (This can be 3-4 weeks after the last anticipated frost for your area.) If you’ve already got your garden planted, be prepared to protect plants from unexpected frosts and freezes.
- Care for your spring lawn. Mow weekly to keep grass healthy. Recycle clippings back on the lawn – don’t bag them.
- Do your best to keep plant disease problems out of your garden this year – especially apple scab, powdery mildew and botrytis blight. Understanding the basics of the “disease triangle” can help you have a healthier garden in 2012!
- Blend color, texture and form when picking your potted annuals to create a stunning container garden – no matter how small your outdoor living space.
- Start a vegetable garden in a container. You’ll save a fortune at the grocery store – and eat healthier – by growing your own produce!
- Enjoy the spring blooms of flowering dogwood. Plant this woodland native beauty in your landscape for its attractive flowers, clusters of bright red fruit and purple-red fall color.
- Control broadleaved weeds, like dandelions, in the lawn. Use a recommended herbicide, and always follow label directions carefully. Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for a legal control recommendation in your state of residence.
- Fertilize trees and shrubs (if you haven’t already) before the heat of summer arrives.
- Plan and plant a cutflower garden for summer, filled with beautiful blooms to enjoy throughout the season and into the fall – indoors, as well as out!
- Prepare your houseplants for an outdoor retreat: If you haven’t already, repot plants that are container-bound. Once nighttime temperatures stay consistently above 55 degrees F and all danger of frost has passed in your area, put houseplants outside on the deck, patio or balcony for their summer vacation.
- If you haven’t started to fertilize houseplants for the season, start now.
- Stake peonies as new growth arrives to prevent the plants from flopping.
- Allow the foliage of spring-flowering bulbs – like crocus, tulips and daffodils – to store energy for next year by yellowing and drying before you cut the leaves back.
- Put away the saltshaker and spice up your cooking with summer-loving herbs. Cilantro is an essential ingredient in international cuisine. [Rosemary] (/plants/rosmarinus-officinalis/) is great for recipe seasoning, infusing oils and spicing up potpourri. And what would many of our favorite foods be without basil?
- Remember that gardening is for kids, too! Encourage your budding little sprouts to spend time out in the garden with you. Plant sunflowers together, and enjoy a great learning experience!
- Harvest spinach, lettuce, peas, radishes and other cool-season crops as they mature. When those crops are finished, reuse the planting area for warm-season veggies to guarantee a continual harvest.
- Make way for more vegetables or flowers in your garden with raised beds. They help conserve water, avoid possible drainage problems and give you an area to grow plants in fresh, nourishing soil. Another plus: You don’t need to be a master carpenter to build your own!
- Pinch back hardy mums every two weeks from now until the 4th of July. Remove one-third of the new growth each time to encourage bushier, tighter plants.
- Care for the perennial border. Now’s the time to fertilize and divide your fall-blooming perennials.
- Add mulch to your planted landscape beds and borders to cool the soil, reduce weeds and help conserve needed soil moisture. A few inches are all that’s needed.
- Be on the lookout for tent caterpillar nests in select trees, like crabapples. Prune out the infested branch – tent and all – and dispose of it. (Never add infested branches to the compost pile!)