May In The Garden
There is an old saying that says “The journey should be just as enjoyable as the destination” or something like that! The 2022 weather journey to spring has not been as enjoyable as we’d hoped but finally May and gardening season are here! The May spring gardening journey is usually just as enjoyable as the destination! (OK, maybe not weeding…) Most of us are inspired by thinking about those fresh vegetables and beautiful flower beds and planters we will have – finally, some color!
Hopefully you have purchased the necessary garden soil, fertilizer, containers, vegetable garden supplies and a couple pair of good gardening gloves. Some of you will have seedlings you have raised and are itching to get them out into the ground.
Which leads me to the next recommendation. Watch the weather closely during the month of May – especially the nighttime lows. As you know, each year is different. Be cautious. Smart gardeners know that late frosts still occur in May, sometimes right up to the end of the month.
Have some frost cloth, cold frames, and row tents to cover any tender perennials and vegetables that may be up but are still not totally hardened off. You can also cover any previously started mixed hanging baskets or mixed containers.
Weather permitting, plant peas and spinach during the first two weeks of May. By May 15, plant potatoes, beans, carrots, corn, and lettuce.
Early to mid-May plant hanging baskets and mixed containers. Place in a bright, sheltered area up by the house foundation and cover with frost cloth at night.
While you are waiting for the nighttime frosts to subside, dethatch, aerate, and top dress your lawn with a shallow layer of top-quality topsoil. Fertilize the lawn with a high nitrogen (first number) granular slow-release lawn food or a water-soluble lawn food using a hose end sprayer. Return mulched grass clippings to the lawn soil by cutting your grass frequently during spring and summer at a high lawn mower blade setting. When the weather warms up significantly keep raising the blade on your lawn mower to help preserve soil moisture.
All of your established perennials should be growing well in May. Early flowering perennials such as daylilies and iris can be divided and replanted in May as well. As you shop for perennials, remember we are in Zone 3. Check plant pot tags for Zone information or ask the friendly staff at Floral Acres for their perennial recommendations.
As spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils finish blooming, nip the spent blooms and stems down at the point they attach to the main plant. Let the leaves die back naturally as this builds up the bulb’s food supply for next year. After the leaves have been removed, mark the bulbs’ location with a small painted rock/rocks. Paint the rock with a picture of the bulbs and when dry, mark their location.
May and June are the best months for planting trees and shrubs. Try to avoid planting trees in summer – it can be way too hot. Use Mykes or a 10-52-10 starter fertilizer in the planting hole to encourage good root development. Water any newly planted trees and shrubs often the first year. You will not see a lot of new growth the first year as the tree/ shrub is using this first spring to make new feeder and anchor roots. If the new tree needs support, stake it for the first two years only. When planting a tree, the most important thing to remember is not to plant the tree too deep. The point where the tree trunk starts to flare just before the root ball begins should be at ground level.
Think about color and different leaf textures when choosing plants for your landscape. Mix solid color shrubs such as Diablo Ninebark with contrasting colors such as Gold Flame Spirea or variegated foliage shrubs. Add evergreens to deciduous tree/shrub planting beds to act as focal points and add different textures to your landscape.
Gradually harden off annuals and tender perennials. Set plants outside during the day so they will get used to the brighter light (not direct sun), wind and climate of Saskatoon! Bring them inside at night or cover with frost cloth. Remove old blooms and new buds to encourage branching out and increased bloom production. Check for water needs daily.
Prune shrub roses just to shape them and take out any dead or dying wood. Shrub roses will bloom on new growth that starts to bud in May.
Consider keeping your bird feeder out a bit longer into May. Birds need the extra nutrition; especially at nesting time.
But most of all enjoy the wonderful weather and plant what YOU love. Be thankful, be kind and enjoy May 2022!