May Is the month for gardeners in the Pacific Northwest!
The rain may still be here but let’s get ready for summer parties, reading novels in the sun and all the bounty of our veggie gardens! The best selection of plants for the whole year is happening right now so come to thicket to pick out the perfect plants to really make your garden shine!
Planting tips for new starts – Dig a hole about a third bigger than the potted plant and work the surrounding soil to be planted to ensure good drainage. Loosen the soil and roots in the pot before planting. Mix in a little organic matter for an added boost. Pat down the soil into the hole and water deeply. You will need to continue to check the water frequently. Even the most drought tolerant plants will need a season of care before they can be left alone. A small depression for catching water can be helpful. Consider a water bag for larger trees.
Root bound plants – You may need to tap the pot to remove your plant. If it is extremely difficult to remove cut slits, Check to see if the plant is root bound. Are the roots very dense and tight? Loosen the root ball or in some cases even take a sharp knife and cut vertical slits in the root ball. This encourages the plants roots to divide and expand. Look for a wound tap root. Not all plants have a tap root – if it has one it should be clearly visible – they can wind themselves around the bottom of the pot and it is very important to unwind and get it growing in the right direction! A wound tap root can continue to grow in a circular fashion and never develop into an anchor for the plant. Sometimes a tree can topple over 5 years after it was planted because the tap root was not properly planted.
Potted patio containers – A few colorful planters added to a patio or porch can enliven an entire landscape.They can be a reflection of your personal style and are a great way to add instant color and interest. We have hanging baskets, pottery and all sorts of non traditional containers, as well as some very interesting annuals and textural elements to spruce up those pots.
Water gardens – Turn water pots right side up. Bring out the water plants, raise water lilies and clean up carnivorous plants by pruning off the old winter heads. Place mosquito dunks now before those buggers move in.
Maintenance – Finish any divisions before the heat of summer is upon us. Continue the search for pests and be diligent with weeds. Deadhead spent flower heads to encourage new buds. Leave spent foliage to feed the bulbs of bulbs like tulips and daffodils. Now is the best time of year for hedging as new growth will appear quickly and reduce the time you have to look at a whacked bush. If you need to prune your rhodies and want blooms for next year do it right after they have bloomed, or if you have a lovely old rhodie with a beautiful shape but it has hideous purple flowers consider pruning it later in the season as you will likely take off the new buds and inhibit the bloom for next year. Add some lime to your soil for fruiting vegetables like tomatoes, squash and peppers to prevent blossom end rot.
Water – The garden can begin to dry out this time of year but overwatering can be just as bad for the health of your plants so getting a water plan in place is wise. - Plan your garden so that thirsty plants are grouped together while drought tolerant plants have their own spot. - Water earlier in the day to avoid evaporation - If you use sprinklers be sure that they are placed reasonably and use timers to avoid waste. - Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems are more efficient. - Mulch can help conserve moisture in the ground. - Water less frequently but deeply to ensure water gets to the roots.
Vegetables – May is for planting warm-season vegetables like basil, tomatoes and peppers but not until the danger of frost is past. Check the local farmers almanac for predictions and be prepared to cover seedlings if the temperature drops. It is generally still a little chilly for squash, eggplant, cucumber and melon but they can go out if you are prepared to give them a little protection. Healthy plants can be so stunted by early exposure to cold weather that they never fully recover and your harvest is minimal. But, if you wait to long to plant cabbages lettuces, cilantro and broccoli, the coming hot weather will make them bolt and spoil your crop.
Starts – Artichoke, Basil, Broccoli, Beans, Cauliflower, Celery, Collards, Eggplant, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Onions, Parsley, Peppers, Squash, Swiss chard, Tomatoes
Seed indoor – Basil, Brussels sprouts, Cucumbers
Seed outdoor – Arugula, Asian greens, Basil, Beans, Beets, Broccoli and Brussels sprouts(for fall crop), Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cilantro, Corn (after the 15th), Dill, Kale, Lettuce, Parsnips, Pumpkins, Radish, Salad greens, Spinach, Summer squash, Swiss Chard, Turnips, Winter squash
Indoor plants – If you have tender plants that need to go back outside for the Summer it’s time for the great migration. Start in a shady location so you don’t burn the leaves that are not yet accustomed to direct sun. Give them all a little outdoor shower to clean off dusty leaves. A little extra food is a good idea as they will now have a growth spurt.
Let’s move the patio furniture back outside and start the summer parties!