May has wide open gardening possibilities. Most anything you plant will take root and grow.
Although frost is not likely to come again until October, we got one on May 23, 2002. There could be a need to cover tender plants or bring them indoors for a night.
The first item on May’s to-do list is secure all of the garden seeds you will need for the rest of the year. The COVID-19 crisis has caused people to buy huge amounts of garden seeds, primarily for food crops.
As home gardeners stock up, mail-order seed companies are running low on stock and delaying shipping schedules. Seed providers’ sales have gone through the roof and some are close to being sold out for 2020.
Tomatoes are among the summer vegetables to plant this month. You will have good results whether you start with seeds or transplants.
Other crops to plant are lettuce, carrot, beet, bean (snap, butter, lima, soy, wax, etc.), pea (crowder, black-eye) and cucurbit family members, such as yellow squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelon and gourd.
Additional plantings to consider include okra, eggplant, pepper and sweet potato. All kinds of herbs are planted now, and a few sunflower seeds tucked into the soil will provide a vertical accent for your garden while making food for cardinals and butterflies.
May is not too late to plant fruits, though April would have been better. This includes tree fruits, such as apples and peaches, as well as all kinds of berries plus figs.
Container gardens require soil. Stores carry several products sold under the name potting soil that have the good drainage and aeration characteristics needed to keep roots healthy.
Years ago, there were no bags of high-quality sphagnum peat moss-based potting soil to buy. Gardeners who needed potting soil mixed their own using a recipe that was one-third each of peat moss, loamy soil and sharp builders sand.
The mowing season has begun. Grass could need cutting every five days, if the weather is rainy.
The timing for mowing lawns is based on the one-third rule. Your goal is to mow often enough you never remove more than one-third of the grass blade in any one cutting operation.
Soil and weather are perfect this month for planting flower bulbs for summer bloom. Some of the best are gladiolus, lily, tuberous begonia, caladium, canna and elephant ear.
Peace lily, Boston fern and certain other houseplants are ready for division and repotting. To divide these plants, you simply remove them from their pots, and use a large kitchen knife to cut their root masses into two or more sections.
Now that forsythia bushes have finished blooming, it is time to prune them. Shearing the plants into a round shape is quick and easy. A better way to prune is with hand shears and loppers to preserve a plant’s gracefully arching branches.
Don Davis is a retired Virginia Cooperative Extension agent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.