Early in the month make the first planting of snap beans, Swiss chard, and herbs. Check seed packets for suggested spacing. In smaller gardens, space rows a little closer than recommended. Do not crowd them any closer in the rows, the plants won't have enough space to develop properly. Thin radishes, lettuce, spinach, carrots, and beets as needed.
Cultivate shallow at least once a week to keep soil loose and weeds down. Side-dress with fertilizer and mulch when plants have established themselves. Asparagus will continue heavy production through early May. When emerging spears are pencil thin, stop picking, but do fertilize and mulch heavily.
About mid-month, plant warm-weather crops such as corn, lima beans, pole and bush beans, pumpkins, summer and winter squash. Continue making succession plantings (plant some radished – wait two week – plant some more radishes – wait two weeks…) of beets, carrots, radishes, spinach and lettuce.
In mid to late May, transplant peppers, eggplant, squash, melons and herb seedlings into the garden. Water heavily and frequently if spring is dry, but do not mulch yet.
When buying tomatoes pick those that are dark green in color, with thick stems and no yellow leaves. Pick off all flowers and tomatoes, they will sap the plant's energy now when it's trying to establish itself in a new environment. When planting, burying as much as 3" of the stem; the little hairs you see are potential roots. Tomatoes need full sun but plant them on a cloudy day, so they can adjust to their new home before getting a daylong dose of sunshine.
As new shoots appear in perennial beds during early May, side-dress generously with a good organic fertilizer. Divide Mums and Shasta daisies as soon as growth begins. After the last frost, sow snapdragons, four-o'clocks, marigolds, asters, nasturtium, tuberoses, zinnias, and other tender flowers and bulbs.
Pinch back mums at the end of the month. Prune mock orange, forsythia, flowering almond, and other spring-flowering shrubs after blossoms fade. A good rule when it comes to pruning flowering shrubs is to prune them after their flowers fade. Most flowering shrubs set their flowering sequence for next year soon after the flowers die.
Keep an eye open for bagworms on evergreens and shrubs. Also tent worms are starting at this time. Check lilacs for scale; scrape off now before it spreads.
Do not cut off leaves of spring bulb flowers until they have yellowed naturally. But do snip out the seedpods that form after the flower fades.
Do not remove ants from peonies; no ants no blooms. To get bigger blooms remove the inferior buds that surround the terminal or main bud at the end of each stalk.
Remove seedpods after lilac have flowered.
Start spraying your roses with a fungicide every 10 days until a temperature of 85 degrees prevails during the day.
Remove spent Rhododendron flowers, the seeds they try to grow will only sap energy better used else where on the plant. Feed them at this time with a Rhodo fertilizer.
Early in the month, fruit set on trees should begin fleshing out. Remove misshapen or damaged sets. Thin lightly if trees are exceptionally crowed, but hold off on serious thinning until after June fruit drop. Remove suckers and water sprouts from apple trees.
Cut back black raspberry shoots when they reach 30 inches.
Pinch blossoms from this year's planting of strawberries. Mulch between them with pine needles, clean straw, grass clippings or well-rotted compost. In established beds, remove and destroy strawberry plants showing signs of disease.
Plant strawberries at this time. Make sure that the crowns are planted at ground level. If planted to deep the struggle to push foliage through the dirt will exhaust the plant and berry production will be light. If to the crown is to high it will freeze and die.
Reseeding can begin at this time. An application of a seed starter fertilizer would give the grass seed a jump on the weed seeds that may blow in.
If the month has been warm Weed-N-Feeds may be applied to established lawns at the end of the month.
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