May Garden Tips and Chores

May Garden Tips and Chores
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May Garden Tips and ChoresThe month of May is generally mild in terms of climate across North America. Flora and fauna begin the renewal process. Barn yard babies are spotted and gardens of every shape and size are being prepared for the growing season. I have some general garden tips for this time of year.

Bulbs and Tulips: It's important to care properly for spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils because what you do now helps the bulbs grow and multiply for next spring.  After your spring bulbs have bloomed, snip off the spent flower. Leave the foliage alone until it yellows and turns brown.

The plant won't put energy into forming seeds, instead it will go into the bulbs. This is a good thing, and worth putting up with the wilted foliage for a bit.  If you want to divide your bulbs or move them to a new spot, wait until the foliage is yellow, then dig them up carefully and move them to the new location.  Leave the foliage on the bulb even if you move it.  Again, don't trim it off until it's brown.

Trees and Shrubs: It's also time to mulch around young or new trees and shrubs. We do this each year and it's made a big difference in their growth.  Don't pile the mulch up tight to the trunk, leave an inch or so of space.

We put down compost first then a thick layer of mulched straw. Grass clippings can also be used as long as they are dried first. Never use the clippings while they are fresh, or if the lawn has been treated with chemicals.

Pruning: Prune any hedges or shrubs that need to be shaped. If the shrub is spring blooming, then wait until it's finished before pruning, unless there is dead, damaged wood-that can be carefully cut out right away.

Pinching: In Michigan our chrysanthemums are just coming back, but in warmer climates, start watching for buds which should be pinched out until July. I was busy one year and forgot to do this. It made a huge difference in the blooms, which were very sparse by the time fall rolled around. 

Plant supports: Now is also the time to put plant supports in place for peonies, delphiniums or other perennials that tend to become heavy and bend over when in bloom. It does make a big difference, especially with peonies.

Even in the North it's time to direct sow calendula, bachelor button, nasturtium, marigold, morning glory and cosmos. 

Zones: Zone 6 and above should be able to sow cucumbers, beans, squash, corn and okra.Zone 3-5 should wait til June 1st for the above if they don't have protection, but we can sow peas, spinach and greens of all types.  

Lastly, be sure to enjoy spring by taking walks, watching for the wildflowers, butterflies and new blooms.  I took this picture over the weekend when I noticed this type of butterfly on our cherry blossoms.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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