May Chores 2013: Time To Get Out The Gardening Tools

Ilona Erwin

It has a been quite a cold spring in many areas of the country, and Ohio, while fluctuating wildly, has had cooler weather for most of April. That is usually a time filled with gardening, but I have delayed most of my chores to May. This May is turning out to have fine gardening weather.

May Task Calender

May, with Mother’s Day as a focal point is the main time for planting frost tender flowers. It is the platinum rule for Ohio to wait until then to plant the tomatoes, peppers, and frost sensitive plants.

In fact, I saw badly damaged French Lavender plants in a “big box” store- they were clipped by late unseasonably cold temperatures. The same will happen to flowering annuals if planted too much before the last frost date.

The upside of so much waiting is that the month of April had almost sauntered through the calendar days without the usual spring rush. The downside is that we have all those tasks waiting for the sound of the gun signaling that the race to get everything planted before the weather heats up or dries out.

the big jobs:

Planting annuals

Have you bought flats of annuals yet? How to plant your flats of annuals.

Pages for planting the annuals:

Planting the tomatoes and other frost tender vegetables of the Solanum family:
There is an art to growing good tomatoes, but the basics are quite easy. When planting tomato transplants lay them in a short trench so you can cover about a third of the stem- roots will grow all along that stem and strengthen the plant for fruit production.

Peppers are simply put into the ground in a sunny place; they love to be near tomatoes.

Getting a head start on the weeding

This is what I have been doing, and it accelerates during May. why not take advantage of these beautiful days to be outside? It is important to not allow weeds to take hold with deep roots or get to the place where they spread seed. It is best to remove weeds early in the season, when possible, although this is one of those jobs that never really ends.

My husband got the mowers out last month and readied them for the season. April rains and cool spring weather gave the grass a lush green growth spurt, so we are in earnest in the mowing season. Trimming with weed whacker under the fencelines, and using hand shears for a few spots around rocks.

If you haven’t quite gotten that far yet, I found an article that explains the process of getting your mower ready:

How to get your mower ready

There is so much to do in May that it is easy to feel overwhelmed with all the tasks at hand. Just take them one by one, and enjoy your gardening, don’t feel that everything must be done in one month. Take time to smell the flowers… there are lots of fragrant ones.

What is blooming this month in Central Ohio:
The viburnums with their gorgeous scent are filling the air and they are full of bloom this year. The earliest are done, but the V.Burkwoodii and the V.Carlesii are early May bloomers.

My Sweet Cherry trees, and the sour Prunus cerasus are abloom. The crabapples never looked better. My crabapple trees out in the country are a little behind the city trees, which are in peak flower.

The money plants are flowering throughout the yard. they are a bit of a nuisance, but so pretty that I don’t mind. I just pull out th e extras. Lunaria annua, has a purple cruciferous flower which gives away that it is a member of the Mustard family (Brassicaceae). Money Plant flowers have a light fragrance.

The Amelancheir trees, Juneberry, are blooming now, ready for the blue berries that will feed the birds in June.

Time to fertilize the roses

The old fashioned ones will be flowering soon and you know that next month is the supreme rose blooming month. Use a fertilizer with more of the middle number for their rose production. I also have some epsom salts I will be adding to mine.

Fertilize Evergreens

Oh go ahead and fertilize everything, but the evergreens need it early in the season, and then the stopping point is in July.

You can still plant Perennials

But get them in soon so have time to root and get established before the heat of summer.

Of course you will be plant shopping, and the one rule I have (that may be of help to you) is that I don’t buy any more plants until I have planted all those I bought the last time I was out to the garden center (or wherever!)

Happy Spring gardening, Friends.






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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.