What to do with your garden in May?

Repotting Plants: Indoor and outdoor plants that are kept in pots may now need to be repotted. Carefully remove the plants from their pots and check the root to soil ratio. If there are more roots than soil, consider moving this plant to a larger pot. There are some exceptions – some varieties such as small containers. For example, spider plants grow better when they are a little tied up in the pot. Unlike April, when life gets hectic, your pot station can cool down for a few days. Houseplants left outside overnight in May do not automatically die. Whether or not you need a larger pot, consider refreshing everyone’s soil by adding a layer of compost or soil on top.

Up Your Watering Game: Get out the water hoses and watering cans, it’s time to make it rain. Both indoor and outdoor plants require more water as the degrees increase. Trees planted in the fall or winter will need watering for their first year to establish themselves. Try to establish a standard routine. Maybe it’s a meditative watering at the beginning of the day. Maybe you and your child can water together every Wednesday and Sunday. Maybe you’ll do like me and stroll across the yard at 6 p.m., beer in one hand, hose in the other. Don’t water every green shoot every day. If you drown your plants frequently, try dividing your garden into quarters and focus on watering a quarter a day.

Weeding: May turns the sweet, harmless spring weeds into the hellish, ubiquitous, and easy-to-revive summer weeds. Spring herbs like deadnettle provide flowers for pollinators, and easy-to-grow chickweed and watercress are great treats for my chickens. Summer weeds, like Bermuda grass and crabgrass, require effort to keep them in check. Pull out what you can, where you can. Add barriers like cardboard to mulch to slow their growth. Try shading areas by planting hardier varieties that can outperform these weeds. This is a good month to fight poison ivy as well. The vines are still quite young but big enough to see and have not set fruit yet. I usually wait until it rains, put on plastic gloves and an old raincoat, and draw on as much poison ivy as I can fit in a couple of garbage bags. For me, weeding is not a zero-sum game; It’s all about slowly reducing the footprint of these invaders.

Check for ticks: check dogs, cats, children and adults. Ticks often ride deer into the neighborhood, so you don’t need to trek through the backcountry to find the parasite. Deer ticks (black or tan and black) can transmit Lyme disease, and solitary star ticks (dark with a small white dot) carry heartland virus. Wear long pants, spray ankles and shoes with bug spray, and check your body for little boogers trying to ride.

Garden Planning: May is a great month to plan what you want where, budget for upgrades, and gather plants for your eventual makeover. Garden planning can unfortunately go awry when there are no leaves on the trees – are you sure this spot gets eight hours of sunlight? You can save money by buying some accessories at the end of summer when prices tend to drop.

Support your hobby: vines such as cucumbers, indeterminate tomatoes, climbing beans, clematis or morning glory now need their trellis. Taking too much time to get your supports in place can result in some vegetables like cucumbers catching diseases or attracting pests from the soil. Spiking supports later in the season could also injure needed roots. Trellises for naturally growing plants help them produce more flowers and more fruit.

Start composting: Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful has lots of information about composting on the accgov.com website. The website has a trash can for purchase and plans for various DIY trash cans. Like gardening, composting is about gaining experience, making mistakes, and figuring out what works best for you. Late spring is a good time to start this project as with some care and attention you could have usable compost by fall.

About Rachael Garcia

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