What to Do in the Garden in May by Zone

What to Do in the Garden in May by Zone
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What to Do in the Garden in May by Zone

How to Get the Most Out of Your Fruit Tree

Most gardeners in the U.S. can officially start gardening in May. We’ve got all of the tasks that you need to tackle this month to get your flower beds in shape and your gardens going strong. Keep reading to learn what you should be doing in the garden in May.

Providing Support

Many vegetable plants will need some additional support. Vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers will produce so much fruit that they will become top heavy. Without support, these plants can topple over, break or become less productive.

Vining plants, like cucumbers, peas, or beans, can be trained to grow up a trellis. This makes them much easier to manage and harvest because they will be at eye level instead of on the ground. Plants that grow up a trellis are more productive because they can get more airflow and sunlight. There’s also less competition from weeds when they grow up instead of on the ground. Pests are also less of an issue when your vining plants grow up. Many pests lay their eggs in the ground around your plants, so trellising them will keep more of the plant off of the ground, making it more difficult for pests to get on them.

A little gardening tip, when you plant tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant into the ground, go ahead and put a cage or support on them. It’s much easier to put a cage around them when they are smaller. A smaller plant is easier to fit into the cage than a large plant. By the time your tomato, pepper, or eggplant really needs support, it’s difficult to fit them into a cage without breaking stems off of these plants.

What to Do in the Garden in May Based on Your Zone

Zones 3-4

Winter in this zone can feel like an eternity. Thankfully, the ground will likely thaw completely by the end of this month and the threat of frosts will diminish greatly. If you have cool-season crops planted, you’ll want to keep an eye on them. Any warm days that you may have (60 degrees Fahrenheit or above) can cause cool season veggies to bolt. If you have a warm day or two in the forecast, you can cool these crops off with some overhead watering. As your cool season crops mature, harvest them to make way for your summer vegetables.

Your indoor started veggies can be planted into the garden at the end of the month. Plant your seed potatoes and hardier warm season vegetables as the threat of frost passes. It’s a good idea to have row covers on hand just in case you have a late-season cold snap.

Make sure that your garden and flower beds are mulched and that you’ve added plenty of compost to them. Heavy mulch will help to keep the ground warm in case of a late frost. The compost will help to feed your crops all season long.

You can also start to plant herbs and flowers this month. Parsley, basil, cilantro and dill can be planted in the herb garden. Phlox, pincushion flowers, sweet peas and snapdragons are all early-blooming flowers that will help add some color to your emerging flowerbeds.

Zone 5

Now’s the time to start harvesting any cool season crops that you have planted. As temperatures rise above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll run into your cool season crops trying to bolt. It’s best to have those harvested once the temperatures remain above 60 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent bolting issues. Even a day or two of warm temperatures can cause bolting. As soon as those cool season crops are ready, harvest them to make way for your summer vegetables.

You may have already planted early season tomatoes, but this month you can plant the rest of your summer garden. Sweet potatoes, melons, squash, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, and other warm season vegetables can be planted this month.

Your flower beds can also be planted this month. You’ll notice that your perennials are emerging this month, so any pruning or dividing that didn’t get done this spring will need to wait.

Zone 6

Get any cool season crops out of the garden this month since your temperatures will start getting too warm for them. Any warm season vegetables that haven’t been planted yet can be put into the ground this month. Be sure to put tomato cages around any of your heavy-producing plants as you put them into the ground.

Seeds for okra, corn, beans, melon, and squash can be sown directly into the garden. These heat-loving crops will sprout quickly, so you’ll see seedlings emerge within several days of sowing those seeds. Birds love seeds from your garden since it’s an easy meal for them. Be sure to cover your seeds with dirt to hide them from birds. Providing a bird feeder away from your garden can also help discourage birds from plucking seeds out of your garden.

Plant any summer blooming plants or fall blooming bulbs. If you enjoy cut flowers, you can easily sow zinnia seeds. Most zinnia seeds will come up if you sprinkle them on the ground and water them. Other popular cut flowers to plant include sunflowers, cosmos, amaranth, sweet peas, and poppies.

Zones 7-8

These zones are in full gardening mode this month. If you haven’t yet, harvest your cool season crops this month and plant out your summer vegetables. This month, pests will start to emerge. Keep an eye out for tomato hornworms, squash bugs, and other pests. The best way to deal with pests is to handpick them as soon as you see them. Removing the pests that you see will help to break their life cycle and prevent future generations.

Weeds will also start to become more problematic this month. Pull weeds right after a heavy rain when the ground is softest. Weeds can choke out your plants, so keep them at a minimum for the most productive garden.

This is also the time to pay attention to any fruit trees that you have. For apples, pears, and peaches, you’ll want to thin your fruit so that they have ample growing space. Spray your fruit trees for any diseases or pests. Fertilize these plants well, especially as they are growing fruit.

Zones 9-10

May in Zones 9-10 is all about keeping on top of your garden. You likely have everything planted in your summer garden and flower beds. If not, it’s not too late to get plants into the ground. If you added compost earlier this year, you can continue to add it or fertilize your garden and flowerbeds as needed.

Keep on top of weeds and pests. They’re both out in full swing and will quickly take over your garden if given the chance. Remove any pests or weeds as you notice them to allow your garden to be as productive as possible.

Now that your flowerbed perennials are filling out, you can make note of any changes you want to make this fall or any plants that need to be pruned back next year. Make these notes in the From Seed to Spoon app or write them down in a garden journal to remind you about tasks to be done when the plants are dormant.

Adding mulch to your garden and flowerbeds will help to minimize weeds and keep moisture in the soil. In the next several weeks, the temperatures will really start to rise. This can lead to dry garden soil if your plants aren’t mulched. A deep mulch (at least 4” deep) can make a huge difference.

Zone 11

The temperatures will start to heat up this month, so be sure that your plants are getting plenty of water. Some crops will need to have some shade to escape the intense summer sun. Any warm season crops that haven’t been planted yet can still be put into the ground. You can also finish planting out your herb garden this month.

One of the best parts about living in Zone 11 is the fact that you can grow tropical plants and citrus trees. If you’re looking to add figs, citrus, grapes, or blueberries to your lineup, this is the month to get those plants into the ground. Plant them this month and keep them fertilized and well-watered.