May Garden Checklist
In this week’s article I want to mention things gardeners need to be considering for May. The following is a garden checklist:
- Remember to feed hummingbirds with 1 part sugar and 3 or 4 parts water. There is no need in using red food coloring. Replace sugar water mix at least once a week if it is not emptied sooner.
- As early vegetables bolt, go ahead and harvest what you have, cutting off the seed stalk will not encourage new growth. Broccoli heads may not be as large, but harvest while they are full and closed. Yellow blooms means the quality is going way down.
- To ensure that you will have the largest onions in the neighborhood, fertilize weekly using a liquid nitrogen fertilizer or 34-0-0 fertilizer (1/3 lb. per 100 ft.). Onions need a constant level of nitrogen to perform their best.
- Watch for caterpillars on cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and ornamentals and take control measures early by using Bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel, Javelin and other trade names). Larger more mature caterpillars are harder to control and you may have to use Sevin.
- Warm season vegetables – tomatoes, pepper, squash, okra and corn can be planted. As you plant, broadcast a complete fertilizer in the soil, then repeat in about 6 weeks. Mulch and water as needed. Watch for insects, diseases and weeds.
- To prevent early blight on tomatoes, start spraying with chlorothalonil or mancozeb when first bloom clusters are noticed. This disease causing fungus can stay in the soil for several years. Mulching will help some, which prevents the splashing of soil onto the lower leaves. Planting tomatoes in a new spot will help, but contaminating your new garden site can happen so quickly. This disease is transferred to a new garden by wind-blown spores, contaminated tools and shoes, buying diseased plants, or chewing insects.
- Keep a clean garden. Mulch around plants with 3-4 inches of mulch to help maintain moisture and discourage weeds. Organic mulches also break down slowly, releasing nutrients into the soil. Mulch also cuts down on soil borne diseases such as tomato blight.
- Herb gardens are an easy way to have an ample supply of fresh herbs for cooking. Most nurseries carry herb plants. Many are perennials and some are evergreen and can be used in the landscape as well as to eat. Rosemary is a semi-shrub and thyme makes an attractive evergreen groundcover in full sun. Be careful with pesticides around herbs – remember you are going to eat them!
- Prune spring flowering shrubs as soon as the flowers fade. If you prune in the fall or winter, you will remove next season’s flower buds.
- Check azaleas for lacebugs. This small sucking insect prefers to feed on azaleas or pyracantha but can spill over onto any kind of adjacent plants. The leaves of infested plants are yellowed and stippled on top. Black deposits from the lacebug are left on the underside of the leaves. To control, apply acephate, imidacloprid, bifenthrin, or permethrin according to label directions.
- Fertilize warm-season lawns – zoysia and bermuda – as soon as they are totally greened up. Use a high nitrogen fertilizer. Most of the weeds that have been blooming are winter weeds and should be on their way out. Start watching for summer weeds – crabgrass and nutgrass – and catch them as they emerge and try to stop their spread.
- Spring flowering bulb foliage needs to remain as long as possible (minimum of 6-8 weeks after blooming). Foliage can be removed at first signs of yellowing. As foliage begins to yellow it’s a good time to dig and divide clumps of overcrowded or unwanted bulbs while foliage is still visible.
- Dogwood, flowering plum, ornamental cherry, crabapple and related plants are prone to borers. Borers usually enter the trunks of these trees at soil line and can cause death in one or two seasons. A preventative control for borers is an application of insecticide applied to the trunk of trees in early May and repeated at six week intervals 2-3 times. Permethrin or bifenthrin work well in protecting these valuable ornamental specimen trees. Also, applying a 2-3 inch mulch around these ornamentals helps prevent damage to the trunk from lawnmowers and string line trimmers which helps prevent borers too.
- Houseplants can safely be moved outside if you haven’t already done so. Expose plants to sunlight gradually.
- When pansies and violas start to fade, replace them with summer annuals for summer color. There are lots of excellent annuals to choose from. Some to consider are the penta which likes the sun, attracts hummingbirds and butterflies and comes in pink, red, white and purple and Dragonwing Begonia is another one for partial shade.
For more information on gardening, contact the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Baxter County Extension office at 425-2335.
By Brad Runsick
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Brad Runsick
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
3 East 9th St. Mountain Home AR 72653
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.