Well, that was a cold April! I remember last April paddling across Kennedy Lake in a bikini, picnicking and swimming with my family. Not so this year with frosty mornings forcing the gardener to wait. April was a beautiful month with the sparkling of unfolding leaves and unpredictable fresh spring weather. Now the sun is setting farther to the north and light floods the evenings as days get longer, warmer and brighter. So pick up your trowel and let’s get busy!
What to do in May in the garden?
Plants are responding to the increasing temperatures and waking up for the year. Hopefully your windowsills inside are teetering with seedlings and you have started to harden them off by taking them on field trips to the outdoors on fair days, and then back to the warmth and safety of indoors. This toughens them up so that they can eventually survive the disturbance of transplanting and establish themselves in the deep compost home you have prepared for them.
Protect your plants! The Golden crowned sparrows have nibbled down my peas that were left unprotected. And imagine my heartbreak to find that slugs had marauded my poor delphiniums one rainy frog-filled night, defoliating every leaf, despite my effort to protect them.
Sometimes I get a little over-enthusiastic and start things too early. I moved half my cucumber starts into the greenhouse a few weeks ago (too early), and lost half of those to damp, cold soil. But it seems the tomato transplants are hanging on out there. The cucumber plants still inside on the windowsill are much happier than the ones I put out too early.
Plan for losses, it’s only natural, and share with others in your ecosystem. The birds are also eating insects you may not want around, and fertilizing the garden with their poop. Our slug friends are important decomposers in the garden ecosystem, though they like to treat themselves to tender flowers like delphinium and dahlia, and one of the kids’ pumpkin starts, as well as the rotting organics. The good news of May is that if you’re just getting started for the season, you’re right on time. May is a great time to start seeds of pretty much anything!
Grow what you like to eat. Add compost to your growing beds. I just layer it on top without digging. Easy! Building your garden in layers leaves the fungal mycelium in the ground undisturbed, and these support plants greatly. Earthworms love eating cardboard, it’s a useful mulch.
Gardening is art. There is no right and wrong way of doing it, everyone has their own expression, their own set of decisions that amount to their ever-evolving, living garden. It’s a joy to share what works with each other. We have a whole bright season ahead of us!