Keep an eye out for aphids and other insects on roses. Spray if necessary. Begin spraying for black spot disease at least twice a month. Removing and replacing mulch under roses♦ will cut down significantly on black spot disease.
♦ Red and silver maples, willows, poplars, and elms can clog septic lines with their roots. Don’t plant near water/sewer lines.
If you are building a home on a wooded lot, save young, vigorous trees. They will adapt to changes in their environment better than older trees. Trees that once grew in the shade and are suddenly exposed to increased sunlight, broader temperature changes, and drying winds may not survive.
Lightly side dress perennials, including spring bulbs, with a 5-10 -10 or 10-10-10 fertilizer, being careful to avoid the center or crown of the plant.
♦ Prune off sprouts from the base of crape myrtles.
♦ ♦ Check the leaves on Azaleas and Camellias for leaf galls. They are white to green growths. Prune out the galls and dispose of in the trash.
Protect developing strawberries♦ from birds with spun bonded row covers. Netting can trap and kill beneficial snakes and birds.
♦ Technically, berries are a fruit that are soft throughout, such as blueberries. The raspberry is not a true berry, but a fruit, made of many small sections, each with a seed or pit. Fruits with fleshy material surrounding a hard seed are called drupes. A raspberry is not a berry but is a cluster of small drupes or drupelets.
♦ Thin peaches 4-6” apart for large, high-quality fruit.
♦ If spraying fruit trees near a vegetable garden, cover vegetables with a sheet of plastic to protect them.
♦ Place a thick layer of newspaper under tomatoes to cut back on leaf diseases. Cover with mulch. This mulching practice helps prevent fungus spores from splashing on leaves. Remove and dispose of at the end of the season.
♦ To ensure pollination of sweet corn, plant several rows together in a block, rather than In one long row. Side-dress with 3 tbsp of 10-10-10 per 10 feet of a row when 12-18” high.
When thinning beans, watch for “snake heads,” seedlings that have lost one or both of their cotyledons and produce poor, weak sprouts. Also, watch for “bald heads,” seedlings that have the growth point damaged so severely that they cannot develop. Both types of seedlings will be weak and delayed in growth. Thin out the damaged seedlings.
OTHER GARDENING TIPS FOR MAY
♦ Mark the handle of your spade/hoe in inches for a handy measuring device for row width and planting distances. Paint or tape the measurements on the handle, and apply varnish to make the marks last longer.
♦ Trap earwigs and sow bugs with rolled-up newspapers moistened with water. Insects will hide in the paper by day. Gather the traps frequently and dispose of them in the trash.
♦ When you see ants crawling on garden plants, look for aphids. Some ant species protect aphids, moving them from plant to plant and even taking them into the anthill for overnight safety. The ants do this to ensure a supply of honeydew, a sugary water substance secreted by aphids, on which ants feed.
♦ A garden use for plastic milk jugs: seep irrigation. Punch holes in the sides of a jug about 2” apart. Bury the jug leaving the neck protruding from the soil. Fill the jug with water (solutions of liquid fertilizer may be added to water and feed at the same time) and screw on the cap. The water will seep out, providing slow, deep irrigation for plants.
♦ Trellis and stake downwind from the prevailing winds, so plants lean against the supports when the wind blows.
♦ Don’t be too anxious to move your houseplants outdoors. A slight chill can knock the leaves off tender plants.
♦ Replace bulbs on plant lights yearly. They gradually lose their strength, causing plants to stretch and stop blooming.
♦ Moles are tunneling insect eaters and particularly attracted to grubs. When bulbs are missing, or shrubs have root damage, look for voles or field mice to be the culprits. These rodents often use mole tunnels as their runs.