May Garden Highlights and Tasks

Tulips in Joy Cullens Garden

Northumberland Master Gardeners would like to share what they like best about their May Gardens and some of the tasks that they are planning to accomplish.

Tanya Crowell tells us that the big activity in her garden this spring is planting some small trees. She is hoping to put in amelenchier and cercis canadensis “hearts of gold”.  It is a redbud whose leaves open yellow before becoming green in summer. Of course Tanya loves its magenta blooms and heart shaped leaves. Tanya is also busy dividing perennials, and designing and planting several pots of annuals for her patio.

Joy Cullen says that it is difficult to pick just one best thing but tulips in May are a welcome sight. Unfortunately, deer like tulips too. This year she sprayed them with Bobbex as soon as they showed through the ground. She gave them another spray as they got larger. So far, no deer have shown up for a tulip buffet. Joy also plants tulips in pots in the fall, stores them in her garage (never freezes) and brings them out in spring as days warm up.

Joy starts tulip bulbs in pots and stores them in her garage all winter, ready to bring out in May

Margot Cox is busy transplanting, cleaning up, and anticipating new plants she has ordered.  Margot is looking for yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia punctata) which she has so far been unable to find through garden centres.  A note of caution to be wary of yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris) which tends to be invasive in some areas. It can outcompete native species when introduced along lake front, river’s edge or wet woods. Always purchase wild flowers from a nursery. Do not transplant from wild habitat.

Margot’s plant markers blew down over the winter so she is planning to make a garden map of her beds for future reference. Margot is also looking forward to seeing the Ito peonies and new irises she planted last fall bloom.

Christa Bisanz looks forward to the middle of May, depending how warm it has been, when her asparagus appears. Asparagus continues to produce into June, about eight weeks of cutting.  Christa sells her asparagus to a small group of elite buyers, who claim that hers is the “best in town”!
Next on Christa’s anticipation list is rhubarb.  Like the asparagus she has lots.
Lucky for Christa, she claims to love both asparagus and rhubarb.  Their taste in early spring is unbelievably refreshing and so welcoming after the winter months.

May is the time to start pulling rhubarb


Lori Groves reports that her favourite gardening activity in May is planting most of her vegetable garden.  Lori does a lot of direct seeding in raised beds, following the principles of square foot gardening and companion planting, with some vertical gardening too. Each year she rotates the crops and plant something she has never tried before.  This year, new additions will include brussels sprouts, Lemon Balm, Moonshine (white) pumpkins and Chioggia beets. Lori likes to add some rustic whimsy as part of the process, with upcycled materials that become artistic and practical features of the veggie patch.

I also look forward to planting my raised vegetable beds. I have already planted a variety of lettuces, radish, swiss chard, carrots, beets, potatoes and peas. Each day I look  for the sprouts to appear. My zucchini, cucumber, and various squashes have been started in my poly green house. They have sprouted and are doing well. These will be transplanted into their beds in mid May. I leave the starting of tomato and pepper plants to the expert Suzi Gabany “The Tomato Lady” of Heritage Gardens. Suzi starts plants for 100+ varieties of heirloom tomatoes and peppers. I look forward to getting Suzi’s plants again in mid May and getting them planted in late May. Find Suzi’s list of tomatoes and pepper on her facebook page “Heritage Tomatoes” 


This entry was posted in Advice, Seasonal Tasks. Bookmark the permalink.