HORTICULTURE — Garden Guide: Things to Do This Month


In May, set out marigold, petunia, ageratum and begonia transplants. All are good border plants.

Cabbage loopers and imported cabbage worms are green caterpillars. They eat large holes in the leaves of plants in the cabbage family. For control, caterpillars can be picked off by hand or sprayed with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a natural, non-toxic preparation available by various trade names.

To grow annuals in containers on the patio, use a light weight soil mixture. Keep the plants well watered, because the soil dries out fast. Apply a water soluble fertilizer according to package directions every two weeks.

Lawns maintained at the correct height are less likely to have disease and weed infestation. Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue should be mowed at approximately three inches in height. Mow frequently, removing no more than one third of the blade at each cutting.

Watering roses with soaker hoses or drip irrigation will reduce the spread of black spot disease.

Plant ground covers under shade trees that do not allow enough sunlight to grow grass. Vinca minor or English ivy are ground cover plants that grow well in shade.

Plan a landscaping project on paper first. Do not over plant. Be sure you know the mature size of each plant and allow for growth.

Harvest rhubarb by cutting or by grasping the stalk and pulling up gently to one side.

Grass clippings can be used as a mulch in flower beds and vegetable gardens if allowed to dry well before use. Never use clippings from a lawn that has been treated with a herbicide.

Mulch around newly planted trees and shrubs. This practice reduces weeds, controls fluctuations in soil temperature, retains moisture, prevents damage from lawn mowers and looks attractive.

When you visit botanical gardens and arboretums, take your camera and notepad with you. Plan now for changes you will make in your landscape.

Grow your own dried flowers. Raise statice, globe amaranth, straw flowers and other everlastings to provide flowers for this year’s arrangements.

In May have successive plantings of beans and sweet corn to extend the harvest season in the vegetable garden.

For maximum landscape interest in a small, vertical space, try annual vines. They can disguise ugly walls and fences. When trellised, they can create shade and privacy while hiding undesirable views. Try morning glory, nasturtium vine and scarlet runner bean.

Newly transplanted vegetable plants should be protected from cutworms with collars. Cut strips of cardboard two inches wide by eight inches long, staple them into circles and place them around the plants. Press the collar about one inch into the soil. These collars will fence out the cutworms and protect the stems of the vegetable plants.

Stay out of the garden when the vegetable plant leaves are wet. Walking through a wet garden spreads disease from one plant to another.

Four or five layers of newspaper will serve as an effective mulch in the garden. Cover it with grass clippings or straw to prevent it from blowing away.

Put tools away at the end of the day. Clean them and hang them up so they are ready to use and easy to find when you need them.