Here are some pics of what was blooming in my Calgary garden last May. For more details, click here.
I am almost finished my April to do list, but not quite thanks to the recent cold weather! I got the pruning done, a little tidying in the greenhouse (this is going to be ongoing all summer, I think), just finished cutting down all last year's perennials, and got 1 out of 3 rain barrels set up. I still need to finish sweeping the patios and setting up the other 2 rain barrels. Below is the rest of my May to do list, in order of priority.
May 2009 gardening to do list
Finish cleaning up the winter mulch (leaves, in my case). Put in compost.
On warm days (i.e. starting tomorrow), begin hardening off new plants by putting them outside in a sheltered, shady area. Gradually put them in more sunshine and eventually leave them out all night if frost is not predicted.
Spring lawn care: Have the lawn aerated (if it is high-traffic and/or compacted, this is essential for a nice lawn.) Top dress with a thin layer of compost, or add corn gluten meal for a slow-release fertilizer and to prevent the germination of weed seeds (note- don't add corn gluten meal if you are over-seeding your lawn - it prevents the germination of all seeds!)
Plant vegetable seeds outside according to schedule (see when to plant vegetable seeds in Calgary.)
Move perennials. I've got a few things I'd like to move this year and if possible I like to do all my re-arranging and planting of new perennials in May. The days are still relatively cool so the plants don't get too stressed, and then in June, our rainiest month, they get plenty of water to get established again before the heat of summer. Closer to the end of the month, I'll be removing the carpet from the front lawn (I'm trying to smother the grass) and starting to plant the rest of my front "welcome garden". If I get this done by the end of May I will be surprised, but a good start will make me happy.
I know this doesn't sound fun, but May is the time to get rid of perennial weeds in the garden. Grass, dandelions, etc. are already growing and are easy to to see and get rid of while the other plants are still small. At the very least, get in the habit of pulling the tops off weeds (both annual and perennial) before they go to seed so at least they don't make more. I can't emphasize this enough if you want a low-maintenance garden - don't let the weeds set seed!
Plant out annuals. I know the conventional wisdom is to wait until our average last frost date, May 24. But that is an average! That means about half the time the last frost date will be earlier! I like to get the most of my annuals by planting before May 24 - they're mostly in pots anyway so they are easy to move or cover if frost threatens. Whatever happens, I have at least obtained all the plants I want before May long week-end so I can avoid the rush. I also like frost-tolerant annuals such as pansies and snapdragons because they can be put in the garden several weeks before the last frost date.
Properly hang trellises on the side of the house. This will be hubby's job! More on how to do that when we get around to it...
When they have thawed, turn over the compost in the bins. I have two very full ones in the back corner of my yard, so I'm going to take the top, unfinished stuff out, dig out the compost in the bottom to spread around the garden, and put the unfinished stuff back in one bin. I didn't touch the bins at all last year (except to add more compostable material) so I should have a lot of compost to go around. Yay for free, homemade compost!
My other major project for this month is going to be getting ready to replace our rotten wood retaining wall. We decided to do this ourselves. I need to move all the soil behind it to a temporary spot this month, then one week-end in early June we're packing the kids off to the grandparents' and building a new concrete block retaining wall. I don't love concrete blocks but stone is not within range of our budget and skill level. But I think concrete will look nice enough with some creeping junipers eventually spilling over the sides.
Well, between this list plus some consulting, I am going to be busy this month!! What are you doing in your garden?