May Gardening Tips

  • Love radishes but hate the heat that builds up in them as the spring season grows? Try planting a Daikon-type radish, which remains crisp and mild even as the summer starts to simmer.
  • When planting tomato transplants, take advantage of the warm soil close to the surface (which induces root growth) by planting the tomatoes parallel to the ground in trenches rather than in deep holes. For an even stronger root system, bury all but the upper three inches of each plant.
  • Summer bulbs like acidanthera, caladiums, cannas, dahlias, and gladiolus can be planted now.
  • It’s also vine time. Fast-growing annual eye-catchers, like climbing spinach, hyacintgh bean, moonflower, morning glory, and black-eyed Susan vines not only add vertical interest to a garden, but also provide a quick, all-natural screen.
  • For best production from water lilies and lotus in the water garden, fertilize them about every three weeks. Marginals will benefit from added nutrients every five to six weeks.
  • If you have the constant urge to fertilize your plants, add nutrients at a controlled, safe rate by watering with manure tea or diluted fish emulsion once a month.
  • With all of the active spring growth on woody ornamentals, look for dead or diseased limbs that should be pruned.
  • Discourage slugs and other soft-bodied invaders by using light rings of ash from last winter’s wood fires. Spreading the ash around tender plants will keep these pests away.
  • Water is critical in the vegetable patch, but it is especially important to keep onions and cucumbers from drying out. If they aren’t watered regularly, onions will not mature to their proper size, and cukes will develop a bitter taste.

For 20 years, L.A. Jackson contributed gardening stories and tips to Our State magazine. These tips are taken from the Tar Heel Gardening archives, and first appeared in the March 2003 and April 2006 issue of Our State.

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