To those who live in other regions, May seems very late for the coming of spring and it is. But May in the North is a matchless month. The weather is ideal and nature is in a bewitching renaissance. This has a tantalizing effect upon the gardener who has waited so long to get started again.
There is practically nothing in the line of gardening, lawn making and landscaping that cannot be done now. Even the planting of tulips, hyacinths, hardy narcissus and other spring flowering bulbs can be done now. This will be on a very limited scale, of course, using the potted bulbs that have been in cold storage producing roots without tops during the winter.
These bulbs, offered by some nurseries and florists, appeal to those who failed to get bulbs in the ground last fall and who will not be happy without some of them in the flower garden this spring.
The preparation of garden beds is in progress early in May if it was not done in April. In some parts of the North spring comes very late, making it necessary to postpone preparations. All dormant, woody plants, trees, shrubs and vines can and should be planted this month. Evergreens, too. can be planted up to the time they start to grow which is about mid-May for all varieties. It is especially desirable to get spruces, firs and pines planted before last years buds start to sprout. Risk of injury is great after they start to grow. The planting season for dormant deciduous trees and shrubs extends over a much longer period of time, through all of May and into June.
In the southern part of our area seeds of garden flowers may be sown early in May but safe dates are later as you go northward. A late frost will nullify any advantages expected from seeds sown too early. Seedling plants (commercially referred to as transplants”) may be set out when it is safe to sow flowers of the south seeds. Window box plants, bedding plants, geraniums, callas, caladiums and tuberous begonias should not be put outdoors , until the last week of May, and later in the extreme north.
Cutworms no longer are the dreaded destroyers of seedlings that they were in the past. Using an organic product like Neem oil as an insecticide on the ground right after preparing the soil for seeding or planting will control this common pest. Postpone seeding or planting a day or two after applying the insecticide. Repeated dusting will be necessary after a good rain and while the plants are very young and susceptible to attack.
An important point in the care of tulips during the blooming season is to remove the flowers as soon as they have faded before the petals shatter and fall to the ground. This is done for several reasons; one is because a spent bloom is unattractive. Another is because petals that fall to the ground may be a source of disease. Finally, the plants should not be permitted to go to seed because seed production uses food which otherwise could be stored in the bulb where it is needed for continued life and future flower production.