Gardening in the Month of May is one of my favorite times of the year. There is so much to do, but there is so much possibility.
During the end of May the garden is alive with color, and you want to spend as much time as you can outside enjoying. Which is a good thing because there is plenty of work to be done. Besides pulling weeds, deadheading blooms is usually on everyone’s to do list.
Deadheading, the removal of spent blossoms with the aim of forcing a plant to rebloom, is our technique for tricking the plant into thinking it has failed in this reproductive process. By removing the blossom before it has had a chance to fully develop a fruit, the plant sends out regrowth hormones, produces a new bloom, and tries again. It also helps us to control plants spreading seeds to reseed. The Shasta and Chive are prolific reseeders, so even if you remove 3/4 of the spent blooms you will have new young shoots up before the end of the growing season.
Others need a little more care deadheading, especially repeat-blooming plants such as roses. Deadheading roses has multiple functions. Not only will it conserve plant energy and produce more blooms, it will also remove hiding places and food for insects which often become pests in our garden. It may even permit minor improvements in air circulation, thus reducing the potential for fungal diseases.
Generally when deadheading your roses all cuts are best made at an angle away from and slightly above the node (where the leaf bud grows from the stem) This is true with most roses but not all, if you have a rose that blooms with clusters, cut further down the stem.
As you are laying your mulch remember to keep iris rhizomes exposed (roots of iris). Unlike bulbs, which thrive deep underground, iris rhizomes need a bit of sun and air to dry them out. If they’re covered with soil or crowded by other plants, they’ll rot. So lightly mulch around your Iris. Don’t forget that Iris can not be composted, so throw spent blooms in the garbage or a brush pile.
Out in the vegetable garden we have been cutting and eating our lettuce, radishes and onions. There is nothing, I **MEAN** nothing better than home-grown lettuce. I highly recommend it!
I have also started pinching my indeterminate (vine type) tomato plants. You need to pinch and remove suckers that develop in the crotch joint of two branches. They won’t bear fruit and will take energy away from the rest of the plant. You also want to prune suckers out so the overall plant doesn’t get top-heavy and sun light and air can reach the entire plant.
Not all types of tomatoes need to be pruned. If you are growing determinate (bush type) tomatoes, you don’t want to prune. The reason for this is that determinate plants develop all of their fruit at one time, so if you prune, you’re sacrificing tomatoes for no reason.
I have also planted my second crop of green beans and cilantro. You want to plant a second crop of cilantro because your first crop will quickly go to seed (flowers will form) and once it happens the herb no longer has the same flavor.
I had a bit of a misstep with one of my beehives last week. I forgot to remove a sugar feeding bottle and they started to build comb with larvae around the bottle. I suited up and went out last Thursday night around 8:30 just before dark to remove it. I didn’t make sure that my suit was tucked into my shoes and two very angry ladies crawled up into my suit and stung me. I also got stung on each hand. About 30 minutes later I broke out into hives and was itching all over. My poor worried husband had a very irritable wife on his hands, but he was very sweet and worried about me and made me swallow a few Benadryl. He kept a close eye on me until the Benadryl took effect and I was snoring. Then he was over it! Keeping bees can be vexing.
The hens and roosters have been enjoying the meadow garden that I have growing. They love to walk in the tall grass-eating the seed heads and any bugs that they can find. Two of my roosters have been squabbling and Foghorn has a raw patch on his back from Houdini. Though don’t feel too sorry for Foghorn, he takes every available opportunity to catch Houdini’s girls alone, if you know what I mean.
Have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy the last few days of May.