May Gardening To-Dos
May is typically Austin’s rainiest month and it’s not unusual for temperatures to start feeling more like summer than spring. Enjoy it before the heat and humidity settle in for good. See below for other things that should be on your May gardening to-dos.
Things to Do in the Garden for May
Fertilize trees and blooming shrubs once their flowers have faded. Follow the soil test recommendations.
Use the cycle-and-soak method on your lawn. Water other plants deeply and as infrequently as you can to encourage deep roots in preparation for stricter water restrictions.
Get the last of the bedding plants in the ground right at the first of the month so roots can become established before the heat arrives. Switch out container plants to warm season annuals that can take the heat.
Apply a compost layer and then mulch to suppress weeds and retain moisture. Consider growing a summer cover crop like cow peas or vetch in areas that you can later cut and drop into place for mulch.
Mow as needed and leave clippings on the lawn to maintain soil organic matter.
DISEASES/PESTS TO LOOK FOR
Hornworms will be more prevalent, especially in the vegetable garden. Pick them off plants when you see them and feed them to the birds. Blackspot and other fungal diseases will be prevalent due to the rain. Apply fungicides according to label directions between periods of rain. Monitor vegetable garden for squash vine borers, cabbage loopers, corn earworms, and beetles. Rather than spraying, bag and destroy infested plants since they are nearing the end of their harvesting season.
Keep up with weeding and don’t let them produce seed. Make yourself a weed wiper to spot treat. Since most weeds are annuals, they will go dormant in the coming heat and give you a respite. Prune the last of the spring blooming trees and shrubs after blooms fade. Apply fertilizer according to soil test recommendations. Install drip irrigation systems in ornamental and vegetable beds in preparation for summer. Deadhead flowers.
IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
If you’ve planted potatoes, harvest a few new potatoes from the perimeter of the potato plant by carefully pulling back the soil without disturbing the plant. Watch for squash vine borer eggs at the base of stems. Harvest onions when the tops fall over, then let them dry for a week before storing. Plant heat-loving plants like sweet potatoes, Malabar spinach, okra, and Southern peas. Eggplant and pepper transplants can still be planted early this month. See the full Vegetable Garden Planting Guide and Vegetable Varieties for Central Texas.See the full Vegetable Garden Planting Guide (en español) and Vegetable Varieties for Central Texas.
As a contributor to Central Texas Gardener (CTG), Daphne Richards, County Extension Agent-Horticulture, answers questions and shares knowledge on new and tried & true plants for Central Texas. Check out some of our favorites for May!
Galileo, Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, mathematician, and philosopher wrote, “The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.” This handy reference will help you enjoy whatever is ripening in your patch of the universe and serve as a guide for what things to do in the garden each month: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December.