May Gardening Calendar

Let’s hope that all those April showers do, indeed, bring us abundant May flowers!

No one is certain about what the weather is going to do.  It’s gorgeous right not and all this week, but you never know.  I still say err on the side of caution, and don’t go crazy planting things until after Mother’s Day, when the likelihood of frost is very, very slim.

Be that as it may, there is still a lot to do because you should already have some cooler crops in the ground, and some things are blooming in everyone’s gardens. Spring is here.

Prepare your irrigation system for coming season. 

If you want some assistance with this, any local landscape company should be able to help.  If you would like some DIY tips, fly me an email at

Pay attention to soil temperature.

This will help you know when to plant your veggies.  Your soil should be consistently above 70°F to plant the favorites:  tomatoes, squash, melons, and peppers.

I’m hearing from more than a few folks that  they have codling moths in their apple trees. 

If you’re not sure if you have them, there are pheromone traps you can place to determine if your trees have this issue.  If you find codling moths in your traps, get in touch with the Master Gardeners in either Medford or Grants Pass.  They can advise you on the least invasive methods of controlling these pests.

Plus, super cool people.

Get your wasp traps in place. Many of us are already seeing a lot of wasp activity. They were bad last year; get a leg up on them this year.

When was the last time you fed your azaleas and rhodies? 

If established and healthy, these plants’ nutrient needs will be minimal. If it’s been a while since you fed them – at least a year – give them a good organic acid-type fertilizer. Or a good organic fertilizer and a mulch of pine needles.  Remove spent blossoms.

Adding to or changing things up in the rose garden? 

When choosing new roses, consider plants labeled for resistance to diseases.

You’ll want to fertilize right now and get a grip on things like powdery mildew or black spot with a baking soda/water/Ivory soap solution, sprayed on your roses. Please consider a good organic fertilizer as an alternative to salt based and chemical fertilizers.  Also, step away from the systemic chemical pest control options. 

Plant dahlias and glads around the middle of the month.  Some of the local nurseries have some glorious late spring bulb offerings.

Plant chrysanthemums for fall color.

Plant these vegetables:
Around mid-month: transplant tomato and pepper seedlings, snap and lima beans, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupes, slicing and pickling cucumbers, dill, eggplant, kale, peppers, pumpkins, summer and winter squash, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and watermelon.

Handle your weeds while they are small and actively growing with light cultivation. White vinegar is also very good for weed control. Spray it on straight out of the bottle with a garden sprayer, being mindful of where you spray so as not to damage other plants.

Forget about all the crazy mole and gopher control things you hear about.  Trap them as new mounds appear. And get a big cat.

Spittle bugs will start appearing on your plants as foam balls on the stems. In most cases, they don’t require management. I think they’re disgusting.  Wash them off with water or use insecticidal soap as a contact spray.

May is the season of a lot of pests making their first appearances of the year. 

Cabbage worms in cabbage and cauliflower, cucumber beetle in beans and lettuce, root maggot and cut worms in radishes. Control can involve hand removal, placing barrier screen over newly planted rows, or spraying with insecticidal soap.

I also like 1/8 cup of lemon juice, ¼ tsp of tabasco, a squirt of peppermint Dr. Bronner’s soap in a gallon of water.  Spray it around in the later part of the day, when the sun won’t be directly on your plants.

We sometimes see itty bitty holes in foliage and shiny, black beetles on tomato, beets, radishes, and potato.  Flea beetles.  Destructive creatures.  We used to treat this with poison, then neem oil.  Now, Bt-s is the hot ticket for these pests.  Talk to Ed at Redwood Nursery or the folks at the ladybug store in Phoenix.

Avoid an invasion of root maggots when planting your brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, collards and kale), by covering with light weight row covers.

Keep slugs and snails at bay with bait or traps and by keeping the areas near your garden plots clean. And there is always the ever-popular option of pie plates full of cheap beer.

If you grow blueberry, raspberry, strawberry and other plants that produce soft fruits and berries, keep an eye out for Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD). To learn how to watch for and manage SWD flies and larval infestations in berry patches and fruit grows, visit

When it comes to pest control, we have a lot more options than we used to.

  Once you’ve figured out what the issue is, choose the least toxic choice for control. The least-toxic choices are predatory insects, insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, botanical insecticides and organic and synthetic pesticides.

Now that you’ve got an idea what awaits you at this time of the year in your Rogue Valley garden, the only thing left to do is get out there and grow something!


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