Every year as May returns, Mother Nature gives us the return of sunny days and cool spring rains after a long Nebraska winter. And, this year it is a welcome return with our abnormally cool spring. May is also when many gardeners’ hearts seem to beat a bit faster because winter is gone and spring has returned. Whether it is the blooming of flowering trees, the patchwork color of fresh annuals being planted, or the start of the landscape planting, May offers plenty to remind us of the start of our landscape growing season.
Some parts of the year when I write articles or prepare comments for our radio shows I’m challenged about what to discuss but that is definitely not May. May is usually such a perfect time to accomplish so many tasks in our landscapes that the difficulty in May is deciding what not to talk about.
As I write this article Mothers Day is approaching and for many when we talk about Mothers Day we also talk about planting our Annuals. Over the years many gardeners have been taught to wait to plant their annuals until Mother’s Day. This way they know they are typically safe from the last chances of frost in eastern Nebraska. Even though this spring has been much slower than normal to warm, Mother Nature has finally turned the weather warm and it is now safe to plant your tender annuals. Whether you are planting annuals in a landscape bed, placing a hanging basket by the front door, or planting your pots on the patio, go ahead and get planting all of the beautifully colored annuals for their interest all summer long.
Now, I don’t know about you but store bought vegetables just don’t have the same flavor and taste as those from our backyard gardens. Warm season vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, corn, etc. can now be planted safely. And if you haven’t already, get your cool season vegetables planted quickly such as Broccoli, Snap Peas, Cauliflower, Lettuce, etc. They will grow better in cooler weather versus the heat of summer so the sooner they are planted, the better crop you will receive. Also remember that amending your gardens each year by adding compost, or some peat moss and manure then tilling in well before planting will give you better yields from your garden. And we recommend applying a light coating of mulch around your vegetables to help hold moisture in and to help fight those pesky weeds in the garden.
Once your annuals and vegetables are planted consider adding perennials, shrubs and trees to your landscape. Planting now will give your new additions some time to settle into place before the full stresses of summer arrive. Daylilies to Iris, Lilacs to Viburnum, Lindens to Maples – May is a perfect time to plant your landscape. Make sure to plant interest for all seasons of the year versus just what is blooming now. And if you aren’t quite sure what to plant consider crafting a plan with a landscape designer. Experienced designers – like our team at Campbell’s – can offer recommendations in planting the right plants, in the right locations, that have color and interest as much as possible through the year. Let the experience of an expert make your planting and growing easier with a plan.
Now before you think May is all fun and sunny weather don’t forget to deal with weeds and insects. Pre-emergents like Preen can cut your weeding immensely and should be applied before new mulch is applied to your landscape beds. If you didn’t know this or forgot to apply, then apply it right over your mulch as soon as possible then water it in well for best results. Also be ready to spray a bit of Round Up on those weeds the pre-emergent doesn’t control in your landscape beds. And, keep your eyes open so you are prepared to apply controls for infestations of Pine Sawfly, Red Spider or any of the other pesky insects preparing to attack your plants.
One final note for those of you near Lincoln who plant vegetable gardens. As you plant your garden, please consider planting an additional vegetable plant or two and donate the extra crop to the “Grow and Share” program between Campbell’s and the Lincoln Food Bank. Beginning sometime in late June to early July anyone can drop off extra non-cooled produce in paper sacks Mondays and Tuesdays to either of our garden centers through the summer and it will be donated to the Lincoln Food Bank.
Overall, do try to enjoy some of the great Nebraska weather we have in May, add some color and interest to your landscape through new plantings, and keep the Grow and Share program in your mind if you are close to Lincoln. May always seems to be such a great month in Nebraska, How can you go wrong?
Andy Campbell is manager of Campbell’s Nurseries Landscape Department. A Lancaster County Farm Bureau Member, Campbell’s, a family owned Nebraska business since 1912, offers assistance for all your landscaping and gardening needs at either of their two Lincoln garden centers or through their landscape design office. www.campbellsnursery.com or on Facebook at Facebook.com/CampbellsNursery