May Chores & Tips for Sonoma Gardens

P1020996With the threat of frost long past and ample amounts of sunshine in the forecast, it’s no wonder May is considered one of the best months to be outside tending your garden in Sonoma County.

It’s also one of those months where garden chores can pile up in the blink of an eye. A few doses of rain and some warm sunshiny days and everything roars into life! Including the birds.

I know I can’t be the only one who needs a to-do list in order to function (aka keep my brain on track), so I’ve whipped up one for May detailing all the chores that will make for a happy, healthy, and abundant garden as the year grows on.

Without further ado, here’s the list to launch your May gardening efforts:

  •  Prune spring blooming trees and shrubs so they can focus on getting ready for next year’s blooms. Get ready to get a handle on those lilacs and camellias.
  • Continue to pull up those dratted weeds before they get too much of a grip on your garden. Waiting till after a rainy day makes this chore easier, but who knows when we’ll get another shower.
  • Deadheading is a year-round task. Rhododendrons and Azaleas are staples in Sonoma County with their brilliantly colored flowers and glossy green foliage. Be sure to keep deadheading throughout their season so they don’t waste energy forming seed.
  • Inspect those drip lines and irrigation systems! Chances are they’ve been off all winter, and with hot summer days on the horizon now’s the time to get things in working order (No one wants to be laboring–and cursing in my case–over a broken drip line or clogged tubing in 80° or 90° weather.).
  • While you’re at it, don’t forget to replace the batteries on your timers. Better safe than scrambling to revive a sad, wilted tomato plant who has bit the dust before its prime. Just think of all those tomatoes lost before they could make it to your mouth! Tragedy.
  • Continue to keep an eye on aphids, as they can ramp up in warm weather. The tender leaves and buds of roses and honeysuckle are particularly susceptible to this pest. I usually spray them off with a hose or use a soap mixture. Just be sure to do this in the morning so the plant doesn’t sit wet overnight.
  • Plant, plant, plant! It’s time to settle those seedlings into their permanent residences for spring and summer. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, peas, and beans should be moving into their new homes.
  • Feel free to direct sow herbs, carrots, lettuce, and peas/beans. The soil should be warm enough for them to germinate.
  • Now is also the tail end of when you should be getting your seasonal plantings in the ground (think regular garden plants and flowers). New plantings need regular water in order to get firmly established, and we’ve already had one heat wave. You might be better off waiting till fall, but that’s your call.
  • Harvest any veggies that are ready. Asparagus, rhubarb, and artichokes are all rearing their heads in my yard right now.
  • Thin fruit on your trees. Yes, this is scary and you will probably feel bad. No, it will not harm the tree. In return you’ll be rewarded with larger, fuller-flavored fruit. Yurm. This applies to stone fruits including plums, peaches, apricots, etc…
  • Last but not least, don’t forget to mulch! A healthy layer of mulch (1″-3″ thick) will help conserve water and maintain soil temperatures as the days get hotter. Just be sure to leave space between the plants’ trunks/stems in order to prevent disease.

Have I missed anything? If so, please drop me a line!

Happy Digging,



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