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Almanac: What to do in the Garden in May and June (2013)

May and June bring much delight to gardeners with the longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures to tackle various timely gardening chores.

Spring is a good time to set up your home compost systems. Compost is the end product of decomposed yard wastes such as fallen leaves, grass clippings, weeds, and plant based kitchen scraps. It returns organic matter back to the soil that adds nutrients to help plants grow healthy.

You can add rain barrels to collect rainwater, which will help reduce municipal or well water needs. To prevent mosquitos from laying eggs, use a barrel with a fine screen over the top or use commercially available floating mosquito controls.
Lawn Care: Cool -season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fescues are popular lawn grasses grown in New York State. They love cooler weather and during the spring months put on 60% of their growth.
Lawn mowing tips:
• Set your mower at 3 inches or its highest setting
• Mow frequently when the lawn is actively growing
• Do not use a bag or catcher; leave clippings on the lawn
• Use a sharp blade (blades should be sharpen at least once a year)

• Fertilize spring flowering bulbs (tulips, daffodils, crocus)
Late May or early June is a good time, after danger of a hard frost, to plant summer/fall flowering bulbs such as dahlias, cannas, begonias, gladioluses, and crocosmia.
• Gardeners usually start planting annual flowers around Memorial Day Weekend and into the beginning of June. Make sure the danger of frost is past. You may need to cover up plants if cold temperatures are predicted at night.
• Plan to add annuals to flower beds, companion vegetable gardens, and containers when temperatures are warm.

• Divide summer and fall blooming perennials that are outgrowing their spaces.
• Add spring blooming perennials to your garden beds such as Lenton rose, columbines, bleeding hearts, moss phlox, and primroses.
• Plan to bring color throughout the gardening months by adding a sequence of blooming perennial plants.

• Prune out dead rose canes to shape the plant and open up the interior canes for better air circulation.
• Check soil pH and adjust if necessary. Roses grow best in soil with a pH between 6.5 and 6.8
• Add organic matter such as well-rotted manure or compost. Phosphorus may be added at planting time to help produce good roots.
• Fertilizer may be applied during the growing season to encourage repeat of rose blooms.

• Start cucumber, melon and squash seeds indoors in early May.
• Early May is also a good time to transplant onion sets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce seedlings into the garden.
• Assemble a wire compost bin right in your vegetable garden. Place a layer of sticks at the bottom of the wire bin followed by a layer of straw to help air flow to speed up the decomposition process as weeds are added.

Trees & Shrubs:
• Prune out the dead wood.
• Adjust pH if woody plants are showing signs of nutrient deficiency.
• Fertilize young trees with slow-release fertilizer and water regularly and deeply.
• Prune spring-flowering shrubs like lilacs right after bloom time.

— Holly Wise, Extension Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County

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