May starts out ugly and ends up gorgeous here in the interior of Alaska. It takes until about the 15th for the grass to green up and the leaves to burst open, but after that everything goes into fast forward. Within a week, the city and borough governments, businesses, and homeowners are putting out all but the most fragile of hanging baskets. The nurseries are flooded with customers on Memorial Day weekend, and the transplants start going out to their permanent homes in the garden. It must be the almost constant daylight that convinces us we can spend half the night gardening instead of sleeping!
Veggies to Watch. Direct-seed potatoes, arugula, beans, beets, Nabana cabbage, carrots, chard, dill, garlic bulbs, leaf lettuce, mesclun, onion sets, parsnips, peas, radishes, summer savory, spinach and turnips. California poppies, bachelor buttons, and nasturtium also flourish from seed.
Grandma's Garden Tips. If seeds are tiny, mix sand or a small amount of compost to the packet so when you sprinkle it along the furrow you'll have less clumping—which means less thinning later. Second, don't cover the seeds with compost or sand instead of soil. Watering, wind and sun can turn soil into a crust that seeds can't push through.
Transplanting Tips. Transplant leeks, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower during the last two weeks of the month.
Tempering Seedlings. No matter when I transplant, I have become religious about hardening off everything before it goes into the ground. Hardening off is garden-speak for gradually acclimating seedlings reared indoors (whether at your house or a commercial nursery) to the harsher realities of garden plot life.
Hanging Around. Plant your hanging baskets now. (Don't forget that hanging baskets also need to be hardened off before they are hung out for the season.) Don't forget to refurbish or repot over wintered fuchsias, roses and geraniums!