Monthly Garden Calendar for Pacific Coast South United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Anita Noone

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MAY

Gardeners who planted last fall now see the fruits of their labors. The slightly bruised and sad looking bush or twiggy tree you set out in October is full of vigor after the winter rains. All plant life surges with growth this time of year, except some natives. With the rains pretty much over for this season, natives are hunkering down for a semi-dormant period. The desert areas and inland valleys are heating up now, exacerbating the effects of the lack of rain. Two important garden chores between now and the next rainy season will be maintaining mulch and watering deeply.

Pinching Perennials. Soft-stemmed perennials, such as fuchsia and salvia, like to have their tips pinched. Pinching back the tips now will encourage an attractive bushy shape and lots of flowers.

Fall Flavor. For fall color, plant small rooted cuttings of chrysanthemums. Now is a good time to plant mums, or to divide your own plants.

Plant Your Zinnia Seeds. Zinnias are one of the very best summer cutting flowers. Your grandmother's favorite is probably still available, but there are many new varieties as well.

Heavenly Herbs. Lavenders, santolina, and rosemary need occasional pruning to maintain their shape and health. You can use hedge shears for this job, and save the cuttings for decorative swags or cooking. Gray santolina cuttings may be put in the closet or sweater drawer; they deter moths.

Start Annual Herbs. Try basil, cilantro, and dill. Consider planting them with your annual vegetables, as they appreciate the same culture as tomatoes, corn, peppers, and melons.

Plant Traditional Veggie Garden Plants. Sow beans, cantaloupes, carrots, cucumbers, corn, parsnips, pumpkins, spinach, chard, radishes, squash, and watermelon from seed. If you want to grow big pumpkins, get your seed in the ground by mid-month and prepare to water and fertilize heavily. Eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers may be direct-seeded or set out as transplants.

Plant Citrus Now. Avocado, macadamia, banana, and passion fruit can also go in now. Remember that these plants will need plenty of water until they are established. Because the warm months are these plants' growing season, they need food. Apply organic fertilizer available in bags at the nursery, or apply your own compost. In either event, water well before and after application.

Lawn Care. All turf grasses are growing now and may be successfully planted. Even, frequent watering is the key to a beautiful lawn in our arid region.

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