Monthly Garden Calendar for Pacific Northwest United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Debbie Leung

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MAY

Before moving to the maritime northwest nearly thirty years ago, friends fed me tall tales about life in this land of persistent rain. A natural layer of mossy slime would replace my tan and I would develop a special relationship with monster slugs. But when I started farming here and worked outside every day, I was among the few in town with a tan. It's true about the slugs, though. I once left a bowl of cat food out on the porch at night and woke up to the sound of slugs chewing it!

In the garden, daily slug patrols in the evening or early morning for a couple weeks can drastically reduce the slug population. Look among their favorite food plants like lettuce and the tender shoots of young perennials. Then catch them in their favorite moist, dark hiding places, like under wood planks or in the grassy edges that surround the garden. Cut every one in half or drop into a bucket of soapy water. Gadgets on the market can be fun to try, but the patrols are foolproof.

Frosty Tip. Wait until the last-frost date this month to put out fuchsia baskets and plant frost-sensitive vegetables and flowers like tomatoes, basil, and impatiens outside without protection.

Hurray for Raised Beds. Raised beds and plastic mulch can help increase the soil temperature faster for strong, early growth of heat-loving plants like peppers, cucumbers, and melons.

Veggie Delight. One planting of early, mid, and late season varieties of beans, broccoli, cabbage, and corn easily results in staggered harvests over a long period.

Weeding and Feeding. Weed and feed the asparagus and berry patch early this month for sweet harvests next month. Use a balanced organic fertilizer and mulch with compost.

Weekly Harvests. Keep the kitchen garden productive with a twice-weekly harvest routine. Harvesting encourages plants to continue producing. On harvest day, cut everything that is ripe. For crops like spinach, lettuce, and cilantro that do not hold well in the garden, harvests the entire plant.

Don't Forget to Deadhead. Cut off the dead flowers on spring-blooming bulbs, but not the leaves, which feed the bulbs for blooms next year.

Happy Houseplants. Repot houseplants and other potted plants with fresh potting soil and divide them if the roots completely fill the pot.

Lawns Will Be Lush. Mow the grass high (3-4 inches) and leave it where it lies to feed the soil that nourishes it.

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