May gardening to dos on the green divas

Garden mentor, Green Diva Ali talks about tips for planting your spring garden on this episode Green Divas in the Garden podcast:

Wondering what gardening chores to do in May?

I’ve put together this May gardening guide—what to plant, harvest and care for this month! Here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, our frost-free date (the last average date of a frost) is May 15th. You can adjust the timing of your “to-dos” by looking up your own frost-free date and adding or subtracting weeks as appropriate.

There are many sources for frost-free dates on the Internet—I like to use the Farmer’s Almanac version, which also provides information about planting with the moon cycles (waxing and waning–another post!) We’ve already been planting cool season annuals and vegetables in April and by the end of May we begin to plant warm season flowers and crops in the ground outdoors.


Trees and shrubs, ground covers, vines, grasses

Path in blooming garden

This year especially (we’re having cool weather longer than usual), there’s still time to plant trees and shrubs, ground covers, grasses and most vines. This gives them time to establish roots before the heat of summer comes on.

Be sure to water all new plants carefully as needed for at least the first year and two years for trees and large shrubs. This is also a good time of year for us to aerate our lawns (we have cool season turf grasses).

Vegetables and fruit

We’re just about to do our second planting of peas, beets, carrots, lettuces, radishes and spinach. This is a good time to plant bare-root strawberry plants for fruit next year and thereafter. Early in the month you can still plant onion sets, early potatoes, asparagus crowns and shallots.

At the end of the month, when the soil temperature exceeds 60 degrees F, plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, beans, squash and corn. You can plant seeds outdoors or purchase seedlings for transplants.

Plant beneficial companions to promote natural pest control and add beauty to the vegetable garden. For example, marigolds are said to repel pests near tomatoes.


Plant seeds of annual…