May: What to do in the Garden

Planning Ahead

  • Prepare beds for the garden 1 – 3 weeks before planting.
  • Watch any weeds for flowering and setting seed. If you are trying to prevent these plants from growing in abundance in your garden, you will need to pull them before their flowers mature.
  • Mulch to prevent weeds. Rake back mulch and warm the soil before planting seeds.
  • Compost and collect organic matter for the compost pile.
  • Compost and amend your soil before planting.
  • Plant summer cover crops such as buckwheat, clover, and alfalfa in preparation for the winter garden.
  • Watch for slugs and other insect pests on your plants and trees.
  • Protect your plants from deer and other wildlife.
  • Ensure good air flow around your plants to prevent fungal disease.
  • Build trellises for vining plants.
  • Dry herbs for tea.
  • Harvest edible flowers.


In The Vegetable Garden

  • Wait until after May 15 or so to plant warm season crops
  • Set out tomato plants when the evening temperatures are above 50 degrees.
  • Harden off seedlings by placing them outdoors 5 days – 1 week before planting. Gradually help them adapt to the potency of the sunlight and the wind. For the first couple days, bring them indoors at night. On the third day or so, keep them out all night.
  • Plant eggplant and pepper starts late in the month.
  • Use willow tea or kelp tea diluted in water 10:1 to prevent your plants from experiencing transplanting shock.
  • Direct sow cucumbers, melons, squash (summer & winter), and pumpkins after the danger of frost has passed.
  • Soak your bean seeds in preparation for planting. Coat in legume inoculant before planting.
  • Remember your succession crops of Radishes and Lettuce. Plant about every two weeks.
  • Sow corn in late May. Pre-sprout your seeds by soaking in water before planting. If you live in a wet area, you may want to consider transplants.
  • Direct sow outdoors carrots, caraway, cilantro, dill, parsnip, chives, leeks, green onions, amaranth, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, radishes, oriental greens, beets, orach, spinach, chard, quinoa, lettuce, and beans,
  • If you have starts, transplant arugula, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, oriental greens, kohlrabi, and lettuces in the garden. Consider your shady microclimates for summer salads.
  • By the end of the month, transplant out squashes, cucumbers, pumpkins, basil, and melons.
  • Thin carrots, beets, onions, lettuces, parsnips, leeks, and radishes
  • Harvest leafy greens. Remember, the more often you pick, the more you encourage these plants to produce greens for you. Nitrogen is the crucial nutrient for leafy vegetative growth.
  • Plant your yacon tubers in the garden.


Fruit Trees and Berry Bushes

  • Set out mason bee houses.
  • Check your trees and shrubs for insect or disease problems. If you see disease, spray with compost tea every other week.
  • Spray fruit trees for fungal diseases such as scab and mildew.
  • Mulch your blueberry plants heavily with woodchips to help hold water in the summer.
  • Divide your strawberry plants if they have not flowered yet. Transplant new strawberries into the garden.
  • Divide and transplant raspberries.
  • Control foliar diseases using compost tea on roses, apples, pears, cherry, etc.
  • Watch for currant worms. Ideally, feed the worms to your chickens. Otherwise, crush the worms and compost them.



  • Plant flowers that attract beneficial insects and repel pests.
  • Top dress your rhubarb plants with compost or manure to encourage more growth.
  • All flower seeds can be sown in the garden.
  • Divide and plant dahlias in the garden.
  • Remove the foliage from your bulbs once it withers and turns brown. Plant annual flowers to take up the newly available space.
  • Move tender perennials outside after there is no danger of frost.
  • Label the locations of your bulbs for dividing in the fall.
  • Transplant any potted plants into larger containers.
  • Prune woody plants after they are done blooming.



How to Make Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorite recipes.  It’s gourmet and pretty easy once you get the hang of it.  It is also one of my favorite ways to use Lovage, my favorite perennial vegetable.  At least it’s my favorite one of right now. Things may change as others become ready for harvest.

Ingredients for Risotto:

4 cups stock

1 Leek (or 1 Shallot, 1 Onion, or other appropriate allium)

1-3 Stalks Lovage (I really like Lovage)

1 cup Rice (usually Arborio, but I tend to use short grained brown rice.  You can also use quinoa)

1/4 cup White Wine

1 Bundle Asparagus (or handful of Chard, Kale, Nettles, Sorrel, or Arugula Greens, or your favorite tender vegetable)

1/4 cup Pecorino or Parmesan Cheese

Parsley, Chervil, or Chives for garnish.  Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Homemade Horseradish is a great garnish for risotto as well.

To prepare:

Put 4 cups of stock in a pot and let simmer.  Do not bring this to a boil.  Simply warm the stock.

In another pot, coat with olive oil and warm on medium heat.  Sautee your leeks, onions, or shallots in a pan for 2 minutes.  Add lovage or other fragrant herbs if you are using them.  Once these vegetables and herbs release their scent, add 1 cup of rice to the pot.  Stir the rice to coat with olive oil.  Once covered in oil and translucent, add 1/4 cup of white wine.  Stir frequently as the white wine is absorbed into the rice, vegetables, and herbs mixture.

Once the wine is absorbed, add in a 1/2 cup of stock and stir frequently as it absorbs into your rice, vegetables, and herbs. Once the stock is absorbed into your mixture, add another 1/2 cup of stock.  Stir frequently and add stock as it becomes absorbed into the rice and vegetables mixture.  When you add the last 1/2 cup of stock, add Asparagus, Chard, Kale, Nettles, Sorrel, or any other tender vegetable.

Grate 1/4 cup of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.  Once all liquid is absorbed, add in the cheese and garnish with Parsley, Chervil, Chives or other delight.