Dr. Gouin’s Bay
A month-by-month guide to keeping your garden growing strong
• Design your garden and/or landscape and determine the number of each species needed.
• Scratch out garden weeds now before they grow big.
• Clean out and repair bird houses
• Cut branches of flowering quince and camellia japonica for indoor forcing
• At month’s end, cut branches of forsythia, weigela, flowering almond, peach and cherry for indoor forcing
• Sharpen and clean all garden tools.
• Prune summer-flowering shrubs, vines and crape myrtle.
• Sow seeds of cabbage, kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, spinach, celery indoors
• Sow seeds of petunia, impatience, coleus
• Remove from cold storage potted bulbs of narcissus, tulips, crocus and hyacinths for forcing in time for Easter
• Rototill the vegetable garden at least two weeks before planting potatoes, peas and asparagus by the end of the month.
• Remove excess straw from strawberry bed. Leave only a light dusting of straw to protect the strawberries from direct contact with the soil
• Prune butterfly bush.
• Rake away leaves and debris and clear dead plants from beds.
• Plant earliest cool weather crops: peas, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, chard.
• Prune summer-flowering roses (Spring-flowering roses. should only be pruned after flowering). 18 inches is the optimum height.
• Mulch perennials
• Mow old annuals and perennials with the mower set high; leave roots in place
• Plant container-grown or balled and burlapped trees and shrubs.
• Spread an inch of compost over the flower garden.
• Divide perennials, ornamental grasses
• Last chance to prune summer-flowering roses.
• Paint nail polish on all cut rose canes thicker than a pencil.
• Plant onions, peas, potatoes, parsnips, beets, Swiss chard and carrots.
• Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, celery.
• Prune hydrangeas.
• Cut out old, gray stems of forsythia after blooming.
• Plant perennials, herbs and less hardy cool crops.
• Last chance to prune crape myrtle.
• Remove seed heads from tulips, narcissus and hyacinths.
• Set the lawn mower to at least 3.5 inches to crowd out weeds and improve turf.
• Thin seedlings of carrots, beets, Swiss chard and parsnips.
• Plant corn, beans, squash, cucumbers.
• Transplant annuals in the flower and vegetable garden.
• Prune spring bloomers including spring-flowering roses, azaleas, rhododendrons, andromeda, mountain laurel, forsythia, weigela, spirea, viburnum, flowering crab apples, lilacs, cherry laurel after they have finished flowering.
• Pick (or pick up) asparagus.
• Plant your full garden after May 10.
• Dig and divide daffodil bulbs.
• Pick strawberries, blueberries.
• Hill potatoes with compost to control Colorado potato beetle.
• Install drip irrigation to maximize water use and minimize water need.
• Spray Bt to control cabbage loopers on cabbage, broccoli.
• Start training tomato plants to grow upright on stakes or trellises.
• Prune wigelia as forsythia (See April)
• Fertilize roses and spray for mildew and black spot
• Stake plants before they grow too big to prevent broken branches or fallen over stems later.
• Hill potatoes with enough compost to prevent the leaves from touching the ground.
• Hand-prune yews, hollies, photinia, junipers, viburnums.
• Start harvesting garlic as soon as the leaves begin turning yellow-green.
• Harvest early varieties of corn and tomatoes.
• Dead-head herbaceous plants such as delphiniums and peonies to keep them tidy, and those such as petunias and nasturtium to keep them flowering.
• Prune hedges. Make the bottom slightly wider than the top to avoid bare bottoms.
• Check all plants, especially those newly planted, for water on a regular basis. Water deeply and thoroughly.
• Kill Bermuda grass with Roundup.
• Keep edges well trimmed; cut back with an edging iron those that have spread.
• Cut back mint, thyme and lemon balm to prevent a raggedy appearance.
• Water lawn and flowers in the morning to avoid wilting in the heat of the day and to prevent mildew and root-rot at night.
• Give cool-season crops a cold head start: For near-perfect germination, sow seeds in trays and keep them in your air-conditioned home until they germinate, then move them outdoors in full sun.
• Harvest peppers for now and later.
• Harvest onions when the leaves change from dark blue green to pale green. Cure for at least two weeks in shade before storing
• Top-seed lawn to fill in bare spots
• Sow the seeds for fresh broccoli, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens and kohlrabi.
• Plant garlic cloves for next year’s harvest
• Divide peonies and iris now for more spring blooms
• Plant tulip, narcissus, crocus, hyacinths, grape hyacinths.
• Plant tulip, narcissus, crocus, hyacinths, grape hyacinths in pots for Easter.
• Top-dress lawn with compost at the rate of two cubic yards per 1,000 square feet.
• Start a compost pile using garden waste.
• Plant mums for autumn color.
• Service your chain saw.
• Plant spring-flowering bulbs like daffodils and crocus.
• Mulch azaleas with compost or fertilized them with Holly Tone.
• Rake leaves under shrubs for mulch.
• Use excess leaves in compost. Mix old compost with new leaves and keep sprinkler working to wet compost.
• Build a cold frame to grow lettuce, spinach, radishes and walking onions during winter.
• Kill bamboo and kudzu with Roundup. Make two applications two weeks apart at the recommended concentration.
• Plant pansies and ornamental cabbage for cool-weather color.
• Fertilize azaleas and bluegrass or fescue lawns.
• Terra cotta pots break in cold weather: Bleach them to kill mold and mildew, then dry and stack in shed, garage or basement.
• Plant potted shrubs before they freeze.
• After first frost, start harvesting collards, kale, Brussel sprouts, broccoli
• Clean garden with lawn mower and sow winter rye at eight pounds per 1,000 sq. ft.
• Cut back shrub roses to within 18 inches of the ground to prevent wind whipping of canes
• Wet down compost pile weekly
• Cut greens for the holidays and plunge them into a pail of 100-degree water.
• Your Christmas tree needs the same treatment but first cut one to two inches off the base.
• Spray evergreen decorations with two percent solution of horticultural oil or Plant Shine for brighter leaves.
• Bring a living Christmas tree indoors on day before Christmas; move back outdoors no later than Jan. 2.
• Move bay laurel plants and trees indoors for winter protection.
• Decorate for Christmas with greens of yews, firs, Colorado spruce, arborvitae, junipers, hollies, cherry laurel, boxwood and more; Avoid hemlock, Norway spruce, Cryptomeria, red cedar and Japanese privet.
• Force narcissus and amaryllis bulbs indoors.