May 2014 Gardening Calendar
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In the vegetable garden, plant okra and southern peas by seed. If you can find large-size tomato transplants, they should be able to mature a crop if they get in the garden early in the month. Pepper transplants will do fine. My favorite mild pepper is yellow banana. They can be eaten fresh, used for salads or used in most of the same recipes as bell peppers. They are also easier to grow. For a hot pepper, jalapeños are also very easy to grow.
Depending on when you planted your onions, the tops may flop over in May indicating they are ready to harvest. If you plant the mid-day length onions, such as candy red apple, or sweepstake in March or April, they may have two more months to grow. Fertilize them one more time in May. Use 1 cup of slow-release lawn fertilizer dressed over 16 feet of row.
Swiss chard may still be producing edible greens, but relegate the rest of the greens to the compost pile.
The organic control spinosad can be used for flea beetles on green beans and southern peas. Follow label instructions.
Stink bugs in fruit are difficult to control. Sevin applied as a spray seems to be the best control tactic.
Seaweed extract and neem oil may not control all spider mites on tomatoes, but they will slow down their spread if the sprays are applied carefully under the leaves once a week.
In the flower garden, the cool weather annuals are declining in the heat. Replace snapdragons with zinnias or cosmos. Replace pansies with moss rose or purslane. In the shade, coleus, pentas, caladiums and begonias are good choices. Zinnias, moss rose, purslane and begonias do well in containers.
Remember, if your wildflowers, larkspurs and other naturalized flowers are going to return by seed next spring, the seed must be allowed to mature and fall to the soil. Mowing down bluebonnets and other wildflowers before the seeds finish their development will reduce blooms for next year.
It is time to fertilize the lawn. Use a slow-release lawn fertilizer such as 19-5-9. Mow your St. Augustine at 3.5 inches, zoysia grass at 2 inches, Bermuda at 1.5 inches and buffalo grass at 5 inches tall. If you haven’t had the lawnmower blade sharpened and the engine tuned up, do it now.
Some peaches may ripen in May. They are ready to harvest when the background color changes from green to yellow. The advantage of harvesting them as quickly as possible is that it reduces the chance that squirrels, raccoons, opossums and birds will take more than their share of the crop.
Use bird netting on blueberries before they get ripe, otherwise the birds may pick them all over a day or two.
It is likely that we will be forced into Stage 3 restrictions this summer. Make a plan to deal with the restrictions. Use a sprinkler once every two weeks and drip irrigation on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays during the 7-11 a.m. and 7-11 p.m. periods. The key is effective use of hand watering as a supplement.
Identify healthy well-established trees and shrubs that don’t need irrigation. If possible, also designate a portion of the lawn as a no-water zone. Remember that zoysia, Bermuda and buffalo move into a dormant-like state during dry times but quickly recover when the rains start. Even St. Augustine grass, especially in 6 inches or more of soil and in the shade, can survive a long period without rain or irrigation. Visit the San Antonio Water System website for more information.
Calvin Finch Ph.D. is a Horticulturist and Director with the Texas A&M Water Conservation and Technology Center.