Garden Chore Calendar: May is for Mulching

The Gardenist

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If you haven't cleaned up your garden for the spring, you need to get busy because it is time to get on with the next of the big spring garden chores: mulching. And, beside this one big chore, there are a few other things that need to be tackled a this time of year...

1) Mulching. Lots of materials can be used to mulch. The point of mulching it deter weeds but also to insulate roots and help the soil beneath retain water. If you choose wisely, a good layer of much can also help nourish plants (I like to mulch with compost which will slowly feed plants over time) and it can add to the design of your garden. Where I am not wanting to feed plants, gravel and stone are favorite choices in my garden, but you can mulch with all sorts of natural (and unnatural - but I don't recommend it) materials.

2) Plant Annuals. If you want lush colorful plantings through the summer, often annuals are the most reliable way to achieve it (particularly if you have lots of newly planted perennials and shrubs who need time to mature into their full glory). Plant them now for long lasting effect. Personally I like to choose one color (last year I went with red, this year I am still deciding but leaning towards white or purple) and I stick to that color in all my annual plant buying. This way I can fill in holes throughout my garden (buying plants that suit the specific conditions of the planting area) but I create a seamless color story throughout.

3) Plant summer bulbs and tubers. Dahlias, gladiolas, and other summer blooming bulbs should be planted right away. If you wait much longer you will have less time to enjoy them at the end of the season before you have to dig them up for winter storage (if, like me, you live in an area where these bulbs and tubers usually cannot overwinter).

4) Weed now for easier work later. The longer you let the weeds go before pulling them the harder they are to eradicate. Pull baby weeds now - they come out easily and not only will they not have a chance to anchor themselves in, but you will disrupt them from going to seed and causing more weeds later.

5) Spread Corn Gluten Meal on lawns. Corn gluten is an excellent organic alternative weed seed pre-emergents (i.e. it will prevent sprouting seeds from growing roots). The Cornmeal also fertilizes with nitrogen and if used regularly will not only encourage a less weedly lawn but one with fuller greener grass.

(Image credits: Christopher Sessums under CC BY 2.0)

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