Seasonal Gardening: May

Late season snow and cold temperatures made for a slow start to the month of May, but it appears that the danger of frost has passed. All but the latest bloomers of trees are just about fully leafed out. It’s a peak time for watching and hearing backyard and woodland songbirds. Emergence of mayflies near bodies of water signals the start of insect season, which this year includes the emergence of the extremely numerous 17-year cicada in nearby areas. This all means that it’s one of the busiest times in the garden for transplanting plant starts and direct sowing warm weather crops. Key seasonal indicators, garden tasks, and seed starting suggestions are listed here with more information at the link below.
Chive flowers with blue flax, bok choy, kale, and purple deadnettle flowers in the background. May 17, 2021.  Sarah Brower.


Seasonal Indicators

  • Days are really long with about 15 hours of light
  • Most trees are just about fully leafed out
  • Night time temperatures are now consistently above 50°F
  • Bird activity: Baltimore and orchard orioles at backyard feeders; peak time to see over 20 species of warblers; new bird songs in the woods and backyard: gray catbird, wood peewee, wood thrush, red-eyed vireo
  • Deer fawns are out foraging
  • Mayfly emergence and associated bird activity  
  • Green frogs and bull frogs have added their songs to the chorus of gray tree frogs
  • Rhododendrons, azaleas, hawthorns, and lilacs flowering
  • Weeds - annual ragweed, daisy fleabane, lambs quarters, wood sorrel, sheep’s sorrel, red clover
  • Overwintered kale, bok choy, arugula, mustards, bunching onions, and chives flowering
  • Strawberries are flowering and buds swollen on blackberries and raspberries
  • Buds on roses, peonies, 


Garden Tasks 

  • Transplant plant seedlings!
  • Petal-fall applications of neem and kaolin clay to fruit trees
  • Water 1st-year trees and garden plants through dry spells


Seeds to Direct Sow

  • Bush and pole beans
  • Cucurbits: cucumbers, squashes, zucchini, melons, etc.
  • Corn
  • Basil
  • Sunflowers
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Cilantro and dill
Seasonal Gardening: May
Seasonal Indicators
Garden Tasks
Seeds to Direct Sow