May Gardening Chores

How does it feel to have lived through Missouri’s coldest spring in recorded history going back to 1893, this past spring?

The good news is that the soil should finally be warming up enough this month for seeds to sprout, even if some crops like corn and wheat may be a few weeks behind their usual growing schedule. Where I live in mid-Missouri, USDA Hardiness Zone 5b, the last frost date is usually Mother’s Day, which this year is May 13.

If your spring crops didn’t make it, try again as there still should be time for at least one sowing of lettuce, spinach, and radish seeds.

There is always a good time to plant onions, I grow several crops throughout the growing season. Onion sets planted around roses make good bug deterrents and are fun to harvest as long as you remember to leave a couple on bug patrol.

The forecast is that we will have a wet May so take the opportunity to get tree seedlings planted. This is also a good time to divide and move perennials.

Mark daffodils you want to dig up and move later this fall.

As daffodils and tulips continue to fade, don’t mow the leaves down with the lawn mower until they turn yellow.

See ants on your blooming peonies? Gently shake them off if you want to bring cut flowers inside, otherwise leave them alone. The ants help the flower buds open.

If you don’t compost, this is a good month to start.

Summer plants started inside in containers can start to spend a few hours a day outside on warm, sunny days before you transplant them into your outside garden.

Shop for natives to add for mid to late summer flowers. Good choices include Purple Coneflowers, Black-eyed Susan, Salvias, and any plants with low water requirements.

If you want more daffodils, don’t cut off the fading flowers, the green, round heads are full of seeds that will scatter and form more daffodil bulbs. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a gardener, beekeeper, and sometimes cook.  For more, visit Published by Kaleidoscope Weekly with permission. Copyright 2018, all rights reserved. This column may not be copied, published, reprinted, rewritten, or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at

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