University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
PROPER MULCHING AND OTHER MAY
Leonard Perry, UVM Extension
Proper mulching, watching for tent
caterpillars, and planting vegetables are some of the many gardening
for this month.
When spreading bark mulch around
trees, be sure to remove the old mulch first and not spread the mulch
the tree trunk. You should only have a 2- inch thick layer of mulch
tree so roots can breathe. Mulch piled against the tree trunk (called
mulching after its appearance) can lead to crown rot and eventual death
tree. Use the old mulch in compost, or spread on flower and shrub
beds. It is already partially broken down, and as
it continues will add organic matter to soils.
Check apple, cherry, and other
fruit trees for nests of tent caterpillars. They will emerge as the
to feed. Blast low lying nests with water to destroy them or spray Bt
emerging caterpillars. Bt will harm only the caterpillars and not other
beneficial insects, birds or humans.
While checking fruit trees, look
for signs of fireblight, especially on pears and apples. The
infected tips of branches will be dark,
shriveled, and with leaves still clinging from last year. They look
someone torched them with fire. Prune
out infected shoots, then disinfect your pruners with a chlorine bleach
solution (one part bleach to 9 parts water).
It's vegetable planting time in
most of the area. In valleys and warm areas plant tomatoes, peppers,
lettuce, squash, and cucumbers the end of the month. Many
like to plant around Memorial Day. In
colder areas you may want to wait until early June to plant these heat
as watermelon, okra, and eggplant. Plant them too early before the air
ground warms up, and they won’t grow, and may even rot.
Flowers are a bit more forgiving
than warm-season vegetables if planted out early and the spring is
cool. Just have some frost protection ready, just
in case. A heavier weight “frost
blanket” provides a couple degrees more frost protection than a
Young seedlings just sprouting
such as lettuce, beets, and carrots need a consistent supply of water
they don't dry out and die. Once germination starts, it can't be
stopped, so if the weather turns warm and dry, water these seeded
beds every day.
Tomatoes produce and grow best
when staked or caged to keep the plants off the ground. Place
supports when you put transplants into the ground so you don't
root systems by installing them later. Caged plants can grow
use large cages made from concrete-reinforcing wire to support
them. If using tomato cages or wide wire mesh such
as from fencing, make sure to hold it up with 2 or 3 stakes so the
wont topple later.
Make sure if you have rabbits and
deer and groundhogs that your plants are safe.
If you plant in a discrete area, you can fence it with 2-foot high
chicken wire for low mammals. Just make
sure the wire mesh is either partially buried or anchored to the
ground. For deer you’ll need taller fencing, perhaps
4 feet for a small area but up to 8 feet for large areas. The
lower height often works if a small bed,
as they’re afraid of jumping in and getting trapped. Of
course there are many repellents you can buy
or make and spray onto individual shrubs and flowers.