University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
HARDENING SEEDLINGS AND
OTHER MAY GARDENING TIPS
Leonard Perry, UVM Extension
off seedlings before planting outside, checking for tent
reseeding lawns are some of the gardening tips for this month.
sure to harden off indoor-grown seedlings before setting them into
Acclimate plants to outdoor conditions over the course of at least a
preferably two, by gradually increasing the amount of time you leave
outdoors. This includes both exposure to
cooler temperatures and sunlight. Put
them in the shade for a few days to adjust to the brighter sun
outdoors. Plunging them directly from indoors into the
full sun often causes sunburn—a rapid bleaching and dying of
If you've taken advantage of this
early spring by planting your container gardens already, be sure to
them from a spring frost by moving them indoors on chilly nights or
them with a floating row cover.
If you haven’t planted containers yet, consider adding a water
product (sold as this in garden stores) to the soil first. You only
need a little (follow label
directions), with the result being you’ll need to water less often
grow. This kind of addition is
especially useful in hanging baskets that tend to dry out quickly.
apple, cherry, and other fruit trees for nests of tent caterpillars.
low-lying nests with water to destroy them, or knock them to the
destroy them. A spray of Bt will kill emerging caterpillars but is
toxic to beneficial insects, birds, or humans.
you want to move some spring-blooming bulbs to another spot, wait
foliage has turned yellow, then carefully dig them up and let them
dry in a
shady spot for a few days. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place for
until it's time to plant them in fall. Or you can replant them then
the foliage to continue to die back.
This is needed for nutrients to go from the leaves back into the
for the coming season. Don’t have a
place to plant them yet? Then you can
“heel” them in, planting in a shallow trench, or pot them for
you transplant annual flowers and veggies, don't try to loosen the
With such a small root mass, a plant is easily set back if many
damaged. With only a summer in which to
grow, these plants need to hit the ground running with no delays.
reseeding bare spots in the lawn, spread 1 to 2 inches of compost
areas and firm it down. Then sow grass seed. Sprinkle a thin layer
on top of the seed, cover with straw and keep it moist. If you have
encircle the spots with stakes and tie string around them to deter
the weeds in walkways in your garden by covering the soil with some
mulch. Some people like to use carpet scraps placed upside-down.
of moistened newspaper topped with hay or straw works very well,
you move your planting areas around a bit from year to year. Try to
to remove weeds because the process brings up weed seeds from deeper
soil and exposes them to the light they need to grow.
Other tips for this month include
fencing pest animals out of gardens, staking tomatoes while young,
lawns mowed regularly yet not too low (3 inches high is often good).
(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist,
author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; CharlieNardozzi.com).