In my estimation, May is the most frenetic month on the garden calendar. At this time of year there are countless gardening possibilities, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed by feelings of urgency around many time-sensitive tasks such as sowing and transplanting (not to mention all the soil prep work required to make those plantings a success). However, it's important to remember that gardening is not a zero sum game. With the exception of trying to start frost-sensitive plants in November or planting coconuts in upstate New York, nearly every horticultural effort rewards the gardener: either with a bounty of fresh food--or a trickle--or a lesson in how to do things better during your next go-round with a particular crop.
So, breathe deep, take your time, and enjoy yourself. If this is one of your first years with a garden, take heart in knowing that these are your hardest seasons. No matter what you're starting with, in a year or two your soil will be more friable, your weed pressure will drop, your beds will be established and easily worked. If you've been at it for a while, don't take minor disappointments to heart--they happen to all of us. And do take the time to look up and look around: May brings amazing scenes of flowering trees and shrubs, dramatic skies, and the soothing return of the shaggy green tapestry that covers our hills and valleys. Enjoy!
What's to sow right now? Lots! Between now and mid-May, sow lettuce, carrots, parsnips, radishes, herbs, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and greens of all sorts directly in the ground. Under proection, you can continue sowing tomatoes as well as okra and early squash, cucumbers, and melons (you can also start brussels sprouts and cabbage in trays--they often are easier to work with as transplants). From mid-May until early June, begin transplanting your frost-sensitive starts, saving the most tender of these (peppers and eggplants and melons and okra) for last. From mid-May on you can also direct sow corn, beans, squash, and cucumbers; save your melon sowings until at least late May. Be aware that while this coming Mother's Day weekend is our traditional last frost date, frost is still possible during the second half of the month--be sure to keep old sheets or sheet plastic on hand to protect young seedlings. From early June on, keep on sowing! In the middle of summer's bounty, it can be hard to believe that the food will ever diminish--but it will. However, if you continue sowing appropriate crops straight through until fall, you will have a steady supply of fresh produce until at least the winter solstice. Without succession sowing, your harvests will end much earlier.
Missed the boat on early sowings? No worries! Our neighbors at Back To Basics have seedlings for sale. Give Linda-Brook a call at 845-626-2317 for details.
CATALOG UPDATE: We're beginning to sell out of a number of varieties. This past weekend we sold out of our first Art Pack variety--Double Yield Cucumber. **Update 5/7/09: Just sold out of Black Valentine Bean, too. Sorry!** We've dropped the price of the Art Pack set and the Bountiful Gift Membership by $7.00 to reflect the absence of these varieties. As it's getting quite late in the season, we will probably not be re-stocking most of the sold-out varieties, especially since several of these--like the cucumber--are homegrown seed. We're shifting our focus to growing out our seed supply for next year and will release our holiday catalog in early November. If you're interested in staying in the loop, be sure to sign up for our e-mail list at the top of this page!
Stay seedy! --Doug