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Playing in the dirt: A May to-do guide for area gardeners


Sharon Carrigan

Sharon Carrigan



Sharon Carrigan



Beep, beep! What's that? The microwave announcing your popcorn is ready? No. Your alarm telling you it's time to get up and get going for the day? No. Your phone alarm telling you it's time to pick up your daughter from cheer practice? No ... it's the Master Gardeners tooting our own horn for our first ever stand-alone plant sale success. A big shout-out to my fellow MGs who all worked so very hard. And a big thank you to all you folks who helped make it such a success. 


Have you been playing in the dirt? The weather says its time, and I'll tell you exactly what you should be doing this month in a few more words. But, first: if April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Read through to the end for the answer to that teasing question.  


What's growing in your dirt? Here are some things growing in mine: purple/blue clematis, purple/black bearded iris, white-throated red amaryllis and pink-eyed Susans. Several annuals have volunteered from last year's seeds, and some perennial salvia is going to town. If you don't have these in your garden or don't even know what they are, then you'll want to watch for the announcement of the Master Gardener classes next year along about January. Come join us for group-playing in the dirt. Now as promised, some tips for your May play time: 






Plant annuals and perennials: For the shade garden, plant impatiens, coleus, sweet alyssum, lobelia and annual dianthus. 


For sunny gardens, plant verbena, periwinkle, ageratum, marigolds, zinnias, petunia, wax begonia, clematis, four o'clocks and portulaca aka moss rose. 


Watch the weather and water when it gets dry. 


For the veggie garden, plant cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squash, peas, beans, okra, watermelons and cantaloupe. 




Pest control 


Watch for red spiders, thrips, aphids, lacebugs and lacewings, slugs, crown rot, slugs/snails, mildew and fungus. 






New buds are forming on azaleas and camellias so prune now or not at all this year. Prune gardenias by cutting for a bouquet, thus killing two birds with one stone, sweetening your home atmosphere and cutting back the shrub. 


Regular cutting of blooming plants (early in the morning for best results) will keep them blooming longer. 


Remove seedpods from bulbs and irises as they sap the plants' strength. 


Mulch to conserve moisture for the plant and keep the soil cool. 


Now the answer to the burning question, if April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Answer: Pilgrims, of course. (I know. It's as corny as it gets. What can I say? This Master Gardener is a sucker for a corny joke.) 'Til next month, go play in the May dirt. You'll feel better for it. 


Sharon Carrigan of Columbus shares gardening tips on behalf of the Lowndes County Master Gardeners. For more about Master Gardeners, contact the Lowndes County Extension office, 662-328-2111.



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