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Let’s Get Gardening in May from the Garden Mill

Vegetable and herb starts I grew from seeds purchased from Garden Mill.

By Jennifer Fairfield, owner Garden Mill

I cannot begin to express my gratitude to the people who have reached out in support of us over the last six weeks. I can only – very humbly – say, “Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart.”

Your purchases of gift certificates and items from our website and over the phone have kept us going; we get excited every time another order comes in. Hearing from everyone – over and over – how much you care that we make it through this makes us understand, more every day, how very fortunate we are to have such wonderful customers (friends), and what a fabulous community we have. Thank you.

I saw something recently that said “2020 – the year that has 31 days in January, 29 days in February, 300 days in March, and 5,000 days in April.” I think we can all relate to that.

For so many reasons, April has seriously dragged on and on – the fact that we were all pretty much stuck at home, and that the weather wasn’t very conducive for getting outside much of the month among them. Fortunately, the weather is looking up for the next little bit – at least in terms of sunshine.

It’s actually not unusual for it to be chilly for the early part of May – despite what the “average” might be. If you’ve be gardening in Michigan for any length of time, this won’t come as a surprise to you.

Regardless of the temperature, May is the month when gardening really starts to kick into gear in Southeast Michigan, though.

For information on what to do when his month, read on:
Vegetable Garden:
Plant potatoes early in the month, but make sure the soil has warmed up to at least 45°. Potatoes prefer somewhat cooler temperatures for growing, and will stop producing if the soil temperature goes over 80°.

So, planting as early as you can is best, but if the soil is too cold and wet when you plant, the seed potatoes may decay instead of growing.

If you’ve never grown potatoes, you really should. They are pretty easy to grow and so much better when home-grown. Don’t grow from potatoes you buy at the grocery store, though. Potatoes that are sold as “seed potatoes” must be certified to be disease free, which is very important when growing them.

Grocery store potatoes are not certified, which could mean you end up with no potatoes in the end, which would really stink. We do have certified disease-free seed potatoes still available at the store – give us a call to see what we have available.

Onion sets should also be planted early this month, as they need a somewhat long growing time, and also don’t do as well in the heat.

Broccoli, cabbage, kale, and head lettuce can still be planted now, as can rhubarb, asparagus, and strawberries. But get all of these in the ground soon, as these all prefer cooler temperatures.

You likely won’t be harvesting the rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries this year, though – in general, they will need a full year to get established before harvesting. Because of this, make sure you have a spot for them where they can grow undisturbed for a number of years. All three like well-drained soil, and really need to be in an area that is kept weed-free in order to thrive.

Plant herb seedlings that don’t mind the slightly chilly weather such as parsley, thyme, sage, and oregano, early in the month. Others, including rosemary, basil, cilantro, and dill should wait until all danger of frost has passed (which won’t be until at least May 15). Basil, especially, should not be planted too early, as it doesn’t tolerate temps below 50°, which is why I generally wait until the end of the month to plant it.

Seeds to plant now include leaf lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes, and beets. Beans can be planted beginning about mid-month, if the soil has warmed up. Seeds planted in soil that is too cold will likely just rot as they wait for the soil temperature that is just right for them.

If you’re not sure what the right soil temperature is for your seeds, a soil thermometer (available at The Garden Mill, of course) takes the guess work out of getting the timing right.

If you are starting your own plants, it’s time to start squash and cucumber seeds indoors, so that they are ready to transplant outside at the end of the month.

Once the soil has warmed up to above 60° and nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50°, it’s safe to plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, and cucumbers. Around here, that typically means right about Memorial Day weekend.

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2 thoughts on “Let’s Get Gardening in May from the Garden Mill”

    • Hi Merrill – Yes! We will be getting lavender plants in, along with Italian Basil, Lemon Basil, Thai Basil, Dill, Cilantro, Spearmint, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme. 🙂

      It will likely be around the end of next week at the earliest, simply because the weather is not cooperating just yet. We’ll announce their arrival on our Facbook page and website.

      Thanks for asking!

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