May: Monthly Review

The beds are filling quickly in May!

How the days can fly by so quickly becomes ever more mystifying to me as I age. One would assume the days would seem longer, but that just isn’t true. This merry month of May was overall delightful! Our world appears to be returning to a bit more “normal” in terms of being with family and friends, exchanging hugs, and just a better overall mental state (less worrying and stressing over the unseen!) We were able to see three of our four children and their families, and have dinner with friends three different times this month! Of course, having the gardens filled with flowers and food is always delightful, too!

Weather wise, it was just about as perfect as May can be, although a bit more rain would have been welcome. There were 27 of the 31 days of May that were sunny, mostly in the mid-70’s F and labeled “beautiful!” in the daily journal, and 4 days that were overcast or rainy, although the rain totals were much less than the normal 6″ for May. The hoses had to come into play more often than is usual, but I find that relaxing and a good time to really look at things as I water. The flowers that were so meager and long-awaited in February, March and April just exploded in May. It was a task just to keep up with the Bloom Journal, and pleasing to note that some of the gaps that occurred last year were filled in a bit this year by the alliums and new irises. The mock orange shrubs planted as tiny babies three years ago finally are filling in and blooming more profusely, too, and the primulas added last year to the Front Island have made a difference there. Just for the fun of it, a look back at the Bloom Journal shows the number of varieties that bloomed each month: March: 31; April: 64; May: 82

May brought an end to having plants in the basement (Hurrah!) but before that happened, 8 varieties were seeded, bringing the final 2021 indoor seeding number to 166. In addition, 690 babies were potted up, bringing the total transplants to date to 3,268. That doesn’t count things potted up from the gardens for the plant sale, only seeds planted and grown on to pots.

There are buds on the summer squash!

In the potager, May saw most of the over-wintered crops (spinach, kale, carrots, leeks) harvested and new crops put in on an almost daily basis. Surprisingly, there are still “Tom Thumb” and leaf lettuces that overwintered being enjoyed in salads as the month ends! The major planting of the heat-loving tomatoes, peppers and squash was delayed by a couple of mid-month frost warnings, but they are catching up quickly with blooms already appearing on both tomatoes and peppers! The squash are budded, so they won’t be long either. There are some new varieties that I’m excited to try: “Jaune de Vert,” which can be used as a summer squash when young, but can also be allowed to mature and stored as a winter squash; and “Bossa Nova,” an improved zucchini type with pale, pale green skin with dark green markings.

Look closely and you’ll see tiny, tiny purple cauliflower heads beginning to form!

I’m also eager to try the purple cauliflower, which I’ve not grown before. The web flats under them are shading a newly transplanted crop of lettuces. The snow peas are ready, the shelling peas are setting pods. The number of varieties added to the potager in May was 50, bringing the total to 81, which doesn’t count anything already there (perennial herbs, flowers, self-seeded volunteers, etc.) The potager is really starting to look full!

The first strawberries of the season are always a treat! The berry boxes seem to be working well; so far no raccoon, bird or squirrel damage.

Harvest-wise, May brought a slight increase to the menu: radishes, green onions, strawberries, and bok choy were added to the asparagus, carrots, leeks, lettuces, kale, and spinach we’d been eating steadily. Total harvest in May was 36.25 lbs. (’17: 9.5; ’18: 23.5; ’19: 14.75; ’20: 25.25) Most of this increase was due to the crops that were overwintered so successfully in the berry boxes covered in plastic. Certainly that will be repeated next year with all four being put to that use, and maybe even one more being built this fall! We’ll see how it goes. No preserving was done in May.

The Cutting Garden is nearly all planted as of May 31st, with the last of the dahlias, the miniature gladiolas, scabiosa, celosias, zinnias and cosmos added most recently. The “bunny fence” seems to be working so far. Eight bouquets were harvested, with Dames’ Rocket, May Queen shastas, iris, Silver Bells, hyacinthoides and columbines added from the gardens to what was available in the Cutting Garden proper.

The first load of mulch was acquired and spread on the potager’s two main paths in May. Obviously, mulching is far behind normal but it will be done over time.

Remember those ugly pink portulaca that were planted in the Front Garden (presumably orange!)? Well, worry no longer because the bunnies ate them down to the soil line! Now I’ll have to think of a way to thwart them when the replacement (yellow) ones are added. I see those “teenagers” romping through the lawn and disappearing into various gardens, and know that it’s doubtful their appetites will lessen! Where are my foxes when I need them?

That’s the review for May, 2021. It was SUCH a good month, and seems to promise lots of good things to come. Hope your May was filled with blessings as well. Happy growing!


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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9 Responses to May: Monthly Review

  1. Going Batty in Wales says:

    I have been away visiting my daughter for a few days and am just about to do a tour of the garden to see what has happened in my absence- such a busy growing time! I really couldn’t afford to be away but after so long I didn’t even try to resist the temptation! I am so pleased that you too are now meeting up with family and friends.


    • carolee says:

      So glad you had a good visit. I think it’s important to get away, even for a day, because I always appreciate what I have, and what I’ve missed while gone. Sometimes I get some new ideas, or see a pretty planting that I can imitate at home, too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Going Batty in Wales says:

        Suburban Basingstoke is a bit low on inspiring gardens but I did enjoy some meals out which gave me new ideas for cooking!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Beth says:

    So beautiful! Look forward to seeing what the summer brings to your garden. A dachshund would take care of those bunnies real quick, if the foxes don’t reappear!


  3. Jo Shafer says:

    I’m interested in trying those Jaune de Vert summer squash, if I can find plants at one of the nurseries around here. No seeds, however; I simply don’t do well with seeds in this soil.


  4. woollee1 says:

    Always inspired by your garden reports, fab to hear things are returning to normal there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like a lovely month! We had a very similar May just a bit warmer, and now we are making up for it with lots of rain. The garden has exploded and is loving it!


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