Alberta gardening expert Jim Hole is planting his garden (and has been for a few weeks already!), but there's plenty we can all do to get our garden beds ready to roll this month. We asked Hole about this busy time of year for gardeners.
Alberta Prime Times: May is go-time in the garden, so what to do first?
Hole: Clean up the yard and garden beds--give things a light raking, clean matted grass and debris so new growth can breathe. You can add grass seed to the lawn if there's winter damage, but don't go crazy trying to make things pristine. In fact, advocates now say to leave things as is a little longer so beneficial insects etc can benefit from overwintering in piles of old leaves and such. But you can turn the compost pile, and keep adding organic materials that you gather from the yard cleanup. Don't prune trees now, before they flower--prune when things are dormant. And be aware of what works in our conditions; we're pretty much a zone 4 now, so follow those guidelines for what to plant and when.
APT: But it's time to get seeds into the garden beds, yes?
Hole: Soil is most important, so amend it with compost or manure or fresh potting soil etc. Make that good foundation ready for the seedlings or seeds. Then yes, you can already plant seeds that will take a bit of time to sprout--carrots can go in, and cold loving vegetables--lettuces, spinach, chard, chives.
APT: And other plants go in after the threat of frost is past--May long weekend?
Hole: By late May, you're pretty much safe to plant your heat-loving vegetable seedlings--squash, zucchini, tomatoes, corn. You can buy the baskets of flowers from garden centres and put those out on the deck too. Pansies have been fine to go for awhile, and they can tolerate a bit of cold and frost. If there's a frost warning, you'll need to cover or bring pots of other annuals inside.
APT: Any thoughts on whether to tread carefully or go for it?
Hole: I always say if something gets wiped out due to the weather, you've only wasted the cost of a pack of seeds. So plant early, and plant often--be brave for the greatest potential payout.