May is truly a month of magic. After a long and cold winter where our landscape was filled with bleak whites and greys, Mother Nature paints the world anew in brilliant colour once more. Birds sing delicate songs of romance, while fruit trees become boutiques of intense blossoms. Life seems to be springing out of every little nook and cranny, which is the most exciting time of the year for those who want their garden to flourish.
Off to the races, it’s time to plant everything…right?
Not so fast. In early May there is still a potential threat of a late frost or two, especially if you are a resident of Kelowna. A great guide to check to see if frost is still in your forecast is the Farmer’s Almanac Frost Chart. In British Columbia, the frost chart states that there is still a possibility of frigid temperatures from late April to mid-May depending on your location. A great rule of thumb that many garden veterans stick to is to wait until after Mother’s Day to plant any flowers or plants that could be damaged by a frost. If you want a quick up-to-date frost report for the Kelowna area, or some recommendations for what to plant before and after frosts you can give us a call or visit us at the Better Earth Garden Centre.
The Vegetable Garden
We will work with the assumption that if you are reading this, you live somewhere with a similar climate to Kelowna, British Columbia. If you are gardening lover from a different area, type your city, state or province into this planting calculator to get a better idea of what vegetables you should be planting in May.
Sow Indoors – If it is still early May, or unusually cold when you are reading this, there are still many vegetables and fruits that you can sow indoors or undercover, giving your summer garden a head start. Some of these delicious options are: beans, summer cabbage, celery, corn, cucumbers, melons, okra, peas, peppers, summer squash, tomatoes, and watermelons.
Sow Outdoors- It’s great to get some of your crops started indoors, but a real garden lover wants to get their hands in the soil out under the sun. There are a number of garden crops that can be planted outside in May. Some of those are: beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radish, spinach, and swiss chard.
If you were proactive earlier in the season when the threat of frost was still around, you may even have a couple of crops to harvest already. Depending on when planted, kale, leeks, parsnips, swiss chard, brussel sprouts and asparagus can brave the colder temperatures and provide your table with some fresh green spring flavours early on.
After we treat our mothers to various combinations of brunches, chocolates and flowers, it’s time to start thinking about the flowers in your yard. The second half of May is one of the best times to invest some time in the garden to ensure that you and your guests are treated to ample amounts of awe-inspiring colour all summer long.
One of the most common methods to adding colour to a garden bed is to plant annuals. These are plants that live there entire growing season, seed to plant, in one single season. The entire plant and root system will die at the end of the year, leaving only barren ground in that location next spring. These are different to perennials, which will grow back for multiple seasons, springing up from the same root system that was utilized the year before.
So, back to annuals; there are two different styles you can plant in your yard. One style is a little more hardy than the other and can be planted earlier in the season. A couple examples of these cooler climate annuals could be primrose (Primula), pansies (Viola) and calendula– all of which have the ability to make it through a frost or two.
Once the weather has warmed up (post-Mother’s Day) we can start to introduce the less hardy annuals such as impatiens, marigolds and zinnia. These flowers, although very beautiful, are not as strong as the pansies and primroses that we discussed above. If planted too early, they will surely perish from the frost, so treat your mother to a nice meal then consider the marigolds.
Annuals have the ability to add so much vibrant colour and contrast to garden beds, flowering containers, hanging pots and boxes. This time of year at the Better Earth Garden Centre we have a wide variety of hanging baskets and boxes full of annuals that are already planted and set up for our customers to take straight home.
What is the best way to pick what annuals you want to decorate your property with? Come down to the garden centre and have a look. You can browse the selection we currently have in stock, and chat with our Better Earth Team of flower fanatics to decide what is the best fit for you. See you soon, and happy Mother’s Day to all those mothers reading!