May Gardening Thoughts
by Wilma Stanton, Master Gardener
Welcome to the month of May. May Day always reminds me of the times when I used to deliver May baskets and beautiful flowers to neighbors, friends and relatives. We should do more of this today and it would be great.
The month of May has several yearly activities that we all enjoy or participate in. The National Day of Prayer is May 3 and, of course, May 5 is Cinco de Mayo. Mother's Day is May 13 and Ramadan begins on May 15. Armed Forces Day is May 19 and last, but not least, Memorial Day is May 28 followed by a full moon on May 29.
If you purchase any plants, be sure and keep them well watered until they become established. More roses are lost during their early growing period than at any other time. When our last frost is over, plant black -eyed peas, cabbages, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and wax and green beans. If you have any sycamore or maple trees, give them iron sulfate. Fertilize your new roses when they start vigorous growth.
When the nights warm, put some of your houseplants outside. Plant marigolds and zinnias when the soil is warm. Be sure to fertilize the spring bulbs you have. Clip blooms from your herbs.
If your oriental poppy or your larkspur have bloomed, remove the dead blossoms. This way, you should have another round of blooms. Late freezes may cause a problem on some of your roses. Cut them back as if they had bloomed, to a complete five-leaf cut leaf.
By the way, if you plant corn, plant it in squares for better pollination. If your mint grows too tall, cut it back with hedge clippers and use the cut stems and leaves as mulch.
Recently, I have seen many trees really in need of water at places where people do lots of irrigating, but for some reason they neglect their trees. Also, some people water their trees, but not where they should water them. At the base, the large roots under the canopy of the tree do not absorb much water. There are roots under the dripline of the tree. This is where the water drips from the ends of the branches to the ground during a rain. It is drier under the canopy because the tree directs the water to the drip-line. The soil under the dripline of a tree is a good place to irrigate. However, the roots of a tree extend to well beyond the ends of the branches and should be irrigated. Tree roots can extend 4 or more times the height of a tree from the trunk. It is not necessary to water the entire extent of the roots, but a large portion should be irrigated.
Trees that have been on their own, without water, may have a more extensive root system than trees regularly watered. This is because the roots adapt to the watering when they are irrigated. Remember, that during a drought situation, trees need water, but it must be done properly. In New Mexico, when you are doing your landscaping, consider the types of trees to plant with our limited lack of moisture.
As our summer gardening is getting into full swing, be sure and include your whole family in your gardening activities. The results will be better and the lasting memories will be wonderful.