Greeting Portland gardening friends,
Happy May Day! Happy Beltane! Happy Spring!
The daffodils and tulips that harkened the end of dreary cold winter are completing their cheery early blooming. The ornamental cherry and pear trees have given way to flowering dogwood in delightful shades of bright pink and creamy white. Lilac, wisteria, bleeding heart, rhododendron, and azalea flowers have arrived in their dazzling annual show. Trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, and perennials have all burst into lush shades of green.
Spring predictably and reliably arrives every year, and yet we are so thrilled and relieved when it is finally here. The Celtic season of Beltane arrives on May 1stand celebrates fertility and growth exploding all around us in the natural world. The word Beltane comes from old Gaelic and means “blazing fire” and Beltane is a fire festival.
For May Day children gave baskets of flowers to family, neighbors, and friends. All danced around the maypole. The maypole tradition is comes from the ancient Welsh. The seasonal holiday Beltane still has relevance to us in modern times. It is an excellent opportunity to take some time strolling in nature, get off the concrete and onto dirt or grass. Observe the spring unfolding all around us.
Bring some fragrant lilacs, tulips, or iris into your home or office. Visit a seasonal festival or botanical garden. In the Portland metro area we are close to The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival, The Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, Hulda Klager Lilac Garden, and Adelman Peony Farm. Clean out your pantry and donate to the local food bank. Light a candle and thank Mother Nature for her brightness and bounty during the return of spring.
Most years in May I am harvesting from my edible garden March planted vegetables. Due to our sudden move the first week in February we were a little later than usual with our planting. In mid-April we planted potatoes, 2 types of lettuce, 2 types of kale, collards, swiss chard, Florence fennel, scallions, sugar snap peas, meslun mix, mache/corn salad, dill, chamomile, chives, marjoram, cilantro, sage, and thyme. The butterhead lettuce and dill are about harvestable. It will be a wait for the rest.
Though we will most likely not see a frost during the month of May that does not mean it is time to plant all of your vegetable crops. Through May we continue to plant cool season vegetable crops.
Once night temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees, usually between May 15 and June 1st, then we can finally plant warm season crops. Remember, you do not get a jump start by planting warm season crops too early!!
PLANT THESE COOL SEASON CROPS THROUGHOUT MAY:
Broccoli & Broccoli Raab-starts
Brussels Sprouts (for fall harvest)-starts
Celeriac/Celery Root (for fall harvest)-seeds
Collards-seeds or starts
Florence Fennel-seeds or starts
Kale-seeds or starts
Kohlrabi-seeds or starts
Lettuce-seeds or starts
Mustard Greens-seeds or starts
Parsnips (for fall harvest)-seeds
Potatoes-certified seed potato tubers
Rutabaga (for fall harvest)-seeds
Scallions-seeds or starts
Salad Greens: arugula, cress, endive, mache radicchio-direct seed
Spinach-seeds or starts
Swiss Chard-seeds or starts
PLANT THESE WARM SEASON CROPS AFTER MAY 15TH:
Corn-seeds or starts
Pumpkins-seeds or starts
Summer Squash-seeds or starts
Sweet Potatoes-starts that are called slips
Winter Squash-seeds or starts
Zucchini-seeds or starts
Even though it is still too early to plant tomatoes, I mark their space in the garden with tomato cages. That way I don't get too overzealous planting cool season crops and don't save any space for warm season crops with later planting dates. I keep all of my unplanted raised bed soil covered with a frost blanket or cardboard to keep out the critters.
Be sure to tuck in several annual flowers in your edible garden. They help attract beneficial bugs. Some of my favorites: alyssum, calendula, cleome, cosmos, marigold, nasturtium, petunia, snapdragons, sunflower, zinnia. May is the ideal month for finding the best selection of annual bedding flowers.
Happy May and Happy Gardening,