May

Solanum lycopersicum (tomato flower) and
Anthophora californica (ground bee)
What's Growin On In May


Our zone is so diverse that some of us are begging for rain and the others are wishing it would stop. Whichever way it is for us, the balance of good and bad is enough to make the annual effort worth it.

The average high temperature for May is 95 F and average low is 69 F. The average rainfall drops to about an eighth of an inch total for the month with an average of one rainy day occurring during this month.

The average humidity in our area for May is 22%, with a morning average of 27% and afternoon low of 13%.

Keep an eye out for predatory insect in all growth stages.  If none are around, then treat pest problems early. The longer you wait, the more they spread and the harder they will be to get rid of. Aphids can take an especially hard toll on a garden.  Getting rid of ants is a first step in prevention of aphid farming and colonization.

During the months of  March, April and May guava, coffee and olives may be blooming.

In May and June, soursop flowers heavily, but generally flowers year-round. Soursop fruit can be harvested when the spines set further apart and the skin coloring dulls and/or changes to a yellow-green color. Selective pruning can be done to maintain an open shape to promote healthy growth.

During the months of May, June, July and August mamey sapote may bloom.

Divide and Conquer:

Everything should have been divided up in winter months and have started the new growing season.

Feeding:
Theobroma cacao 'Criollo'

In April, May, June, July, August and September, apply iron to black sapote and mamey sapote if the leaves look a little yellow.

In April, May, June, July, August and September, apply soluble fertilizer OR compost rich top dressing to cacao tree and mamey sapote every six weeks.  Apply a soluble fertilizer to cinnamon tree, mango and coffee arabica every six weeks.

In May, fertilize blueberries with an acid fertilizer like rhodendron or azalea formulation if they are looking weak.

May, June, July, August, September apply micronutrients to atemoya and mamey sapote.

Help reduce the potential of fire blight on apple and pear trees by using a low nitrogen fertilizer.

Vaccinium x 'Sunshine Blue' 
Harvesting:

We currently have a consistent supply of alliums and herbs to cut and come again almost year round.

April or May, guava may become ripe. The guava is ripe when the color changes from bright green to a softer yellow green and maybe even a pink hue with a slightly soft feel, much like an avocado.  A ripe guava scent becomes musky, sweet and 'penetrating'.

In May, June or July rambutans may be ripe.  Rambutans are ripe when the rounded part is a bright yellow, orange or red color (depending on variety)and the spikes are still green. When the spikes become black, they are overripe.

Mangos may bear fruit in May, June, July August and September.

May, June, July and August may be the time to harvest blueberries, depending on the variety.

May, June, July, August and September may be the time to harvest Sapodilla.

For vegetables, beans, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumber, onions, peppers and tomatoes will still be producing. Many of these can straggle along for an extended period if shaded, watered and fertilized properly.

Mulching:

Thymus citriodorus
Mulch all plants heavily to reduce moisture loss. It is probably too late to seed a live mulch and give it time to get decent root growth, but it can't hurt to try.

Consider a living mulch, which is a compatible plant that helps keep the roots moist, doesn't compete with the plant root system and keeps the bad weeds at bay.  A great nitrogen fixer or a compatible type of plant for a wide range of plants is the white clover. This is a huge win for beekeepers as it is a multi-duty solution.

Planting:

You still have time to plant heat loving flowers, such as Hamelia (which attracts hummingbirds), sunflowers, globe amaranth or any of the many types of wonderful zinnias. 'Blue Point' zinnia is great for cutting.

Laurus nobilis 'LNSS'
Pruning:

In April, May, June, July and August selectively prune mamey sapote for desirable height, shape and well balanced development.  Cut off branches that are less or more than 45 degree angle from the main trunk.

May is a great time to make successive runs at trimming the bay laurel trees for topiary shapes.  A great opportunity for harvesting some fresh bay.

The best time to prune rambutan is at the time of harvest. Prune rambutan to maintain a relatively short height and 3 or 4 main limbs well spaced.  Remove dried branches, water suckers and crossed branches.

The general rule of pruning is to never remove more than 1/4 of the total plant. Always use sharp, sterile, quality pruning tools and disinfect them between cuts to prevent the spread of disease. Rodale has an excellent article on garden tool maintenance.

During spring and summer months, combat fire blight through pruning, if necessary.

Sowing:
Solanum lycopersicum
'Principe Borghese'

Start seeds of peppers and tomatoes in containers for later planting (in July) for the fall garden. Direct seed vegetables like okra, melons, amaranth, beans, black-eyed peas, winter squash, and pumpkins. Plant sweet potato slips now, too.

Sunning:

Solarize empty garden beds: Cover them with clear plastic for a month or two to kill nematodes and weed seeds and pathogens in the soil.

Ficus carica 'Peter's Honey'
Shading:

Break out the 30% shade cloth to protect the garden bounty from the solar heat.

April and May are the months to paint the vulnerable tree trunks such as avocadocitrusblack sapotepersimmon and fig. Latex paint or latex paint and water mixture preferred. White is the standard, but people paint their tree trunks all sorts of colors.  The purpose of painting tree trunks is to prevent temperature change damage.


Water:

If your using an easy watering solution, such as the Global bucket system, flush out the water, if possible. If you're looking for a self watering system, there are several DIY plans available online. Global buckets started with one design and now hosts several designs for self watering containers.

In our area, the water has a higher mineral salt content.  Ensure plants are watered deeply at least once a week to get the salts away from the root zones.