Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Northern & Central Midwest

May, 2001
Regional Report

Evaluate Your Bulbs

As bulb season is passing, it\'s a good time to evaluate your bulb display while it\'s still fresh in your mind. It\'s too early to move anything, but you can mark the bulbs you want to dig and move this fall with an indelible marker on sturdy stakes. After the foliage has died, dig the bulbs and dry them for a couple of months before fall planting.

Prune Spring-Flowering Shrubs

Prune spring-flowering shrubs such as lilac, forsythia, and spirea after they finish blooming. By pruning now, you'll give them time to set next year's flower buds this summer. Don't just shear the outer edge of the plant, but remove interior branches and side branches to keep the natural shape of the shrub.

Mow Lawns Correctly

Mow your lawn through the summer to a height of 3 inches tall. Mow often enough so that you remove no more than 1/3 of the leaf blade with each mowing. This avoids clumps of unsightly dead grass clippings. Leave clippings on the lawn to improve the soil and fertilize the grass.

Plant Warm-Season Veggies

It's time to plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, sweet potato, and other warm-season crops around Memorial Day. These plants need warm soil to thrive, so setting them out earlier will actually set them back and reduce their yields. Fertilize them with compost or composted manure when you do set them out.

Keep Composting

With all your other gardening activities this time of year, it's easy to forget the compost bin. The garden should be generating weeds and trimmings by now, so build a new pile, alternating layers of soil, garden waste, and kitchen waste. Add a little manure occasionally to help heat it up well, and keep the pile moist but not soggy.


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