All parts of the region should be frost free by the first of the month, so feel free to put in your tender annuals, vegetables and annual herbs such as basil. The weeds are also feeling the push of the warm soil and will start to take off, so keep them under control when they are small. They are much more stubborn the bigger they get. Use mulch around your new plantings to keep the weeds away and conserve moisture.
• Set out annual transplants now, or plant seeds directly in the garden. Seek out some New England natives that will reseed for a natural looking bed. Some examples are bee balm, pennyroyal and rock harlequin.
• Fertilize annuals every 4 weeks for good bloom production.
• Later blooming bulbs can be planted in June.
• Sow seeds of nasturtiums and zinnias directly in the ground.
• Remove newest shoots from geranium plants to encourage bushy growth.
• Divide and transplant spring-flowering perennials that have finished blooming.
• Pinch back mums and asters to make them bushy, increase the number of flowers, and reduce the need for staking.
• When early blooming perennials such as catmint, hardy geraniums, lady’s mantle, dianthus, delphiniums, and salvia have finished flowering, cut back the faded flowers to promote a second, smaller flush of blooms later in the season.
• Divide Dutch irises right after they finish blooming, if needed. Remove the flowers stalks and cut the fans of leaves down to about six inches.
• Peppers and eggplants should be staked as they can get top heavy and topple when they are loaded with ripening fruits.
• Stake or cage tomatoes when they are small so you don’t disturb the roots.
• Onions don’t do well with competition from weeds so keep your onion bed well weeded, but be sure not to disturb the onions’ shallow roots in the process. Give onions a dose of a low-nitrogen soluble fertilizer such as fish emulsion when the tops are about 6 inches tall and again just as they begin to bulb up.
• Plant heat tolerant and bolt resistant varieties of Summer crisp lettuce, also called ‘French Crisp’ or ‘Batavian’.
• Protect cole crops (cabbage, broccoli, kale) from egg-laying cabbage white butterflies with floating row cover.
• Now that the soil is warm enough to activate microbes, you can apply compost, manure, fish emulsions and blood and bone meal in the garden.
• Sow seeds of fast-growing, heat-loving herbs and vegetables (basil, squash, melons) directly in the ground.
• Make small successive plantings of lettuce, beans, beets, chard, radishes, cilantro, dill, and basil for a continued harvest.
• The more we pick, the more these veggies will produce. Snip or snap off sugar and garden peas as the pods fill. Remove summer squashes while they are still small, tender, and tasty.
• Remove spent blooms from early flowering shrubs and shrub roses to improve the appearance of the shrub and encourage faster re-bloom.
• Prune spring flowering shrubs and trees immediately after they stop blooming to avoid cutting off next year’s flower buds. Apply a liquid or slow release granular fertilizer and water in well after pruning.
• Fertilize hybrid tea roses, grandiflora, and floribunda roses about once a month into July. Timing of applications should correspond to the completion of bloom cycles.
• Thin out small green fruits on apple, pear, and plum trees to one every 6 inches on the branch.
• Feed rhododendrons and azaleas with an acid fertilizer now to keep the foliage from yellowing, or work cottonseed meal into the surrounding soil.
• Mow frequently, never cutting more than a third of the grass’ height at one time.
• Keep the lawn at about 2.5 inches or more to conserve water and encourage good root growth. Water only when the turf is dry.