Virginia Home Grown →

Time at Home Provides Opportunity in the Garden

A tray full of small green seedlings, planted using toilet paper rolls.
The soil will get warmer in May, and make your seedlings happily grow.

With warmer soil and plenty of sunshine, those April showers do bring May flowers, herbs and vegetables!

Yellow squash begins to grow from the base of the plant with large, flat green leaves.
May is a great time in Virginia to plant summer staples like yellow squash.

The month of May is the best time to plant tomatoes, peppers, okra, sweet potatoes, watermelon, squashes and beans.

Fresh green basil pesto is stirred into a glass jar.
Make homemade pesto with basil right from your herb garden.

In the herb garden, plant all of those wonderful heat loving plants such as rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender and basils, a favorite of mine is Lemon Thai Basil. Lemon Thai Basil tastes great on chicken and in broths plus is adds a kick to pesto. While Italian Large Leaf and Sweet Basil are favorites for pesto try mixing it up with Cinnamon, Lemon or Red Rubin Basil. Basil is known to provide many health benefits and freshly grown herbs are always the best source, including basil. I grow the plants in containers making it readily available for my Margherita pizzas.

The herb thyme grows in a planter box, characterized by small green leaves..
Fresh thyme can be used in savory dishes and teas.

I enjoy fresh herbs, particularly in my tea. Consider growing a tea garden with herbs such as Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Mint, Fennel, Rosemary, Thyme and many more. Like everything else, always research each herb to exact the best flavor from each and to reap the benefits as well.

When choosing plants for your landscape, be sure to include local native plants in your cart. Not only do they benefit pollinators and the ecosystem, but when sited properly - right plant right place - Virginia native plants are more drought tolerant and tend to have fewer insect issues. Each region of Virginia is host to specific plants, and over the past few years professionals have written guides specific to each region that are available online on the Virginia Native Plant Society's website. Use this resource to learn how we can collectively make a difference one yard at a time.

May is a month of transition in the garden, and as small plants and seedlings mature in the warming sun, so do weeds. Reduce the number of weeds in the garden by planting closely in wide beds rather than rows so plants shade the soil, reducing weed seed germination. Mulching the vegetable garden generously with straw, compost, grass clippings, leaves, or other organic matter at the beginning of the month will save hours of work as the season progresses. In the border, mulching with pine tags, bark mulch, or hardwood mulch will achieve the same goal. Keeping plants healthy by reducing weed competition and providing nutrients via slow release products will ensure success all season long.

A push-style lawnmower sits on a lawn, with a bag to collect grass clippings attached.
Regular maintenance on your mower ensures the best performance from your tool and a sharp cut, which is optimum for healthy grass.

The best management practices for lawn care starts with the tools you use. Measure your lawn to ensure the right amount of product is applied, submit a soil sample for testing to learn exactly what needs to be applied and then follow the directions on the labels of all products used, whether organic or traditional it’s the law. Be sure to keep all products off of walkways and roadways to reduce what is going into the water system. Finally, service your mower and weed eater, including sharpening your blades on a regular basis for optimum performance and the best cut.

Celebrate the month of May; it is a beautiful month filled with flowers, harvests and sunshine!