The Dutiful Homesteader: May

First chore: Set out summer plants grown from seed

peppers growing strong

If you couldn’t do this last month, then I know how excited you must be right now. It’s time! And your babies have been very patient too so at the first sign of warmer weather, set them outside so they can get ready to be planted in their new home. Be particularly careful with anything in the tomato family; making sure the nights don’t go below the mid-fifties. To harden off, take at least a week to set them out (in partial shade at first) for a few hours. Work it up to full sun all day long and finally ending with an overnight stay. Then get ta planting!

Next chore: Plant more perennials and annuals

You gave the soil a boost last month by adding compost and found a great deal at the local nursery, and now it’s time to plant! But this time we’re going the aesthetic route by adding things that will make your homestead dazzling. Go for things that bring in more color and think about the arrangement; adding things with more height toward the back and low-growing plants toward the front.

Another good tip is to plant herbs for landscaping bushes and ground covers. They pull double duty by making your home not only look beautiful but smell wonderful too. Mmm, mmm!

This site has an excellent and extensive library of plants to grow according to the zone you’re in.

Next chore: Tend to your homestead

roses all a glimmer

If you planted strawberries then you are probably at the point where you need to thin them back (keep a few runners for replanting). If you have a rose bush-lined driveway then you’ll need to prune the budding beauties to keep them in shape and blooming (bring a few inside for your dining room table). If you have fruit trees then thinning out the fruit helps them stay strong, keeps limbs from breaking and produces larger fruit (don’t forget to compost). And you’ll need to tidy up around the yard with more mulch, edging, weeding and trimming (watch the neighbors try to keep up with you). As springtime continues to unfold, show your homestead a little loving care. It never looked so good!

 Next chore: Stick to a house cleaning schedule

The entire cleaning schedule that I use breaks it down to a daily, weekly, monthly, biannual and annual schedules, so that housework doesn’t leave me feeling beat up. So I took out the once-a-month portion and added it here. Remember, you’re just trying to stay ahead, not be perfect.

Monthly: Clean out the microwave, oven and fridge. Wipe down the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Wipe down towel racks, toilet paper holders, hooks and other fixtures. Dust the laundry area/room. Vacuum upholstered furniture. Dust behind TV. Wipe down doorknobs, light switches, windowsills and baseboards.

Extra for this month: clear out any cobwebs from every room. And wash/hose down the outside of your house and other buildings.

 Next chore: Blanch and freeze the cool-weather bounty

As your fall and winter harvesting begins to wind down, you know that you have to use them up quick (especially greens that can turn bitter) because the warm weather can have a serious effect on them. Here’s something to consider: Harvest all of it, blanch and freeze it. Now you have the space to re-seed with summer varieties. Visit pickyourown.org for some excellent how-to tips. Or take it a step further by cooking up freeze-ahead meals!

 Final chore: What to plant this month

a garden that can breathe

If you used these simple coverings it’s probably time to take them off. Just like the seedlings that are hardening off right now, it’s time to let everything breathe.

This planting schedule assumes you are in zone 8 or 9 and practice succession planting… so you may also see the same items listed on other months.

Seed or plant the following: Snap Beans, Basil, Carrots, Chard, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Melons, Peppers, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkins, Soybean/Edamamme, Summer and Winter Squash, Tomatoes, Watermelon.

Resources

The Farmer Fred Rant
Dummies.com
Fine Gardening Plant Guide
The Weekend Homesteader Series (amazon.com books)
Real Simple
Martha Stewart Living
ohmygarden.com (blog)
pickyourown.org