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Spring Planting & Gardening in Maine

Here in Maine, May marks the beginning of the prime planting season as the weather warms up. We are all crossing our fingers that the last frost of the season has come and gone. While we are all anxiously waiting, a common rule for gardening is waiting until after Mothers Day to plant your seedlings and plants to avoid any run-ins with frost. 

One thing you can get started on sooner rather than later (but after the ground has thawed) is prepping your soil. A healthy soil is rich in organic matter and nutrients and has proper drainage. This means that unless you are adding organic matter to your garden beds you may need to supplement with compost every couple of years. If this is your first go at a garden in your space OR if you haven’t had much luck in the past I recommend doing a soil test, these are free or very affordable and give you insight into which plants may do better in a specific area of your yard if you are using local soil. Check out Maine University's website for more information about soil testing. 

Excited to get planting!? Here are some plants that you can start planting in your garden during May:

Cool-Season Vegetables: May is a great time to plant cool-season vegetables in Maine. This includes crops like lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, peas, carrots, radishes, and broccoli. These vegetables thrive in the cooler temperatures of early spring.

Herbs: Many herbs can be planted in May in Maine. This includes popular herbs like parsley, cilantro, dill, chives, (lemon) thyme, oregano, and sage. Herbs are often resilient and can be grown in containers or directly in the ground.

Perennials: May is also a good time to plant perennial flowers in Maine. Some options include daylilies, hostas, astilbes, coral bells, peonies, and perennial geraniums. Be sure to choose varieties that are suitable for your specific growing zone.

Annual Flowers: You can start planting annual flowers in May to add color and vibrancy to your garden. Consider planting flowers like marigolds, petunias, iris, impatiens, zinnias, cosmos, and snapdragons. These flowers will bloom throughout the summer and into fall.

Root Vegetables: Root vegetables like potatoes, beets, turnips, and onions can be planted in May. Make sure the soil has warmed up sufficiently before planting these crops.

Fruit Trees and Flowering Bushes: If you're interested in planting fruit trees or bushes, May can be a good time to do so. This is also a great time to scope out the bushes or trees that you'd like to add to your garden. Often these are the first blooms we see and get to enjoy in the early spring! Who doesn’t love a stunning Forsythia!? Options for Maine include apple trees, cherry trees, blueberry bushes, and raspberry bushes. Make sure to choose varieties that are well-suited to your climate.

Bulbs: While many bulbs are planted in the fall for spring blooms, some bulbs can still be planted in the spring. Consider planting bulbs like dahlias, gladiolus, and lilies for summer and fall blooms.  One of my favorite perennial flower farms in Maine, Backyard Blooms, is a great resource when looking to establish a thriving and beautiful flower garden, especially if you have interest in Dahlia’s. 

When planting in May, be sure to check the specific planting instructions for each plant variety and consider factors like soil conditions, sunlight exposure, and watering needs. Additionally, it's important to monitor the weather forecast and protect young plants from any late frosts or extreme temperature fluctuations.

Most importantly, remember why you wanted a garden or flower bed! They are beautiful but they are a lot of work. The payoffs for the local bees, butterflies and eco-system is invaluable! So even when it seems daunting keep at it - the benefits are there and the beauty is coming! Remember to include loved ones to make the time spent outside even more enjoyable. Best of luck to you this planting season!


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