A Note From Rick | The May Garden Beckons

May 17, 2022

By Kathleen Kennedy, Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens

It’s still too cool outside to plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers and the squashes, but there’s still plenty to do in May’s vegetable garden. Though too late for sowings of arugula, spinach and Asian greens, it’s a great time to make second sowings of beets, carrots, radishes and lettuce.

Our favorite leaf lettuce is tasty and dependable Tango, which has been popular with gardeners for years. We mix it with dark red Merlot for visual appeal. Leaf lettuce can be cut for harvest at the base, then fertilized and cut again after a couple weeks. We often get a third cutting, too.


Lettuce growing now includes Bibb and butter varieties

If you have plugs of head lettuce, like Bibb, butter, Iceberg and romaine, it’s time to plant them in the garden for harvest in a month or so. We enjoy growing the butter/romaine hybrids similar to Little Gem, the favorite lettuce of Europe and the star of many restaurant salads here. We find Newham easier to germinate and grow than Little Gem, but with the same compact heads of buttery, upright leaves. Perhaps the most beautiful and delicious head lettuce you will ever grow is Rosaine, a red-leaved version of Newham with streaks of cream and light green.

If you want a continuous harvest of lettuce, now is a good time to start plugs of summer or Batavian lettuce. These lettuces withstand the heat of summer without bolting and turning bitter. Muir is a good variety, also Concept. Both can be grown as leaf lettuce or as heads.


Brilliant yellow woad in the herb garden

More and more visitors are stopping by the Herb Garden as its first blooms appear. Woad, a member of the mustard family, is one of the first to bloom. The source of blue dye for centuries before the discovery of true indigo, woad’s 4-petalled yellow flowers have a honey-like fragrance and are frequented by bees and other pollinators.

Ajuga reptans, or bugleweed, appears in the dye, medicinal and ornamental beds. A popular ground cover, especially it’s purple-leaved forms, bugleweed yields a greenish dye and has been used to treat wounds and coughs. Look for its short spikes of blue flowers, a favorite of foraging bumblebees. Growing nearby in the medicinal bed is the diminutive English daisy, which can also be found in lawns and meadows. Its leaves offer another herbal treatment for wounds and are a forager’s delight in spring salads.

Look for more herbs like foxgloves, poppies, dill and lovage soon, followed by warm weather crops of basil, ginger and lemon grass. There’s always something interesting to see in the Herb Garden.

A new month means it’s time to fertilize the roses again. We fertilize once per month from April until August to keep plants vigorous and encourage repeat blooming. Soon our weekly organic spray program against black spot begins and continues throughout summer and fall.


Apple blossoms in the orchard now

We started another weekly spray program this spring in the orchard. With guidance from Paul Wagner of Greener Pastures Organics, we’re spraying the apples and pears with a mix of Neem oil, essential microbes and other ingredients to combat fungal diseases like scab. If you’re curious about this spray program, you may talk with Paul any Tuesday afternoon, from 3 - 4:30 pm. He’s our Lawn Expert, here to answer all your sustainable lawn and landscaping questions.


Daffodil 'Yellow Cheerfulness' with tall Leucojum and delicate Epimedium leaves in foreground

Though our early daffodils are fading, there are many other blooms to enjoy on your next visit. And more to come! Look for the large display of Leucojum or summer snowflake in the shade border, as well as Virginia bluebells and native columbine. Nearby, with pink and white blossoms, sweet crabapple, the native Malus coronaria, is stunning in May and a pleasure to sit under at any time of year. Redbuds, blueberries, strawberries, dwarf fothergilla and the whole orchard among others join the floral display. So, if you haven’t visited recently, make time to stop by soon and enjoy the beauty of spring.

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