The Watering Can: May—a time of tomatoes and blooming flowers

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Welcome to May 2024 from the Angle Tree Garden Club and The Watering Can column. On April18, the Angle Tree Garden Club of North Attleborough performed our spring cleanup of the gardens we maintain around town. We met at the herb garden behind the Woodcock Garrison House. Our Environmental Chair assigned us gardens to clean up and we split up into groups. Many members stayed at the herb garden, both members of many years and newer members. I did not work there but I am told there was a lot of laughs and hard work that happened.

The herb garden has been a garden the Angle Tree Garden Club has maintained for many years. It was started to complement the Woodcock Garrison House and the Little Red School House. The garden reflects the colonial era of these two buildings. As a garden club we have tried to put in many herbs there over the years but for some reason they do not last, even though they are perennials. One suspect is a resident woodchuck! This year we will plant again, tend the garden and see what happens! Please feel free to stop by and enjoy the beauty of this colonial era garden.

If you are in town, you will have noticed the work being done at the intersection of Routes 1 and 120. I was horrified when I saw the construction equipment parked around our Revolutionary War Garden! Our Environmental Chair has walked over there and said it seems the gas company is doing work near the garden. For now, we are not going to work cleaning up this garden as it is too dangerous! Hopefully we will be able to start the clean up soon.

May in southern New England – the average temperature range is 48-62 degrees and the monthly precipitation is 3.5”.  I have been working nonstop in my garden. My month of May tasks include taking care of my peonies. They need to be fed with 5-10-5 fertilizer when the maple trees flower and the peony shots are about 12” tall. Sprinkle ¼ cup of the fertilizer around the plant and scratch it in. Be careful not to let the fertilizer come in contact with the leaves. Water in thoroughly. I will fertilize them again after they have bloomed.

The daffodils and tulips are gorgeous right now. To make sure they are just as healthy next year, dead head the spring flowering bulbs, removing the flower heads as well as the stems. After these spring bulbs have flowered and you have removed the flower heads, fertilize them with superphosphate or bone meal and let the foliage die back naturally. Though unsightly, the leaves are manufacturing food for the bulbs, so they will bloom again next year. To camouflage the dying foliage, either braid the leaves or fold them over and tie them down with twist ties. Now is also the time to look at your spring bulb display and note where you would like to add more in the fall. Either take a picture or draw your display.

I always try to plant vegetables in my perennial border as they add color and texture. Here are some examples. Roses are more fragrant when parsley is planted nearby.  Strawberries have more flavor when they are planted with sage or thyme. Basil is a good companion to asparagus and tomatoes. Of course, planting swiss chard anywhere in the garden will not disappoint as the summer moves on.

Tomato plants can be set out at the end of May. They need warm soil and lots of bright sun. Temperatures below 50 degrees stunt tomato plants and result in a poor yield. They really need 65-85 degrees weather to develop properly.  Use a water-soluble fertilizer high in phosphorus. Be careful not to over-fertilize early in the season.

The next meeting of the Angle Tree Garden Club is on Thursday, May 16. We will be traveling to Araujo Farms in Dighton to make a porch pot, which is a pot of annuals which will last well into the fall. We will be carpooling to the farm.  If you would like to join us, please contact our Membership Chair Linda Everton at 508-212-1882 for more details.