Thursday, May 3, 2012

May in the Garden

Rhododendron and Columbine blooms, and Cotoneaster berries almost ready for the Robins
May is a month that brings such delight in the garden, and the beauty of new spring-green leaves and lush flowers is beyond words.  It's also a time when I am typically brimming with hopes for a good season, both in gardening and baseball, and this year is no exception!

Though I can't provide answers on how to ensure a good baseball season (except to remember that every game is a new chance to win), I can provide some tips on how to have a good gardening season...


1.  Get ahead of the weeds: They are growing just as fast as your other plants, and removing and/or smothering them now is your best chance to prevent your soil from becoming a "weed seed bank" for years to come. Shotweed is my personal nemesis at my p-patch plot, and dandelions in my parking strip.  If you see weeds begin to flower or set seed, even if you don't have time to dig them out that day, stop and take a few minutes to nip off their flower heads!

Wren nest

2.  Put up a nest box for expert pest control while relaxing in your hammock: Cavity-nesting birds like Chickadees and Wrens are some of the best aphid-eaters on the planet, and when their young are peeping loudly, they will do a thorough pest-patrol of the entire area around their nest to satisfy their needs.  If you want your entire garden to be free from aphids, putting up a nest box is an excellent place to start!  In our urban and suburban neighborhoods, there are very few standing dead trees for cavity-nesters to build in, so a properly-built nest box mimics a tree cavity and instantly attracts these beneficial (and sweetly-singing) birds.  Build your own using info from Russell Link's excellent book "Landscaping for Wildlife in the PNW", or from his instructions on the WA Dept of Fish & Wildlife site:

3. City Fruit's Tip of the Month:  Fruit tree expert Don Ricks predicts that the codling moth will begin flying the second week of May.  This pest can greatly damage Apple, Pear and Plum trees, and Don recommends adding a new non-toxic weapon to your prevention strategies:  Codling moth mating disruption.
How does mating disruption work?
The female codling moth releases a specific chemical, a pheromone, that attracts the male moth. The male moth can detect extremely small amounts of the this pheromone and will fly to locate the source, the female, in order to mate.  Mating disruption dispensers release this same pheromone and, when placed properly in the upper third of the tree canopy well before the earliest moth emergence, they inhibit the ability of the male moth to locate and mate with the female.  Mating will be reduced, the number of codling moth eggs laid in the orchard will be reduced, and the number of "worms" in your fruit will be reduced.
The full article can be viewed at, and here is a link to one of the products recommended there:

It's a good time to get started planning your apple maggot strategies too:
Visit to read "Apple Maggot Control for the Backyard Orchard" - a good summary of how to make sticky traps to monitor the flies, and how to apply the "footies" when the fruit has reached golf-ball-size.  The nylon footies keep the flies from being able to smell the fruit (because they use their feet to smell!) and therefore prevent them from laying eggs on it.

Last but not least, take a break from your gardening and come to a spring celebration!

The Swallows are back at Magnuson Park- come celebrate International Migratory Bird Day event on Saturday May 12th from 10am-3pm!  Our monthly Family Wetland Walk begins at 10am and we typically have plenty of room for drop-ins, but for this walk you'll need to pre-register as it will likely fill up in advance.  For all the details on the entire day of walks, lectures, activities for children, and more, including the dedication of the new Shore Ponds Wetlands, visit

Best wishes for a great month,