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Gardening Program
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Background Information

  Third Grade
3 Sisters Garden
Plant a new lawn
    Monthly Garden Calendar        


1. PLANT corn, squash, cucumber, and melon seeds when the soil temperature is at least 65 degrees. (Measure soil temperature with a soil thermometer.) This is usually late May. For a 2 month harvest of sweet corn, plant early, mid-season, and late-season varieties. Make 2 plantings of each variety 2 weeks apart (also beans and hot weather greens).

2. Except for the preceding seeds, PLANT just about everything else outdoors after May 10 when there is little danger of frost... sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias, gladiolus corms, canna rhizomes, and tuberous begonia tubers, etc. Cool soil helps carrot, lettuce, and parsley seeds sprout. Hill up the soil around carrots and potatoes when they are 2-3 inches high.

3. Be careful about working soil in the garden. If it is too wet, it will dry in large, hard clumps and ruin the soil texture. Test the soil by squeezing a handful. Then try pushing a finger into it. If it stays in a lump like modeling clay, it is too wet. If it crumbles, it is ready to dig. Dig new flower beds and gardens when the weather and soil moisture permit.

4. ALL PLANTS ARE GROWING RAPIDLY. Pull weeds before they take over. Feed vegetables and ornamentals with organic fertilizer.

5. HARDEN OFF newly purchased seedlings or those started indoors before planting them outdoors. A week before planting, leave them outside for a couple of hours on the first day. Gradually increase the time they are exposed to the sun, wind, and cool temperatures. Leave them outside a few nights as long as temperatures are above 40 degrees. Hardening off is not necessary if you purchase plants from Everdina - she sells her plants hardened off. Tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers may need protection with hotcaps on cool nights.

6. Install PLANT SUPPORTS while plants are still young.

7. Keep any newly planted TREES AND SHRUBS well watered. Prune suckers off crabapples and other fruit trees, white poplars, chokecherry, lilacs, and American lindens. Suckers can be dug up to make new plants. However, suckers from grafted plants, which include most fruit trees, will not be identical to the parent plant.

8. Pinch MUMS (chrysanthemums) until July 4 for bushier plants with more flowers. Remove flowers on any STRAWBERRIES planted this year. This diverts energy into root development which is good for production later on.

9. Reseed bare patches in your LAWN. Keep them watered. Mow lawns to a height of about 2 inches. Leave clippings right on the lawn. If you must remove them, they make good mulch for flower and vegetable gardens, provided you have an organic lawn.

10. INDOOR PLANTS should be fertilized once a month with a soluble organic fertilizer like fish emulsion or liquid seaweed. Constant watering result in many nutrients being washed out of the soil.

11. Do not remove FOLIAGE FROM DAFFODILS, TULIPS, OR OTHER BULBS until it has turned completely brown and pulls off easily. The foliage is needed to nourish the bulbs. If tulips have been in the ground 2-3 years, and are leggy or blooming poorly, dig them up and discard. Tulips last only a few years.

12. EASTER LILY plants can be planted about 4 inches deep in a sunny spot. They should bloom again in July. Mulch in the fall. Digging up the bulbs in the fall and keeping them in a cool dry place is a better way to ensure you will have Easter lilies blooming again next year.


  •  Daylight increases at 2-4 minutes per day.
  • May 10-12 is M.U.M.’s EcoFair.


  • May 4 - Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower. Visible in the southeastern predawn sky at a rate of 20/hour. Associated with Halley’s Comet.

  • May 26 - Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon. Moon enters penumbra @ 6:13 A.M. (CDT) and leaves @ 9:54 A.M. Visible in most of North America except the northeast and the Pacific Ocean. The end is visible in southwestern Alaska and the Pacific Ocean. Sunlight on the moon’s surface will scarcely be diminished.

Moon Phases

  • May 4 - Last Quarter @ 2:16 A.M.
  • May 12 - New Moon @ 5:45 A.M.
  • May 19 - First Quarter @ 4:42 P.M.
  • May 26 - Full Moon @ 6:51 A.M.

Visible Planets
A true spectacle of the planets, the year’s best, adorns the western sky in the fading twilight from May 1-16. Dazzling Venus floats close to dim, orange Mars. Higher up are bright Mercury and medium bright Saturn. Much higher up is brilliant Jupiter. The planets are bunched in Taurus. Venus and Mars are extremely close on the 10th and clearly visible to the naked eye. The icing on the cake is the crescent moon which hovers between Mercury and Saturn on the 13th and near Venus and Mars on the 14th.

Gardening in Iowa and Surrounding Areas, Veronica Fowler with the Federated Garden Clubs of Iowa. pp. 46-48. University of Iowa Press. 1997.

Organic Gardening Magazine, Almanac, p. 58. A Rodale Publication. May/June 2000.

The Old Farmer’s 2002 Almanac, pp. 56 and 76. Yankee Publishing Incorporated.

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