As spring turns into summer, it’s time to turn your attention to your urban homestead and garden. For those residing in zones 6a, 6b, 7a, and 7b, May marks the start of a busy gardening season. This is THE busy season when it comes to gardening and homesteading with garden, livestock, and general maintenance piling up! With a little planning and elbow grease, you can ensure your homestead and garden are productive and beautiful all season long. From sowing seeds to maintaining your compost pile, there are plenty of essential tasks to tackle this month. In this article, we’ll cover some of the key May garden and urban homestead chores to help you make the most of this exciting time of year.
Let’s start with some gardening and homesteading checklists and then move on to resources to help you get the most out of your urban homestead and garden. This is a big month, with a big list, don’t get overwhelmed and check off what is applicable to your garden and urban homestead.
May Urban Homestead and Garden Chore Checklist
- Harden off seedlings – Gradually expose indoor seedlings to outdoor conditions over the first two weeks before transplanting. This helps them adjust to the outdoor environment and reduces transplant shock.
- Transplant seedlings – By Mother’s Day weekend, it’s typically safe to transplant seedlings outdoors in most regions. Make sure to plant them in nutrient-rich soil and provide adequate water and sunlight. You may think you can plant before Mother’s Day, but as my Great-Granny always said: ‘No’.
- Direct sow seeds – Sow 1/2 to 1/3 of your corn and bean seeds directly into the ground to ensure a succession harvest throughout the summer. Also, consider sowing a second group other succession veggies like beets and carrots.
- Watch for pests – Keep an eye out for common garden pests like cabbage worms, aphids, and squash vine borers, which can damage your plants. Consider using natural pest control methods like companion planting, neem oil, or insecticidal soap.
- Plant flowers to attract pollinators – Flowers like marigolds, zinnias, and cosmos attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, which help to fertilize your plants and increase yields. Marigolds also help deter pests and make your garden look pretty.
- Sow radishes – Sow radish seeds in between your other plants to help fill in empty spaces and deter pests like cucumber beetles. Radishes are fast-growing and can be harvested in as little as 30 days.
- Fertilize your plants – May is a good time to fertilize your plants with a slow-release fertilizer to provide them with the necessary nutrients for growth. You can also top dress with compost as you plant.
- Mulch your garden – Apply a layer of mulch around your plants to help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. I switched to pine straw for my beds. No weeds (from hay or straw) and according to several agricultural extensions the needles do not significantly acidify your soil! We use a wood mulch on flower beds and pathways that aren’t brick.
- Water wisely – As the weather heats up, it’s important to water your plants deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth. Consider using a soaker hose or drip irrigation system to conserve water and reduce evaporation. Seedlings are at their most tender and usually need some additional moisture to establish good root systems.
Urban Homestead Checklist:
- Clean out coop – If you didn’t get to this in April give your chickens a fresh start for the new season and make sure they have a clean and healthy environment.
- Clean out compost bins – turn and mix your compost to ensure proper decomposition and make room for new materials. We usually use 90% of our compost when prepping my beds. This is a great time to clean them out and repair any issues before filling them again throughout the growing months.
- Build infrastructure – take advantage of the mild weather and build new trellises, raised beds, or fencing before the summer heat sets in.
- Clean bedding and pack away clothes – pack up your winter clothes and bedding to make room for summer items. This is a wonderful time to line dry blankets and get that fresh spring smell into all your items before packing them away.
- Store winter tools – put away snow shovels, sleds, and other winter tools to free up space in your shed or garage. Don’t be like us and end up with a pile of dirty sleds behind the house in June.
- Start a worm bin – create a worm composting bin to help reduce food waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. It will be warm enough to get worms shipped to your house if you don’t have a local supply
- Check irrigation systems – If you didn’t get to this in April, inspect and repair any leaks or clogs in your irrigation system before the summer heat sets in. You will need the irrigation in May or June to get that garden rooted deeply enough to handle smaller droughts of rain.
- Mulch Paths- apply a layer of mulch to well used pathways to keep weeds at bay and reduce mud during spring rains.
- Start moving chicks outside – Depending on the temperature and when you got your chicks it may be time to start introducing them to the flock. Once they have enough feathers for warmth we move them to a sectioned off area of the run so they can see the flock for a week or two before learning to free range with the rest of the chickens.
- Maintain your livestock – If you have goats, bees, chickens, or other small livestock this is the time to check for mites, deworming, etc. Pests start coming out of the woodwork this time of year.
Resource List for May:
- Printable PDF of this Checklist
- Use our Seed Starting Calculator to ALSO plan out your Succession Planting
- Looking for a new Infrastructure Project? We have Composting Fence v1 and Composting Fence v2 OR a nifty goat wire trellis tutorial
- Here is a lovely article from The Living Farm on how to harden off your seedlings in 7 days or less!
May is a busy time for urban homesteaders and gardeners, but with a little planning and effort, you can ensure a bountiful harvest and a healthy, thriving homestead. Use this checklist and resource list to help guide your efforts and make the most of this exciting time of year. Happy gardening and homesteading!