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Published May 18, 2015, 11:59 AM

Growing Together: 50 tips for May gardening

I enjoy our weekly visits so much it's difficult for me to choose between the many possible topics. This week, 50 pieces of timely May information floated in my head, and each could make an entire essay. Because I couldn't decide, here are all 50 age-old gardening tidbits in bite-size form.

By: Don Kinzler , Forum News Service

FARGO -- I enjoy our weekly visits so much it's difficult for me to choose between the many possible topics. This week, 50 pieces of timely May information floated in my head, and each could make an entire essay. Because I couldn't decide, here are all 50 age-old gardening tidbits in bite-size form.

1. New asparagus and rhubarb plantings should grow two full seasons before harvesting the third year.

2. If late spring frost threatens, cloth or newspaper protect better than plastic sheeting.

3. A mixture of three parts linseed oil to one part turpentine protects and gives new life to old wooden garden tool handles.

4. Before seed racks sell out, purchase lettuce, spinach, radish, beets and kale for a second crop in late summer.

5. Remove blossoms of new strawberry plants the first season to encourage well-developed plants. Good strawberries come to those who wait.

6. Buy tomato plants with deep green leaves. Plants with yellowish leaves will recover when fertilized, but they're delayed.

7. Vegetable and flower transplants grow faster if water-soluble starter fertilizer is added when planting.

8. Weeding can be as addictive as eating potato chips while weeds are tiny.

9. Cultivating soil just as weeds are sprouting is downright rewarding.

10. As radish seedlings emerge, thin quickly to an inch apart, or they'll grow into tops and no bottoms.

11. Excess nitrogen and hot weather cause similar radish problems.

12. Lawns produce deep roots with 1 inch of moisture once per week from rain or sprinkling.

13. Two different apple varieties within bee-flight distance are needed for best fruit set. Flowering crabapples work.

14. Amend soil for blueberries with peat moss before planting, rather than afterward.

15. To experiment with blueberries, choose varieties Northblue, Northsky, Northcountry, St. Cloud or Polaris.

16. Try the relatively new, hardy fruiting shrub called honeyberry, or haskap.

17. Juneberry, the "blueberry of the North," serves double-duty as a large, hardy, screening shrub.

18. Clematis vines take several years to develop a well-filled trellis.

19. Mulching the clematis root zone provides cool, moist soil clematis love.

20. Pinch the central growing point of clematis shoots in May and the number of shoots will double.

21. Many roses labeled "hardy" aren't very winter hardy.

22. Choose Canadian rose varieties from local garden centers. They're hardiest.

23. Pinch tip shoots of perennial chrysanthemums in May and June to double plant size.

24. Peonies can remain in place for a century as long as they're blooming fine.

25. Consider real flowers for Memorial Day, although sometimes silk are the only option.

26. Potting soil in outdoor containers can be reused many times, but replace about a third with fresh each spring.

27. Flowers growing in containers by the front door create a welcoming focal point for the front landscape.

28. Group three flowerpots of different heights for extra impact.

29. Use odd numbers of threes or fives in landscape plantings. They're naturally restful and less "blocky" than even quantities.

30. Fertilize outdoor geraniums once a week. They're heavy feeders.

31. Geraniums grow best outdoors in their own pot. Locate filler-type flowers in separate pots alongside.

32. When planting annuals from cell packs, pinch off first flowers to create stronger plants.

33. If you're not ready to plant items you've bought, locate them in a sheltered spot outdoors, rather than in the garage.

34. Trees and shrubs can be fertilized in early summer, but stop before July 4.

35. When planting trees and shrubs, slice the root ball in four spots to sever circling roots.

36. Remove tree wraps in spring. Replace in fall.

37. Prune hedges so the base is wider than the top to maintain lower foliage.

38. Check mature width of new shrubs. They look so cute until they overgrow their spot.

39. Young trees grow more quickly if grass is kept away with a 3 foot circle of mulch.

40. Evergreen shrubs look naturally pleasing if not pruned into tight cone-shapes.

41. Houseplants vacationing outdoors prefer shade with a little filtered morning sun.

42. Foliage must remain on tulips until it dies back naturally.

43. More young trees are killed by cumulative damage from mowers, trimmers and weed overspray than all diseases combined.

44. Spring-planted garlic doesn't grow very large. Fall-planting is the norm.

45. Uniform soil moisture and mulch help prevent tomato blossom end dry rot.

46. For main crop tomatoes, choose varieties listed as 65 to 75 days on labels.

47. Tomato varieties requiring 90 to 100 days are late for our area.

48. Peony blossoms don't require ants to open.

49. Lilacs can be pruned right after bloom, so you don't lose a year of flowering.

50. Whew! Time to stop and smell the lilacs.

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, worked as an NDSU Extension horticulturist and owned Kinzler's Greenhouse in Fargo. Tune in to his weekly radio segment from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Fridays on WDAY Radio 970. Readers can reach him at forumgrowingtogether@hotmail.com.

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