Each USDA planting zone has its own seed sowing program. If you are new to the vegetable garden, here is a gardening checklist by Month for Hardiness Zones 5b-6a that the everyday gardener from zone 5 to zone 6 can do. Of course, the time of outdoor tasks depends on.
- Check out garden catalogs and stores for seeds. Start seeds indoors for summer flowers.
- Prune fruit trees and late flowering deciduous shrubs. Snip back lateral and side branches of wisteria to within two or three buds.
- Knock heavy snowfall from bushes, hedges, and evergreens to prevent damage.
- Keep bulbs in containers, lightly watered to maintain proper development.
- Spray deciduous trees and shrubs with dormant oil and lime sulphur.
- Check that dahlia tubers are not drying out and keep an eye on overwintered fuchsias and pelargoniums for whitefly and signs or rot.
- Prune deciduous trees (maples, birch, and walnut), before sap rises, but not spring-flowering shrubs.
- Prune clematis and buddleja (if you haven’t already) that blooms after June.
- Sow hardy annuals (bachelor buttons, sweet peas, California poppies) where they are to bloom. Start tender and half-hardy annuals indoors.
- Plant lily bulbs.
- Clean and sharpen tools. Tune-up your lawn mower so it is ready for spring.
- Spray roses, fruit trees, and some shrubs with dormant oil on a mild day.
- Lime lawns to counteract acidity and achieve a desirable pH balance.
- Sow radish, spinach, fennel, parsley, cauliflower, cabbage, potatoes, broccoli, and carrots.
- Plant bare-root roses. You’ll find a good selection at your garden center.
- When forsythia blooms, do final pruning of hybrid tea and floribunda roses.
- Excellent time to plant new trees and shrubs.
- Divide large clumps of perennials.
- Eliminate weeds and hunt for slugs, two chores that will pay major dividends, later
- Aerate lawns to revitalize grass. Overseed bare spots. Eliminate moss by liming, improving drainage, and creating more light.
- Prune early blooming shrubs such as Ribes sanguineum and forsythia, after blooming.
- Continue the process of dividing and planting perennials.
- Get dahlia tubers started indoors in milk cartons or pots.
- Deadhead grape hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils. Feed bulbs after flowering with 6-8-6 fertilizer.
- Sow hardy vegetables such as beets, peas, celery, lettuce, swiss chard, cauliflower, cucumbers, cabbage, and onions.
- Clip and tidy up winter-flowering heathers, as they finish blooming.
- Plant up hanging baskets, but keep in a protected environment until next month.
- Plant out dahlia tubers with a stake to support the mature plant.
- Put out hanging baskets. Water daily and feed with half-strength 20-20-20 twice a week.
- Plant summer color bedding plants after mid-month.Transplant seedlings started indoors after the risk of frost has passed.
- Empty spring-bulb containers and refill with summer color plants.
- Move out tender exotics (brugmansia, fuchsias, tibouchina) from greenhouse.
- Clean up rhododendrons and azaleas after flowering.
- Plant out tomatoes, brussels sprouts, bush beans, pole beans, pumpkin, squash, and corn.
- Mulch to suppress weeds, reduce evaporation and maintain soil moisture.
- Plant out zucchini and cucumber.
- Sow seeds for sunflowers and other tender annuals.
- Deadhead roses, annuals, and perennials to promote more blooms.
- Practise deep watering. Water lawns and flower beds to get moisture deep into the soil, then don’t water again for a week.
- Sow heat-loving vegetables such a melon, peppers, and eggplant.
- Remove excess fruit on peach and apple trees.
- Continue to deadhead roses, annuals, and perennials to get maximum blooms.
- Start to harvest raspberries and strawberries.
- Water hanging baskets and patio container plants at least once a day.
- Pinch prune chrysanthemums to promote bushiness.
- Prune wisteria (now two months after flowering) by cutting side shoots back to five or six buds, about six inches from main branch.
- Collect seed from foxgloves for sowing in pots and seed trays. The new plants can be transplanted where you want them to bloom.
- Cut bouquets of flowers to bring indoors.
- Shallow-rooted rhodos and azaleas are especially vulnerable this month to drought. Don’t allow them to go thirsty.
- Hill potatoes with soil or mulch.
- Cut back raspberry canes that produced fruit. Leave younger canes which will be slightly green. They will bear next year’s fruit.
- Check out ornamental grasses. See them at their peak this month.
- Take pelargonium cuttings. They will easily root in four-inch pots.
- Plant fall rye.
- Sow lettuce and radish for fall use. Sow cabbage, broccoli, spinach, and brussels sprouts for winter and spring use.
- Keep an eye on newly planted trees and shrubs. They need to be watered regularly during the first year.
- Begin planting spring-flowering bulbs.
- Divide perennials and buy new ones. You’ll find excellent buys at garden centers this month.
- Plant garlic and shallots.
- Apply aluminum suphate to the base of hydrangeas if you want bright blue blooms in spring. Add dolomite lime if you want them pink.
- Good time to plant new peonies.
- New evergreens and perennials planted this month will have time to develop new roots before winter.
- Fertize lawns with a low nitrogen, high phosphorus, potash content. Look for 1-3-2 ratio on the bag.
- Dig up dahlias. cannas and gladioli bulbs for storage.
- Wrap bananna trees and move tender tropical plants (fuchia, tibouchina, brugmansia) indoors.
- Empty flower beds of annuals once they have been exposed to frost.
- Load up the garden with a variety of spring-flowering bulbs. Don’t overlook the value of naturalizing and perennializing bulbs.
- Harvest the last of the tender vegetable (zucchini, squash) before frost. Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage and turnips can be left until later.
- Fill containers with triple-decker planting of bulbs to create sequence of blooms in spring. Store out of the rain.
- Apply Tanglefoot to trees to deter winter moth.
- Clean and sharpen tools for next season and store them in a dry location.
- Prune back summer-flowering clematis and pull away dead mass of stems. Don’t prune clematis that flower on old wood. Do this after they have bloomed.
- Prune hedges.
- In cooler areas, mound the bases of roses and less hardy plants with peat moss or other mulch.
- Deadhead roses for the last time and prune lightly for winter.
- Apply dolomite lime to lawns.
- Start amaryllis bulbs indoors. Early varieties will bloom in time for Christmas.
- Rake up dead leaves. Use disease-free ones around shrubs as a natural mulch. Shred others with your lawnmower and add to the compost.
- Sow green manure crops of fall rye, winter wheat or crimson clover in empty spaces.
- Plant new trees or shrubs, or move existing trees and shrubs to a new location.
- Put out bird feeders and keep them filled.
- Lightly prune hollies and evergreens.
- Plant paperwhite bulbs indoors for a fragrant display.