fingers holding a small, unripe, green strawberry and white blossom
Strawberries (Fragaria species) are one of summer’s best treats, and there is still time now in May to plant them.  

Choose the cultivar

June-bearing strawberries provide one large crop of bigger berries and everbearing strawberries produce smaller berries throughout the growing season. There also are novelty types of strawberries that range in flavor or color – such as purple, yellow, white.

Now that you have cleared off the coffee table and the kitchen counter from the holiday catalogs, the next pile will be gardening solicitations and more catalogs.  

Historically, this time of year was when gardeners ordered to get the hard-to-find seeds, perennial plants, and certain varieties of brambles and fruit trees. Given industry trends the last two growing seasons, it is going to be more important than ever to place all your orders as soon as possible.

apple blossoms

Our Master Gardener help desk gets emails mid-summer when apple trees drop many of their leaves, except for the outer 12 inches or so. The same thing can happen to our ornamental flowering crabapples. In both cases, the cause is the same – a fungal disease that infects the foliage and fruits.

January begins the annual flight of vegetable, flower, and fruit tree catalogs to your mailbox (or your email inbox). Depending on your level of gardening, the catalogs may arrive frequently and in mass.

Given our milder winter, gardeners may be surprised with the need to do some pruning on shrubs that are typically considered hardy in our area. It is not uncommon to find a bit of winter dieback where last years’ growth was actively growing late in the summer or where we got a bit carried away and fertilized too late in the season. The tips and ends of those branches were not able to harden off in time to survive the winter.

Seems fitting to give a nod to cranberries in this week’s column, given the time of year. Whether strung with popcorn on Christmas trees, or as dishes at Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, cranberries are a seasonal favorite. Once eaten only a couple times a year, they now can be found in the grocery aisles, canned or dried, just about any time of the year.