May 2020 garden update – prepping and planting

May is not the typical time to start a garden in Northern Ontario. However, there’s not much typical about this year. Gardening is one of my favorite things to do during the summer months. Not only does it provide my family with food, but it gets me outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Gardening is also a fantastic way to keep in shape, especially during the early stages when prepping the area and planting time. The May 2020 garden is an unusual but welcome sight. Spring is a good opportunity to spend some time in the garden, admiring the plants coming out of their dormant state and seeing the potential of the area.

May 2020 garden

Plans change

I try to plan my garden well in advance. This allows me to order what seeds I need to ensure that they arrive by the time planting month comes around. My initial plan changed, but not too much. Then everything got crazy and I completely scrapped my old plans and made a new one. This year, I wanted to make the most of my garden (though I try to do that every year) and so a few plants would no longer be in the equation since they don’t produce a ton.

However, as time went on I decided to once again revamp my garden plan. Some plants that were previously scrapped were now back not he table, but in small quantities. A few I hadn’t intended to grow were now being added and I was starting much sooner than normal. We live in a cool climate, with our last frost date in mid-June, which means generally the garden can’t be planted until then. But this fact wasn’t about to stop me.

Prepping the garden beds

The first and most important garden task was removing the horseradish. This plant has been growing in a raised bed for four years and has never produced roots large enough to harvest. Needless to say, I don’t appreciate such a waste of valuable space, especially with such a short growing season to work with, so it had to go. This was a much larger task than I had thought it would be. The horseradish had invaded the bed beside it, so both beds, in between them and several inches down and around them, had to be dug up.  While the beds were empty, I took some time to repair them as well, as the sides had started to bow out. Supports were added to the middle of the beds to prevent the bowing from getting worse. Then the soil had to be sifted and all of the bits of root removed, This task alone took about half of the month.

Once this was completed, it was time to amend the rest of the garden, adding compost and breaking up the soil that had been compacted over the winter. I tend not to do too much tilling, however, with the amount of snow we get and considering how long it lays on top of the garden, I do try to help soften the soil a bit.

May 2020 garden planting

I didn’t plant a ton this month. Truth be told, I actually planted quite a bit back in April. However, it was in May when these plants really started to take off as they were able to spend more and more time outside in the sun. This isn’t the first year I have started seeds indoors a few weeks before the garden could be planting. However, starting a multitude of potatoes extra early proved to be a fun challenge. They had to be put outside once the temperature was above freezing and then brought back into the house at night. All of this work has so far paid off, as the plants are large and healthy. I also planted spinach, bok choy, swiss chard, a number of herbs and flowers in April so that I would have strong seedlings by June.

As the weather warmed, and the ground thawed, the desire to plant in the raised beds grew. Luckily, there are a few plants that can tolerate our colder temperature and will survive a frost as well. So, once the raised beds had compost added and their soil fluffed up, I was able to plant onions, garlic, spinach, lettuce, carrots, and radishes.

Another task was the transplant some of the seedlings, which had been planted in April, into bigger containers. The bok choy and spinach were the first to be transplanted. There is still some more spinach and the swiss chard that needs transplanting soon. The potatoes, which I am growing in containers this year, were moved out into the main garden recently so they can enjoy more sun.

The chives, which have been growing in the garden for many years, have come back strong. In fact, I have harvested them once to make cheese and chive scones. The strawberries have also come back and are starting to flower, which is hopefully a sign of a good strawberry harvest in our future. Of course, the biggest surprise was that a parsley plant survived the winter. Though parsley can be a perennial, our extremely cold winters usually kill them off. This is the first year one has ever come back in the spring.

That is what the May 2020 garden looks like so far. There is still much to do when it comes to planting, but that will have to wait until next month. Have you started your garden yet?


  1. I have never grown potatoes in containers. I appreciate you sharing all the garden ideas. My favorites are plants like chives and strawberries, which return each year. So far, most things I’ve planted have sprouted. I always have high hopes for a great tomato crop!

    1. They grow pretty well in containers as long as they are big enough. My pots are about 20-inch pots, so that should be big enough for the varieties I am growing. I love perennial plants as well, always nice to know something will return year after year and they require little effort to grow. That’s great that everything is sprouting for you. I was thinking about planting tomatoes this year but can’t find any seedlings.

  2. I am so envious of your beautiful raised beds (even if the horseradish was a pain to dig out), I only have two tiny ones. The rest of our garden is given over to fruits and flowers. But I’ve been surprised at some tender annuals that have come back this year too: petunias, calendulas, and snapdragons. Such a lovely surprise! 🙂 Lisa

    1. I love my raised beds, they make the garden so much better. Perhaps one day you can have some big raised beds at some point. It’s always nice when plants come back that you aren’t expecting to.

  3. Good job. I can understand the challenges you might have that far north. Our challenges down here is severe heat but we get a much longer growing period.

    1. Thank you. Heat can be quite a challenge to deal with but as you said it also gives you a longer growing season so you do have a bit of an advantage.

  4. You are so lucky that your strawberries grew back – ours haven’t ever grown back.
    I’m loving your raised beds!

    1. Oh man, that’s a bummer that your strawberries have never come back. Usually, they come back, I wonder what’s causing them to not do so. Thanks, my raised beds are awesome, so glad we built them a few years ago.

  5. Love it!! I am starting a gardening adventure this summer too so I’m excited to follow along on your gardening journey!

    1. That’s exciting that you are growing a garden as well.

  6. I would love to grow my own fruits and vegetables in the future. I know so little about gardening though. 🙁 Your garden looks so well organised, thank you for the inspiration!

    1. I hope you are able to have a garden at some point. Use your time now to do lots of research so you have a good knowledge base for when you do start gardening.

  7. This year definitely threw my normal gardening plans for a loop. Our garden this year won’t be nearly as big as it has been in the past. A combination of the late snow and the fact that garden centers around here were closed down for so long… but we’ll have some fresh veggies to enjoy!

    1. It’s a shame it won’t be as big as usual, but I can understand why. At least you have some things growing and can have a nice big garden next year.

  8. It looks like you’ve made some good progress so far! It’s great that your strawberries are back. We’ve had a lot of work done to ou garden this year, trellises removed, deck redone and ripped a lot of stuff out to start fresh x


    1. It’s definitely coming along nicely. It’s nice to get a lot of work done in the garden and getting to start fresh with some things.

  9. Hopefully your garden will priduce a lot of harvest.
    Gardening activities me to do the same.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Greetings from Indonesia.

    1. Thank you. I’m hoping it does well.

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