, Newburyport, MA

May 1, 2013

Tim's Tips: Be wary of planting veggies too early

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — May has arrived and the vegetable gardeners are itching to start planting. You do need to keep in mind that just because the calendar says it is May does not mean that everything can now be planted in the garden.

Many vegetable plants can be damaged or killed by a late frost. The plants that come to mind are tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and eggplant. In our area, the last average date for a frost is May 10. There have been times when we have had a frost as late as Memorial Day.

Many of the old farmers would say that these tender vegetables should not be planted until after the full moon in May. The full moon this year is May 25. The reason for this is that when we have a full moon in May, the skies are usually clear at night. This leads to rapid cooling of the air and a likely chance of the temperatures falling below freezing. I would wait until after the full moon to plant these tender vegetable plants.

Keep in mind that there are many vegetables that you can plant now. If you are interested in learning more about which are safe, stop by the store and I can help you.

If you haven’t gotten around to putting crabgrass control on your lawn, you are running out of time. The forsythia bushes are in full bloom and that means that as soon as they drop their flowers, the crabgrass seeds will begin to sprout.

A dilemma that some of you may encounter is that you have put down crabgrass control and fertilizer, and now the dandelions are blooming. You can’t put down a weed and feed product because you will have put down too much fertilizer and you run a great risk of burning the lawn.

If this is the case in your yard, you can apply one of the liquid lawn weed killer products. These products don’t contain fertilizer so you won’t burn the grass from applying too much.

If you have spring flowering shrubs, you may be thinking about pruning them back to shape them or to reduce their size. Shrubs that bloom in early spring are pruned back right after the shrub is done flowering. If the shrubs have not started blooming and you cut them back, you will be removing the flower buds as you prune. When it comes to pruning your spring flowering shrubs, patience is a virtue.

Very soon, the winter moth caterpillars will be attacking our trees. At the first sign of this caterpillar eating the leaves of your trees, you should spray your trees with a product containing Bt. Bt is an organic insecticide that will quickly kill those caterpillars. It does work its best when the caterpillars are small, so keep an eye on your trees.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.


Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.