gardening tips


Bradfield Organics® May Garden Tips, 2007

May is a month where what you do in the garden is highly dependent on which “zone” you live in.  The United States Department of Agriculture published a Plant Hardiness Zone Map in 1990 that is most useful in helping to determine when and what to plant in your area.  The entire map can be viewed here . Shown here is a description of the zones and their sub-zones:

USDA Hardiness Zones and Average Annual Minimum Temperature Range




  Example Cities  


 Below -50 F  

Below -45.6 C

Fairbanks, Alaska;   Resolute, Northwest Territories (Canada) 


-50 to -45 F  

-42.8 to -45.5 C

Prudhoe Bay, Alaska;   Flin Flon, Manitoba (Canada)


-45 to -40 F

-40.0 to -42.7 C

Unalakleet, Alaska;   Pinecreek, Minnesota 


-40 to -35 F

-37.3 to -39.9 C

International Falls, Minnesota;   St. Michael, Alaska


-35 to -30 F

-34.5 to -37.2 C

Tomahawk, Wisconsin;   Sidney, Montana


-30 to -25 F

-31.7 to -34.4 C

Minneapolis/St.Paul, Minnesota;   Lewistown, Montana


-25 to -20 F

-28.9 to -31.6 C

Northwood, Iowa; Nebraska


-20 to -15 F

-26.2 to -28.8 C

Des Moines, Iowa;   Illinois


-15 to -10 F

-23.4 to -26.1 C

Columbia, Missouri;   Mansfield, Pennsylvania


-10 to -5 F

-20.6 to -23.3 C

St. Louis, Missouri; Lebanon, Pennsylvania


-5 to 0 F  

-17.8 to -20.5 C

McMinnville, Tennessee;   Branson, Missouri 


0 to 5 F

-15.0 to -17.7 C

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;   South Boston, Virginia


5 to 10 F

-12.3 to -14.9 C

Little Rock, Arkansas;   Griffin, Georgia


10 to 15 F

-9.5 to -12.2 C

Tifton, Georgia;   Dallas, Texas 


15 to 20 F

-6.7 to -9.4 C

Austin, Texas;   Gainesville, Florida


20 to 25 F

-3.9 to -6.6 C

Houston, Texas;   St. Augustine, Florida


25 to 30 F

-1.2 to -3.8 C

Brownsville, Texas;   Fort Pierce, Florida


30 to 35 F

1.6 to -1.1 C

Naples, Florida;   Victorville, California


35 to 40 F

4.4 to 1.7 C

Miami, Florida;   Coral Gables, Florida


above 40 F

above 4.5 C

Honolulu, Hawaii;   Mazatlan, Mexico

Temperature determines which perennials will survive in a given zone and when you should plant common annuals.  For instance, Zones 6 and above can plant tomatoes outdoors this month; Zone 5 can certainly do so if the plants are protected; Zones 4 and below need to wait.  Some of you may just be starting to clean old vegetation out of your garden, while others may already be harvesting cool-weather greens such as spinach and arugula.

May is a month of considerable soil warming in a majority of zones, and this means the microbes that form the “soil food web” are becoming more active.  Within healthy soil are colonies of photosynthesizers, decomposers, shredders, grazers, predators and more, all forming a complex community much like the plant and animal communities we see above ground.  There are bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and many more, all necessary for the active cycle of life that comprises healthy soil and feeds healthy plants.  May is the beginning of the build-up to the peak of microbial activity that occurs in mid-summer, so if you have not prepared your garden yet, NOW is the time!!!

To build and maintain healthy soil requires regular inputs of organic matter and nutrients.  Some of this comes from natural decomposition of plant matter (as when you mow your lawn and mulch the clippings back into the grass), but often we need to build soil to obtain an ideal environment for the type of gardening we want to pursue.  Applying Bradfield fertilizers provides the soil community and plants with several essential requirements:

Organic Matter:  this is material that can be decomposed, either quickly or more slowly.  Most of the ingredients in Bradfield Organics fertilizers contribute organic matter.  Additional organic matter can be obtained by adding compost.  Keep in mind that the soil microbes will need nutrients in order to do the work of breaking down the compost, so be sure to add Bradfield fertilizer along with the compost.

Soluble or Labile organic matter:  Sugars from the molasses in Bradfield Organics fertilizers are an example of a labile source of rapid nutrition for soil microbes.

Humus:  Humus is not readily decomposed and is essential for building the tiny soil aggregates that improve water- and nutrient-holding capacity of the soil.  Bradfield Organics fertilizers contain humates to help build soil structure.

Nutrients:  Bradfield Organics fertilizers a full of a variety of necessary nutrients to nourish plants and microbes.  Much like hungry, undernourished animals, hungry and undernourished microbes and plants will not perform at their best.

What you won’t find in Bradfield Organics fertilizers is chemicals, salts or synthetic nutrients.  Made from the same ingredients used in animal feeds, these nourishing products are safe for you, your children, your pets, and your environment.  

Lack of properly prepared soil sets up your garden plants for a growing season characterized by a constant struggle to obtain adequate nutrients and water.  Plants in poor soil will fail to optimally grow and produce flavorful food and will be continually challenged by attacks from pests and diseases.

Hopefully you have prepared your garden areas already if you are in Zone 5 and up, as it is time for you to be planting seeds and seedlings, annual flowers, perennial flowers, trees, shrubs and vines.  Those of you in Zones 4 and below should be planting hardy vegetables like Swiss chard, carrots and turnips, setting out annuals for hardening off, and finishing preparation of your garden area.  

Regardless of your zone and your level of preparedness, it is never too late for an application of Bradfield Organics fertilizer.   Look for our new 5-lb bagged products at your local lawn and garden center.  Now get out there and grow some green with Bradfield Organics!




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