May 4-10: In the garden, it's time to…

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Japanese maples are famous for their prolific seed-dropping ability.

Revive an old craze. About 50 years ago, threadleaf Japanese maples adorned every front yard on my street. Now the neighborhood is replete with Japanese maples in every color, shape and size, but mostly the more common ones, the ones with broader leaves. These beautiful trees are famous for their prolific seed-dropping ability, so now is the time you’ll see these little babies — in your flower beds, fence lines and rain gutters. But look closely: Every once in a blue moon, maybe one in a thousand, a baby threadleaf tree pops up. Save it, cherish it, and plant it in your front yard when it gets big enough.

Get the naked facts.  May is the month to think about nakedness. Let’s start with the soil. Weed seeds germinate as soon as they are exposed to light, and tilling and turning soil brings more seeds to the light. This is OK for the short term, because birds come and eat the newly exposed seeds, bugs and grubs. But terrible things happen when soil is uncovered for too long: Weed seeds explode out of the ground seemingly in an effort of the soil to cover up its unnatural nakedness. So, mulch between plants and rows to keep the weed seeds in the dark. And yes, May 6 is World Naked Gardening Day.  People everywhere will bare their souls and their bottoms: Last year a friend sent out a picture of himself in the garden tending to his donkey, entitled “My a–, checking out my a–.” While you’re checking things out, do the butt test. Expose some skin to the ground, and if it’s warm enough to not make you jump up, it’s warm enough to plant your tomatoes.

Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (phsonline.org) and a co-owner of Cobblestone Krautery (www.cobblestonekrautery.com).