I love the May long weekend. It means barbeques, camping, fire pits, picnics, hanging out, and starting gardens (despite warnings about the weather’s nasty habit of bringing back echoes of winter). It’s about friends and families. It’s an extra day to sleep in.

The industrious types dive into spring cleaning. Skip it.

Let’s have fun. Unless cleaning is fun for you and, well, whatever floats your boat.

For you history buffs, the May long weekend owes its existence to Queen Victoria of England. Canada actually passed legislation in May, 1845, to recognize the Queen’s birthday. It is a statutory holiday in most provinces, meaning, everyone gets to have a holiday. In Quebec, they call it “National Patriots Day.”

Canada passed legislation in May, 1845, to recognize Queen Victoria’s birthday.

The May long weekend is also a popular time of the year when local community parks and attractions open for the season. Golf courses, some of which are already open, offer special packages. If you haven’t already booked your round, you might have to pray for a cancellation. But, don’t worry; there are always plenty of things to do.

What is Canada doing on the long weekend? Check out http://www.todocanada.ca/.

One way to find out whazzup is to check local websites. ToDoCanada.ca covers places like Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Banff and more.

Sure, most things will cost you money, like camping — and the groceries — and the snacks — and the firewood —- and the camping ground fees. Maybe you need a loan?

Certainly, excited gardeners like to go nuts at all of the seasonal sales being offered in the gardening centres. The Walmarts, Canadian Tires, Costcos, Home Depots and even the food retailers have loaded up the parking lot with perennials, seeds, fertilizer, garden gadgets and apparel. Not only might you need a loan, you might need to buy a truck.

This would be the time to get your hands on every coupon you can find. Retailers like to drive volume on a weekend like this. Why? Because, once you start gardening, you will continue to need things to maintain your horticultural creations.

Stock up on frost blankets or burlap. And keep plants in the shade away from the sun until you plant them.

So, for those green thumbs who want to defy the cold weather odds, here are some tips.

  • Stock up on frost blankets or burlap. Burlap is pretty cheap at gardening centers. Go the extra mile and put the blankets in place in a ready-to-pull-out mode.
  • This is a good weekend to add fertilizer, compost, peat moss or whatever organic material that will enrich your soil.
  • Pick flowers that are not in full bloom, but rather are in the bud stage. If you feel iffy about weather, keep them in the garage or indoors and nurture them before planting them outside.
  • Pick short, stocky perennials rather than tall ones.
  • Hate to tell you, but trees, evergreens and shrubs that have been sitting on retail parking lot asphalt can end up growing poorly. Look for the ones that are OFF the ground.
  • Last, but not least. When you unpack the plants from your vehicle, store them against a fence or wall that has some shade rather than directly in the sun until you are actually ready to plant them.

And just to round things out, I have one — count it — one BBQ tip. It comes from someone I actually met — Jean Paré, the author and Canadian food icon of Company’s Coming recipe book fame. This is what she taught me:

When you barbeque a hamburger, make a finger-sized hole in the centre of your patty. Why, inquiring minds want to know? Because a patty loses its juices as it cooks. If you don’t have a hole, the juices drip off the surface as the meat contracts and that’s why many burgers end up being dry. With a hole, the patty retains more moisture as it contracts.

TRUST ME! Changed my BBQ hamburger experience forever.

Put a hole in the middle of your hamburger patty.

Whatever you do this weekend, be careful. There are lots of people on the road and in a hurry to get somewhere. Eat, drink responsibly, and be merry. Have a great May long weekend!