May in the Vegetable Garden

It’s here, the summer slump… technically it’s here anyway.  There may be a slump in what you can plant in your May vegetable garden and for the next few months, but there is absolutely no slump in what needs to be done in the garden.

Lots of other things are happening in the May vegetable garden(s) too.  Lots of harvesting going on, egg laying by garden friendly creatures: lizards, birds, snakes, frogs and toads- usually the toads start singing and mating after the first rain in May.

The heat and humidity starting in May is going to put a real damper on the garden.  It will be interfering with pollen viability which will lower production, and it creates an environment that bugs and disease totally love.  It is best if you do not work in your garden when it is wet because the chances of spreading disease goes waaaaaay up.

Be on the lookout for fungus… particularly powdery mildew!

Here’s the skimpy planting prospects for May vegetable garden (and June and July!)

COOL WEATHER PLANTS

NONE

WARM WEATHER PLANTS

  • Okra
  • Southern peas (includes black-eyed, yard long, crowder…)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Malabar and New Zealand spinach (not really spinach but a good substitute)
  • Peanuts
  • Maybe squash
  • Maybe watermelon
  • Maybe mustard and turnip (for the greens) – After you pick them they will need to spend some time in the refrigerator or freezer to give them some sweetness and good flavor

Some advice:

  • Don’t work in the heat of the day
  • The high humidity is dangerous for you too because your body can’t use sweat evaporation to keep you cool
  • If parts of your May vegetable garden are in shade part of the day, work in the shaded areas and then move with the shade (for example, my whole garden is in shade in the early morning.  Sun first appears at the west side then moves across the garden to the east side.  So, I start my gardening on the west side and then as the sun creeps in, I follow and stay in the shade as it moves over to the east side.
  • Stay hydrated
  • Wear a hat (some sun is very very good – vitamin D3 production – but too much should be avoided)
  • Use some bug repellant (something natural like citronella – get a little bottle of citronella essential oil from a health food store, put a couple of drops on the palm of your hand, rub your hands together, then rub your hands all over the exposed parts of your body – ankles, arms, neck, face, hair… works for me)
  • Take breaks
  • Get a hammock

April in The Vegetable Garden

Another near winterless year for most of us.  Plants are loving it… so are the bugs and diseases.  With no cold weather kill-off, seems like they are getting a major head start.  Spider mites, thrips, aphids, powdery mildew, early blight – just to mention a few – have made themselves at home for many weeks already.

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April’s list is stingy.

COOL WEATHER PLANTS

  • NONE

WARM WEATHER PLANTS

  • Beans – bush, pole, lima
  • Cantaloupes
  • Okra
  • Southern peas – crowder, black-eyed, yard long…
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Malabar spinach

March in the Vegetable Garden

WOW! NO WINTER AT ALL THIS YEAR, FOR THE MOST OF US…

March plantings are not much different from February’s, but the important thing is this:

MARCH IS THE LAST BIG PLANTING MONTH FOR THE SPRING SEASON.

With April’s warmth, the number of things you can plant drops drastically and then in May, June, and July there are really very few things you can plant at all… you need to have the plants growing already.  Heat and humidity will affect plant growth and productivity – and so will the bugs and diseases!!

So here’s the list for March

COOL WEATHER PLANTS

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Collards
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onion – multiplier, bunching
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Turnip

WARM WEATHER PLANTS

  • Beans – bush, pole, lima
  • Cantaloups
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Southern peas
  • Peppers
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Summer Squash
  • Winter Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Remember though, this is just a generic list.  At your house in your garden, things aren’t going to be generic.  Yours may be warmer, cooler, sunnier, shadier, dryer, moister, more fertile, different pH, more organic matter, yadda yadda yadda… than the average generic garden.

Look around your garden world.  Observe what and where things are growing, sprouting, the color, the health, moisture, disease… and use this information combined with a little common sense to guide your garden planting decisions.