May in Your Vegetable Garden

It’s here, the summer slump… technically it’s here anyway.  There may be a slump in what you can plant 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 garden(s) too.  Lots of harvesting going on, egg laying by garden friendly creatures: lizards, birds, toads – usually the toads start singing after the first rain in May… this year they started singing mid April.

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 (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 – do it early or do it late. You can even do it at night if you can rig up some lighting in your garden.
  • The high humidity is dangerous for you too because your body can’t use sweat evaporation to keep you cool.
  • If parts of your 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 retreat bit by bit to the east and stay in the shade.
  • Stay hydrated – big glass of ice water or sweet ice tea works well, or even lemonade.
  • 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.

4 thoughts on “May in Your Vegetable Garden”

  1. Hello, does anyone know if leaf footed bugs are harmful or helpful? I have read conflicting opinions on this.
    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hey Ginny,

      Leaf footed bugs are really neither good or bad. They can do some damage but it’s usually mild and their numbers are usually not enough to cause concern.

      If you are worried about them you can do what I do to control them ….. simply vacuum them up with a little hand held battery operated portable vacuum cleaner. Works great.

  2. I’m glad I stumbled across this website.
    Do you know anything about planting fruit trees around Central Florida?
    I just ordered and received about 8 dwarf mulberries, 3 pakistan mulberries, 4 shangri la mulberries, 2 dwarf papayas, 3 barbados cherry trees, and 2 sherbet berry trees. I’m super excited, but they are all rooted cuttings from mature trees. Seems to be about 10 inches tall each. Should I pot them up and wait until next spring to plant? Or should I put them in the ground now? I just don’t want them to get baked in the heat. I’m in Cocoa, Florida a couple blocks from the river.
    Any thoughts?

    Thanks,
    Joshua Murphy

    1. Hey Joshua… I’d be super excited too! Wonderful haul!

      First thing you need to consider is where these plants came from. If they are from somewhere in the south then the parent plant and subsequently the cuttings will be somewhat acclimated to our heat and humidity etc.

      If they came from a northern region, then they will have a little harder time adapting.

      You can go ahead and plant them but you will need to give them a LOT of tender loving care – really good soil, keep them moist, shaded etc.

      Or, what I think would be the better plan and what I’d do in your situation, is pot them in really good soil, set them in a sheltered shaded place, keep them moist… This will give the poor babies time to get their bearings, adapt, grow a really good root system, get strong and healthy…

      Then in the fall either plant them in their permanent location or put them up into larger pots (your dwarf ones could be grown permanently in large pots)

      We plant trees and the like in the fall here rather than the spring. Over the winter months the plant will grow roots while it’s going through a little bit of dormancy Then when the weather is just right in late winter or spring the plant will be well established and can send out and support all that top growth.

      Wishing you a green thumb Joshua

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