01 May MAY GARDEN CHECKLIST
It’s safe to say that even for the northernmost planting zones, spring is here! May is a busy month in the garden, and it’s also a thrilling one. Morning strolls through the garden reveal new seedlings popping up, flowers unfolding, and some veggies ripening. While it’s tempting to plant everything at the first sign of a warm day, May has a tendency to bring unexpected weather that can damage your garden. Late cold snaps, heavy rains, and strong winds are all still possible, so be prepared to protect your garden from inclement weather.
As always, seek the advice of a trusted garden center or your local county extension office for the best times to plant in your area.
Plan If you kept up with your late winter/early spring chores and planning, May should be a little easier. Still, it’s worth noting in your garden journal any successes you’ve experienced with your plantings. Is there something that you might have planted sooner (or later) than you did? What pests are you observing in the garden so far? How much rain are you getting?
Prepare & Maintain Keep up with your weeding chores — May can be a doozy! Reapply mulch if you see any bare spots on the soil surface. Be sure your irrigation system continues to operate efficiently as the growing season heats up. If you live in an area with watering restrictions or guidelines, make sure your watering schedule honors that. Feed fruit trees with compost, and thin fruit to every 6” while the fruit is still small. USDA Hardiness Zone 4 should harden off annuals before transplanting them outside, and can remove winter protection from cool-season crops.
Sow & Plant Indoors While most zones are finished with indoor sowing by the time May rolls around….
- Zone 4 may start seeds of cucumbers, melon, and squash under grow lights. All other zones continue with outdoor planting and sowing.
Sow & Plant Outdoors
- Zone 4 can plant transplants of tomatoes, summer squash, beans, celery, chard, rutabaga, radish, corn, cucumbers, parsnips, peas, kale, melons, potatoes, and pumpkin.
- Zones 5-6 can direct sow seeds of squash, okra, lettuce, melons, cucumber, and corn. When soil temperatures reach 60 degrees, Zone 4 gardeners can begin planting tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant transplants.
- Zones 7-10 are moving on to heat-tolerant tomatoes like Heat Wave, Juliet, and Sweet 100. Remove all cool-season crops and replace them with eggplant, okra, sweet potatoes, peppers, purslane, basil, Malabar spinach, and black-eyed peas.
- Zones 4-6 can harvest spinach, radishes, arugula, asparagus, green onions, greens, garlic, peas, lettuce, and kohlrabi.
- Zones 7-10 can harvest tomatoes, snow and sweet peas, green beans, cucumbers, peppers, squash, and eggplant.