by Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and author of The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast
When May comes around it’s time to start weeding and thinning. Thin your beets and carrots 2 weeks after they emerge to keep them growing vigorously. If you want to keep the weeds under control and save your aching back weed standing up with a scuffle or diamond hoe regularly on sunny days and save the small amount of hand weeding for days when the ground is wet.
Start sowing heat resistant lettuces like Sierra and summer greens such as Malabar spinach, Jewels of Opar, and Rainbow chard. If you have Rhubarb and Asparagus give them a quick weeding and thick mulch if needed as you harvest.
Hill your potatoes when they are 8 inches high. Cover half the plant and repeat at 2 week intervals thru May. Keep an eye out for Colorado Potato Beetles on your potatoes. Pick them by hand or use BT to control them.
Mid-month transplant tomatoes, celery, and peppers into mulch to keep ahead on weeding. You may want to plant eggplant into bare soil and cover with light weight row cover or proteknet for better control of flea beetles. If needed a bucket made sticky on the inside with tanglefoot makes a nice trap for flea beetles. Put the bucket under your plant and just shake’em in.
You can add direct sown beans, corn, cucumbers, and squash to your succession plantings mid-May as well. When the soil warms at the end of May sow peanuts, okra, edamame, and sweet potatoes. If you are new to growing sweet potatoes you can download Southern Exposure Seed Exchange’s Sweet Potato Growing Guide to get you started.
Remove the scapes and keep your garlic weeded to get the largest bulbs. Late May is a good time to remove the mulch from your garlic and perennial onions in preparation for harvest.
Enjoy the late spring weather, eat lots of garden fresh perfectly ripe strawberries and savor your Sugar Snap peas straight off the vine while you weed in May!