Ira Wallace Southern Exposure Seed Exchange & author of Grow Great Vegetables in Virginia 

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 scuffle hoe regularly on sunny days and hand weed close to your plants regularly when the ground is moist and the weeds are small.


To keep a steady supply of salad greens start sowing heat resistant lettuces like Sierra or Jericho  weekly and establishing full season summer greens such as Malabar spinach, orach and Rainbow chard.  While harvesting the last Rhubarb and Asparagus give them a quick weeding and thick mulch if needed.


Time to hill your potatoes again, covering half the plant then repeat in 2 weeks thru the end of May. Keep an eye out for Colorado Potato Beetles on your potatoes. Pick them by hand or use dipel to control them. If you missed out on planting Irish potatoes you still have time to order slips and plant sweet potatoes. Jordan’s blog post Sweet Potatoes From Order to Plate will  get you started.

Mid-month transplant tomatoes, celery, and peppers into 4-6 inch  mulch to keep ahead on weeding. Transplant eggplants into bare soil for better control of flea beetles. If needed a bucket made sticky on the inside with tangle foot makes a nice trap for flea beetles. Put the bucket under your plant and just shake’em in. Repeat as often as needed.


Add beans, corn, cukes, and squash to direct sown succession plantings. These heat loving plants won’t grow happily until the nighttime temperatures are staying above 50 degrees F. So just wait for good germination and fast growth of the young plants. When the soil warms at the end of May is also a good time to sow peanuts, okra, edamame, sweet potatoes and other hot weather crops.

Remove the scapes from garlic, shallot and perennial onions. ( Scapes make a delicious addition to stir frys and soups). Keep all you alliums evenly moist and well weeded to get the largest bulbs. In Virginia late May is a good time to remove the mulch from your garlic and start the curing process as the bulbs are maturing.


Don’t forget to eat lots of strawberries and savor fresh Sugar Snap peas while you weed in May.