May Gardening Tips

Hooray for May!

April showers bring May flowers and pollinators galore.  Now that the soil is warm enough for direct sowing make sure that you include herbs and flowering plants to provide nectar and pollen for all of the beneficial insects in your garden. Self sowing herbs and flowers like dill, cilantro, bronze fennel,  sunflowers, nasturtiums and Old Fashioned Vining petunias.

Time to Plant First Corn, Cucumber and Bean Successions

May 1st is the date after which we feel safe from frost on our farm; less than one year in ten brings an unusual freezing low. We begin our plans to enjoy fresh sweet corn, cucumbers, and beans all summer with several successions starting now and continuing until 60 days before your average first fall frost date.  To provide variety at the table and more choices in winter storage try growing asparagus beans, greasy beans, limas, edamame and various dry beans along with traditional green snap beans, corn, cucumbers, summer squash and blackeyed peas. Our bean growing guide and Southern Pea growing guide will tell you how.

Egyptian Onions and Other Perennial Alliums

Perennial alliums are really lovely at this time of year with bulblils, flowers and seedheads putting on a  colorful display. This is also the time to thin perennial  l leeks using the small underground bulbils for pickles and replanting or sharing those too large or small for this purpose.

May is a good time to preorder perennial onion, shallot, garlic and Egyptian onion bulbs for delivery  at the correct fall planting time for your area( mid-September to Mid-October) to avoid disappointment when you favorite varieties are unavailable later in the season.. For more growing info read our Garlic and Perennial Onion Growing Guide.


Delicious, Nutritious Homegrown Sweet Potatoes

We just started planting sweet potato slips and will continue planting thru mid-June. Tasty, easy to grow sweet potatoes are one the most nutritious vegetable commonly grown in home gardens, low in fat and sodium but high in fiber, potassium, manganese, vitamins A and C. Start growing your own orange, purple or white sweet potatoes now! For growing details see our Sweet Potato Growing Guide.

Time to Transplant  Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant and  More!

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 tangle foot makes a nice trap for flea beetles. Put the bucket under your plant and just shake’em in.

Happy gardening!


Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and author of The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast