What To Plant In May

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It’s all about what to plant in May today. I hope you are adding to your garden, or maybe starting a garden, this year. Here’s the deal, we don’t need a lot of acreage to produce enough food to feed our family. You can grow so many vegetables in a small backyard. You can grow food in pots, raised garden beds, and of course, in the ground. I no longer own a tiller, although we used to have a huge garden plot. Our girls have moved on and it’s down to Mark and me. Check your zone for planting here: USDA Hardiness Zone

You may remember me telling you I have raised garden beds. We have added two more this year because I feel an urgency to grow more food for the two of us. The crazy weather this year has made me realize we need to be self-reliant more than ever. Please be prepared with a Soil Thermometer and a pH tester for the garden. If the weather turns cold, have some Cloches available. These are the ones I purchased to protect my seedlings: Large Garden Cloches

Add Amendments To Your Soil

Before we get started with the vegetables you can plant in May, let’s be sure your soil is ready. Here are my tips for soil, I do this every Spring and Fall.

The first thing we need to do is pull any weeds that have come up since the last time you turned over the soil. Dig out any leftover crops that you may have missed the last time you harvested. Turn the soil several times and add the following amendments, if you need them.

Azomite Micronized Bag, 44 lb

FibreDust Coco Coir Block

Unco Industries Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Earthworm Castings Organic Fertilizer, 15-Pound

Miracle-Gro Nature’s Care Organic Bone Meal, 3 lb.

Espoma VM8 8-Quart Organic Vermiculite

Soil pH Levels

What Does The Term pH Level Mean

Are you wondering what the term pH level is when gardening? Each plant prefers a different level of acidity to grow the very best harvest. The level of acidity desired varies between each plant. Therefore, you can adjust the pH of your soil by adding lime or sulfur to bring it up or down depending on what your soil needs. You can have your soil tested, possibly by your state extension service, or try and do it your self with a soil tester. pH Tester

How To Hand Pollinate

All you need is a paintbrush. If you need to hand pollinate because you are not seeing any fruit develop here is something you may want to try. You do this by removing the male blossom (male blossoms do not have fruit behind them). They produce pollen leaving the center covered in the pollen to collect with the brush. Use a “brush” to apply the pollen you collected to the center of the female flower. This works for squash, melons, and cucumbers every time.

What To Plant In May

1. Beets

When prepping the soil for planting beet seeds, please do not neglect the needs of these red beauties. They prefer well-drained soil, never clay as I have here in Southern Utah, which is too heavy for the large roots to grow. If your soils are hard it may cause the beet to be tough and not be the best vegetable to cook.

The temperature must be at least 40 degrees F. (4 C) to plant the seeds in order for them to germinate. Beets do not like the hot weather and actually do poorly in the high temps. When the soil is ready, plant the seeds 1 to 2 inches apart and cover the seeds with soil and sprinkle with water. In about 7 to 14 days you will start to see a few sprouts. Thin as needed to keep the roots a good size for harvesting. You may want to plant some beet seeds every 2-3 weeks to have a good harvest longer.

You can plant them in partial shade, but make sure the soil depth is at least 6-8 inches to produce really good roots. The beets are ready to harvest in about 8 weeks. When ready to dig them, gently remove the soil around each root. The greens can be harvested when the beets are young and the root is small.

pH level for Beets: 6.0-7.5

2. Carrots

Carrots like really smooth, loamy soil with nutrients added as shown above. I like to moisten the soil slightly and sprinkle the seeds over the soil and cover them with compost. Keep the rows about 3 inches apart and stagger planting the seeds over two to three weeks to have an abundant harvest for the season.

If you live where the heat is intense, be careful as carrots do not like to dry out. If you water them by hand for two to three weeks after planting the seeds you will soon see the little sprouts. This is when you will fertilize with some Miracle-Gro Fertilizer and thin the carrots as needed. Use mulch to cover them if you live where the summers are extremely hot.

pH level for Carrots: 5.5-7.0

3. Cucumbers

Cucumbers thrive when the weather is hot and they receive a lot of water. Plant them in full sun. If you planted seeds inside make sure you do not set your seedlings outside until the weather is in the 70-degree range. Check the last frost date and wait two weeks before planting the seedlings or seeds outside.

Decide if you want to grow bush cucumbers or cucumbers on the vine. I have always had better luck with bush cucumbers. Bush cucumbers work great in pots or in small gardens. This is why they do better in my raised gardens. I suggest you stagger when planting the seeds because you will have cucumbers bearing at different times, instead of all at the same time, a huge picking.

Cucumbers like compost and composted well-rotted manure. They need well-fertilized soil. Cucumbers grow fast and don’t depend on a lot of care or work to get them to thrive. When watering, try and keep the leaves dry, to keep leaf diseases forming. Male blooms show up first and drop off. No worries, within a week or two, a female flower will appear. If not, you may have to do hand pollination. You do this by removing the male blossom, leaving the center covered in the pollen. Use a “brush” to apply the pollen you collected to the center of the female flower.

Use metal cages for vines, the cucumbers will hang better on those because they will attach easier to the wires when growing. Plant two to three seeds about one-inch into the soil, and cover with soil. It the soil is moist and warm you will see sprouts within a few days. Plant the seeds or plants 36-60 inches apart. Bush cucumbers can be planted closer. Cucumbers grow start to finish in 50-70 days.

pH level for Cucumbers: 6.5 to 7.0

4. Lettuce

Add the amendments above to the soil where you will plant your lettuce seeds. The nice thing about lettuce is it’s so easy to grow and sprouts up pretty fast. Just make sure the soil is loosened, loamy, and well drained. Lettuce loves nitrogen and potassium, so keep your eye on the leaves as they start to grow. Work in a lot of organic matter or compost. Lettuce matures in 55 to 60 days. Romaine takes longer to mature, and so does head lettuce types.

Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep, tamp them in the soil, and water them in. Easy and simple. Read the package to space according to the lettuce you choose. Seeds will not germinate in soils above 80 degrees F. You can start some seeds indoors and transplant the seedlings into a shady spot when the weather is too hot outside. You may want to choose heat resistant varieties if you live where the temperatures get too hot in the summer. It’s better to pick early than late because the leaves become bitter.

pH level for Lettuce: 6.0-7.0

5. Melons

What To Plant In May

Melons are actually really easy to grow if you have three things, sunshine, warm weather and amended soil with well-rotted manure and organic compost. The soil temperature has to be above 70 degrees in order to germinate the seeds. I typically plant three seeds in each hole about 1-inch deep and space them 36-inches apart to allow for growth. Once the seeds grow to 3-4-inches, I choose between the three seeds that sprouted and discard the weakest of the three leaving two standing sprouts.

Melons need water because they are made up mostly of water, so never let them dry out. Be careful with the foliage because that’s where the sweetness comes from. Keep the garden weeded so you can keep an eye on the fruit when it starts to grow. To test if the fruit is ripe carefully lift the fruit and twist it, it will easily slip off the stem if ripe. SeedsNow

Late melons do not slip off the stem when ripe. Honeydews are ready to pick when the area where the melon rests on the ground turns from yellow to white.

Hales Best Cantaloupe: Day to maturity 85-100 days

Honey Rock Cantaloupe: Day to maturity 85-100 days

All Sweet Watermelon: Day to maturity 90 days

Sugar Baby Watermelon: Day to maturity 75 days

Tom Watson Watermelon: Day to maturity 85 days

Crimson Sweet Watermelon: Day to maturity 85 days

pH level for Melons: 6.0-6.5

6. Peas

Peas prefer cool weather, so March is a good month to plant your peas. You can plant them as soon as you can work your soil. If the soil temperatures are 10-20 degrees C or 50-70 degrees F that is best. The best time to sow peas are mid-February clear until the end of May. Of course, you can plant them again in July through mid-August, depending on how hot it is. If your soil is moist or damp do not soak your peas, you don’t need to. I have never soaked my peas.

Make sure your soil has the amendments it needs. I prefer bush peas, but that’s because those are the ones that seem the sweetest. My favorite ones are called Little Marvel. They only grow about two feet tall, and that works for me. They are sweet to the taste and can be harvested in about 60 days. You may want to trellis them. Plant the seeds about 4-6 inches apart and 1/2 to 1-inch deep.

pH level for Peas: 6.0-7.5

7. Peppers

Start your sweet peppers inside about 8-10 weeks before the last spring frost date in your neighborhood. I typically put three to four seeds in each seedling container and thin them down to two plants once they are about 4 inches tall. I use Miracle Grow Organic Potting soil, it works great when planting my seeds. I plant them 1/4 inch deep, cover with soil and water them.

Once the soil temperature stays above 65 degrees you are good to transplant. Be sure and “harden off” the seedlings about ten days before the transplant date. Fertilize the soil before planting the seedlings. Plant the seedlings about 18 inches apart. Sweet peppers require water and do not like the soil to dry out from the heat. They need to be watered as needed.

Canary Bell matures in approx. 100 days

Coral Bell matures in approx. 88 days

Big Red matures in approx. 75 days

California Wonder matures in approx. 75 days

pH level for Peppers: 5.5-7.0

8. Pumpkin

Once the soil temperature hits 70 degrees F you can sow the seeds outside. You’re going to want to plant the pumpkins where they will have a lot of sunshine and a lot of space to grow. The soil needs to be well-drained and very rich soil full of nutrients. Add compost and well-rotted manure before you plant the seeds. Pumpkins prefer the soil temperature to be 95 degrees F and are very sensitive to cool weather.

Plant the seeds one-inch deep with 4-5 seeds in each mounded hill. Place the hills about 6 to 12 inches apart in rows about 6-10 feet apart. You can see they take up a lot of room. The seeds germinate within a week and you will see some sprouts in 5 to 10 days.

When they reach 2 to 3 inches tall, thin them to 2 or 3 plants by clipping off the top and leaving the roots in the ground. In other words, do not disturb the plants when cutting off the ones you will not need. When they get taller, clip off the ones you will not keep and leave the strongest plant standing (as in one plant). Place mulch around the plants to discourage insects and help stop weeds from growing.

Be careful not to over-cultivate the soil around the pumpkins. They have very shallow roots and do not like to be disturbed. Use a high nitrogen fertilizer while the pumpkins are at the beginning of growth. Once you see the plants are about one foot tall and they haven’t started to “run” add a fertilizer high in phosphorus just before they start the blooming period. Once you see a few pumpkins on a vine, pinch off the fuzzy ends so the plants will stop growing and the nutrients will go to the pumpkins.

A pumpkin is ripening when it turns a deep solid color (orange is typical). Place a piece of cardboard under each pumpkin to keep insects from entering the skin of the pumpkin. When you tap the pumpkin it should sound hollow. Use a sharp knife to cut the stem 3-4 inches from the pumpkin. Let the pumpkins cure for a week before storing them in a cool dry place.

Choose your pumpkin seeds:

  • Small Sugar Pumpkins are 7 inches in diameter. Semi-bush plant. Day to maturity: 100-110 days.
  • Jack Be Little pumpkins are 4 inches wide, great for decorations. Day to maturity: 100 days.
  • Wee Be Little pumpkins are the size of a grapefruit and weigh about 14 ounces. Day to maturity: 90 days.
  • Jack O’Lantern pumpkins can produce 10-pound fruits that are thick walled, smooth-skinned, and round to slightly oblong. Day to maturity: 110 days.
  • Big Max Pumpkin can grow to 100 pounds, they are extremely large (60 inches in diameter) bright orange in color. Suitable for carving. Days to maturity: 115 to 125 days

pH Level for Pumpkins:

9. Spinach

I plant the New Zealand spinach seeds because they can withstand the heat of Southern Utah. It’s a large growing plant, but I make salads, smoothies, and freeze a lot of spinach for the year. This is one spinach variety that grows from spring to fall without any issues. The more I cut it back the more it grows, literally. Days to maturity are 75 days.

Here again, make sure your soil has the amendments above and you turn over the soil again and again. Plant the seeds at least one-foot apart and the rows two-feet apart.

pH level for Spinach: 6.0-7.5

10. Squash

Summer Squash: zucchini, crookneck, and straight-neck (harvested in the summer before they reach maturity)

Winter Squash: pumpkins, butternut, spaghetti, and acorn squash (harvested in the autumn months after they reach maturity)

When you plant the seeds, test the soil to make sure it is at least 60 degrees F. before sowing your seeds. They need full sun exposure. They need loamy soil rich in nutrients. The soil must drain properly. Plant the seeds in hills (2-3 seeds each) one-inch deep. Space them 2-3 feet apart. Thin as needed to produce the strongest plant. Use a cloche to keep the plants warm in case of cool weather. Mulch the plants to keep them moist and weed free. When the first blooms appear, fertilize the plants.

Water deeply at least one inch of water per week. The soil needs to be moist 4 inches down. If your blossom ends turn black and rot, then you have blossom rot. It’s usually caused by uneven moisture in the soil. It could be a calcium problem. Water must be consistent and frequent for the fruit to produce. If the fruits are misshapen they may not have received enough water or fertilizer. Check for fruit you can pick daily, they grow faster than you may think.

pH level for Squash: 5.5-6.8

11. Sweet Corn

Corn likes full sun, so plant accordingly. They need well-drained and fertile soil. Put 2-4 inches of compost and well-rotted manure so the soil will drain better. They need a soil level ph of 5.8 to 6.5. Add lime to raise the pH and add sulfur to lower it. Plant the seeds two weeks after the last frost in your area. It’s not recommended to plant seeds in the house and transplant, so I have always sowed them directly outside. I’ve heard of people planting them inside and transplanting them later, just giving you the heads up.

Plant the seeds 1.5 to 2-inches deep and 4-6 inches apart and in rows of three about 8-12 inches apart. You are better off to have several rows, as in three, over having one really long row. They will pollinate better from one plant to another. Please make sure the temperature of the soil is 60 degrees F. or above for successful germination. This is the Garden Thermometer I have to test my soil temperature. Fertilize often with nitrogen and phosphorus. 16-16-8 is a good choice for fertilizer. Put two pounds of 16-16-8 per 100 square feet of garden.

Once you see sprouts, corn needs an additional fertilizer of 46-0-0, so sprinkle some around those sprouts. Once the stalks have 8-10 leaves add a ratio of 1/2 pound of 46-0-0 fertilizer to 100 square feet of garden. When the silk starts developing add 1/4 pound of 46-0-0 fertilizer to 100 square feet of garden.

I recommend spacing your plantings with a few seeds every week so you can have corn for several weeks. Sweet corn is different than other vegetables. One stalk only grows 3-4 cobs and it’s done. Yep, all that work for 3 or 4 cobs, but it’s worth it, I promise.

pH level for Corn: 5.8 to 6.5

More information on growing Corn by Food Storage Moms

Final Word

I hope this post today gets you excited to start a garden, big or small. If we can produce our own lettuce in pots, that’s an accomplishment. We know the seed quality, the soil we plant them in, and whether or not they have pesticides. In other words, we will know what we are eating, and that’s a good thing. Please be prepared for the unexpected, hard times are coming. May God bless this world, Linda

What To Plant In April by Linda

This is where I purchase my vegetable seeds: SeedsNow

4 thoughts on “What To Plant In May

  • April 9, 2019 at 10:07 am
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    I received my 3 grow boxes for my deck. Still too early to plant, although I am very eager to get it started. I have noticed the people who are growing in our communal garden area (I live in an apartment complex) and they are planting way too early!! We still have the potential for frost until mid-May.

    I am figuring out the best plants to grow for maximum usage. I know I will grow a tomato plant and a cucumber plant as well as herbs. My plan is to use the grow boxes for the bigger plants but I am also going to utilize 2-3 plastic tubs for things like lettuce, radishes, carrots and possibly potatoes. My deck is small so I won’t be able to grow much! I am also toying with the idea I saw on Pinterest some time ago about using an over the door shoe thing to grow herbs rather than the grow box! I have a small storage closet on my deck and can use one of the plastic shoe things on the outside. The shoe rack thing will help me maximize my space as the door to the storage closet is wasted space otherwise.

    Reply
    • April 9, 2019 at 11:55 am
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      Oh, Leanne, I can hardly wait to see how they work for you!!! They look awesome online. Keep me posted!! Linda

      Reply
  • April 13, 2019 at 2:48 pm
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    Hi again Linda: I have a question (my last one was making your own compost instead of purchasing it). This one is about starting seeds indoors. Our grandparents didn’t have grow lights to start their seeds, so how did they do it. I lost ALL of my first inside starts the first year I tried. Since then I only sow seeds outside; I purchase all the ones that need “pre-started” from my favorite plant seller at the Farmer’s Market (all heirloom, non-GMO plants).

    So that’s the question: How do you start seeds without grow lights?

    Reply
    • April 13, 2019 at 5:33 pm
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      Hi Mary Ellen, did I miss the compost question? I started my seeds indoors without lights. I have a small home with a living room with a large window with lots of light. I use a small table and adjusted it the height of the window. I used my cookie sheets with the seeds pods. Then I transplanted the seed pods into their own 4-inch containers with more soil that are designed for starting seeds. I didn’t have any trouble. I debated on buying the lights but I have started my seeds three years in a row without them. I wonder if I can upload a picture here. Probably not here but I will on my Instagram. @foodstoragemoms

      Reply

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