The Master Gardener - May Gardening Tips |
Written by Master Gardener Ira Wallace, of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and the Central Virginia Master Gardeners
When May comes around it’s time to plant your main summer garden!
Thin your beets and carrots two weeks after they emerge to give them space and keep them growing vigorously. Early May is a good time to direct sow your first rows of green beans. To keep summer time weeds under control and save your aching back, hoe regularly on sunny days and hand weed when the ground is wet.
It’s time to harvest rhubarb and asparagus. At the same time, give them a quick weeding and maintain a thick mulch. Mulching now saves time and trouble later.
To keep a good supply of tasty greens coming as the weather warms, succession plant heat-resistant lettuces such as Sierra and Jericho, and other summer greens such as Malabar spinach, orach and rainbow chard.
Hill your potatoes when they are 8 inches high. Cover half the plant and repeat again at two week intervals through May. Keep an eye out for Colorado potato beetles and the clusters of their yellow eggs underneath the leaves of your potatoes. Squash the eggs and pick off the beetles by hand. I know it’s yucky but early in the season, this is the time to do it. Or you can use BT to control them.
Mid-month, transplant tomatoes, celery, and peppers into pre-mulched beds to keep ahead on weeding. Transplant eggplants into bare soil for better control of flea beetles. If flea beetles are getting the better of your eggplants, catch them in a bucket or bowl made sticky on the inside with “tangle foot” or Vaseline. Put the bucket or bowl under your plant and just shake’em in.
Every month, my very experienced gardening buddy Pam Dawling at Twin Oaks, posts what she is doing in her wonderful, big vegetable garden. Her blog can be found at this link http://sustainablemarketfarming.com/news. She also has a great new book, Sustainable Market Farming, which gives detailed info on what to plant, when to plant it, and how to keep it healthy.
The trick to having a steady supply of beans, squash, cucumbers and greens throughout the gardening season is succession planting. It’s not so much work as your first spring planting. Just keep sowing small amounts of this and that, where you have space. As summer comes on, add more beans, corn, cukes, and squash to your succession plantings.
Oh, what about your garlic and perennial onions that have been livening up in the late winter and spring? It’s time to remove the scapes and weed so you’ll to get the largest bulbs. Late in May, remove the mulch so the bulbs will start to dry out for harvest sometime in June, depending on the weather.
As the soil warms at the end of May, sow peanuts, okra, edamame, sweet potatoes and other hot weather crops. Don’t forget to eat lots of strawberries and savor sugar snap peas while you weed.
Here are some exciting opportunities for learning right here in Louisa County!
Plant A Row for the Hungry
There’s a planting workshop and a Plant A Row For The Hungry grand opening event at the Louisa County Resource Center, May 11, 2013. The event is from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon and open to everyone.
Plant a Row (PAR) is a program that encourages gardeners to plant an extra row of produce to provide fresh food for their local food bank. PAR started in 1995, sponsored by the Garden Writers Association. Since then it’s produced over 15 million pounds of food nationally for hungry and economically disadvantaged Americans. Some of them are your neighbors, so your help is appreciated. Helping in our goal of providing high-quality, nutritious food for our community members are the Central Virginia Master Gardeners, in partnership with the Louisa County Resource Council, the Cooperative Extension Office, and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. We get generous support from Louisa Southern States, Purcell Lumber, Louisa True Value Hardware, and other local businesses.
In April, PAR Resource Center Garden got off to a great start when twenty-two teens from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship helped the local Plant-A-Row for the Hungry organization build raised beds, planted spring crops and berry bushes, and painted and cleaned up around the Louisa County Resource Center. The teens were hosted by the Louisa Baptist Church and worked with adult volunteers from PAR sponsors - the Central Virginia Master Gardeners and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.
Our first educational event of the PAR season was a 2 hour “Introduction to Organic Gardening” class held at the Louisa County Library. The class covered the basics you need to get started in vegetable gardening and drew 25 citizens eager to learn. (See Editor’s note at the end of this article.)
We hope you will join us at the Plant a Row Teaching Garden Saturday May 11th for a fun and educational morning planting tomatoes, peppers, beans, melons and the rest of our main summer
garden. Participants will leave with starter plants and seeds to Plant A Row for the Hungry in their own home gardens.
If you have questions or want to make a pledge to PAR, please call the Resource Center at (540) 967-1510 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Memorial Day Herb Fest
Learn about growing, harvesting, nourishing, and healing with herbs and vegetables as you make them part of your everyday life. Join the celebration and meet other local folks interested in herbs and organic living. For a complete list of topics check out: www.ForrestGreenFarm.com
Twin Oaks Herb Garden Tours
Those of you interested in starting or expanding your herb garden may want to join herbalists Hildegard Ott and Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for a Twin Oaks Herb Garden Tour, Saturday, May 18, 2013 . The day starts with a tour of the large country-style herb garden and includes information on traditional herbal remedies, plant preparations, syrups, extracts, teas and salves. Later on, you can enjoy herbal teas, served with sweet and savory treats, followed with an opportunity to purchase herb plants. Hildegard will have a large assortment of herb plants available, potted or freshly dug from the garden to help you get a good start with your herb garden.
Twin Oaks Herb Garden Tour and Herbal Treats - $10.00
Call or email Hildegard to register at 540-894-5126 or Hildegard@twinoaks.org.
(Editor’s Note: I attended the “Introduction to Organic Gardening” class in April and Ira herself taught the class. Ira’s relaxed style and informal class gave us gardening novices loads of helpful information. And, Ira generously entertained our many, many questions and provided much needed answers. Thank you, Ira, for providing such a wonderful, FREE class!)