May marks the end for some winter favorites that were thriving in Gandy’s Garden last month, but the hotter days bring a promise of sweet treats fresh from the garden. If you found last May to be a challenge for your garden, there could be some good news in your forecast!
Comparing May 2019 to my forecast for the month
As a meteorologist and a gardener, I know May is a tricky month. Last May was defined by dry weather and extreme heat across the southeastern U.S. and that made it very difficult for gardeners. In Columbia, May 2019 was the second warmest on record (the warmest since the 1800s). The temperature soared to 100 degrees on 5 days last May, which is an all time record for a month that has only reached 100 degrees 7 other years.
The weather this May is trending closer to average. As of May 1st, we still haven’t reached 90 degrees in Columbia for the year which is already a day later than the average. While there will be warm periods this month and the pattern may support less frequent rain, there will be breaks between the heat through at least the early part of the month. There aren’t any signs of excessive heat for the next few weeks, which is promising news for gardens that are just getting established.
What can you plant in May?
Although our growing season is well underway, there are still plenty of things you can start from seed and get a lot of produce from during the summer. Squash, watermelon, okra, and corn actually prefer the warmer soil of May and perform well when the seeds are planted directly into the ground. Tomatoes and eggplant are better started indoors earlier in the year, but in Gandy’s Garden we planted tomatoes directly into the ground about 4 weeks ago and they are coming along very nicely. Many ornamental plants like Sunflowers and Nasturtiums are easy to start from seed and can be sown in the ground just about any time of the year with great results.
In Gandy’s Garden, I started Watermelon from seed a few weeks ago but just planted the seedlings in the ground at the end of April. They’re coming along nicely. Sweet potatoes aren’t typically started from seed, they’re usually grown from fragments of the sweet potato rhizome. Local nurseries sell start plants this time of the year and May is the perfect time to let them sprawl out.
What are you planting in May? Join the conversation on our Facebook Group WLTX Gandy’s Gardeners.