The Vegetable Garden

Zones 5-6 Garden Calendar and Monthly Garden Tips - April - May

April:

  • This is the big month for planting vegetables, however if planted too early, frost will kill your plants unless you are prepared to protect them on those cold nights.
  • Stake tomatoes or provide cages to surround them.
  • Plants started indoors in March or bought at your local market, should be hardened off outdoors in cold frames before being transplanted into the garden .
  • Peppers and eggplants take 8 to 10 weeks to reach transplant size, and should be set out sometime around Memorial Day!
  • Spread manure or compost and till the soil. Get potatoes, peas and onions planted as soon as the soil is dry enough to work. Sow lettuce, radishes, spinach and other cool-season greens.
  • Start a second round of the cabbage family vegetables indoors under lights or in the cold frame.
  • Small , sturdy seedlings raised under fluorescent lights for 12 to 16 hours per day will take off rapidly once planted outside in warmer weather.
  • Start cucumber, cantaloupe, summer squash, and watermelon seeds indoors in peat pots. It is necessary to start the vining vegetables in peat pots because they do not transplant well when the roots are disturbed.
  • Any tender crops planted or tomato transplants set out at this time may be subject to late frost.
  • Asparagus and rhubarb harvests begin.
  • Keep your hoe sharp! Don't allow weeds to get an early start in your garden.

May:

  • Until mid-month continue planting lettuce, onions, spinach, beets, chard, carrots, parsnips, radishes, turnips, shallots, chives and parsley.
  • Start squash, cucumbers, melons and okra indoors. Transplant in the garden when all danger of frost is past.
  • When the soil warms to 60 degrees F. transplant tomatoes, peppers, and sweet potatoes outdoors; harden them off first and be prepared to protect the tender transplants from frost with plastic jugs with the bottoms cut out. Stake the tomato plants as you transplant to prevent root damage.
  • Keep potatoes well mulched. Keep in mind potatoes do not grow deeper in the soil then they are planted, the new potatoes start forming on the stem node nearest the seed potato and extends upward toward the soil surface. This is the reason for hilling or mulching.
  • Toward the latter part of the month it is safe to plant sweet corn. Check the maturity days of the sweet corn and sow seed for early, mid-season and late crops.
  • Direct-sow bush beans, pumpkins and winter squash.
  • Continue harvesting asparagus through-out the month of May.