I’m Frequently Asked What to Sow In May. There Are Many Fruit & Veg That Can Be Sown in May. Here’s My List. Which Ones Will You Sow?
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Virtually everything in the What to Sow in April list can also be sown in May. Plus I have a few extra suggestions.
Last year(2020) it was very warm in May, so far this year it looks like being much colder and people keep telling me they have had yet another frost. But the days are getting longer and there is at least the promise of warmer days.
It isn’t too late to sow tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergine, peppers and courgettes this month. In fact, many people claim it’s better now than earlier. A lot depends on where you live of course and when you can expect your last frost. Last frost dates are based on averages over many years so bear that in mind. The dates suggested are guides at best and could be later or even earlier. I like to note my last frost date in my calendar each year so I can see if it changes over the years .. climate change will no doubt affect it long term.
My last frost was at the end of April, which is two weeks later than normal.
There is so much we can sow this month. I’ve listed over 50 crops and haven’t included everything you could sow. I’ll be adding more later but for now, here’s my list.
I’ve a confession when it comes to Asparagus peas. I think they look wonderful, but I don’t eat them. They are not to my taste at all.
But many people love them and they also look good in the flower garden!
There are plenty of crops I do live though. And many of them are listed below.
Though I prefer to sow earlier in the year it’s not too late to sow early in May.
Basil is one of my staples. I sow it every month of the year. When sown in May it grows very quickly. For best results pinch it out to make it bush up.
Whether it’s the traditional red beetroot or the rainbow mixtures beet are always a good crop to grow. I prefer multiseed blocks but you can direct drill in the soil if you wish.
A little more unusual but worth growing for the beans which will keep a long time for adding to stews etc later in the winter.
When I had my market garden in Bedfordshire I was right in the centre of Brussels country. Loads were exported with many farmers growing over a hundred acres each year.
Loved by cabbage white butterflies but worth growing if you’ve space. The size they mature at is affected by the planting density. So if you want big ones grow further apart and if you want small ones, grow them closer together.
My grandfather described them as fancy food. But they are just one of the many brassicas we are able to grow in the UK.
Carrots are a staple crop for many gardeners. They come in various shapes, sizes and colours (wild carrots arent orange, the Dutch bred the first orange ones), so choose one to suit your conditions.
Another brassica that responds to the spacing we give them. Just like cabbage does.
I love the bitter flavour of chicory. Worth growing for something a bit different in a salad. A sweeter one is Pain de Sucre (Sugarloaf)
Don’t go too late with Chinese cabbage as they do best in cooler weather .. but by choosing varieties carefully they will be OK in all but the hottest summers.
For adding fresh to salads or for drying for later use. I love the flower which is also edible.
Cima di rapa
It sounds a bit fancy but it translates as turnip tops. A trusted veg in Italy where they grow 10-15 varieties., that take 40-90 days to mature depending on variety.
Coriander is a leaf crop I eat every week .. often several days in a row. It’s great in Indian dishes but equally as good in salads. I sow them every month of the year and if grown in winter tolerate a hard frost in the unheated greenhouse.
You don’t need many plants to get a glut of fruit and the seed germinate very easily. So the packets of seed never seem to empty. Fortunately, the seed keeps a few years. Grow them in well-manured ground and remember the more you water them the more fruit you’ll get.
Another reliable cropper that, if well fed and watered, will give you a glut of fruit.
A herb too few people grow. I like it in the flower garden as it looks so beautiful.
There are short types and climbing types of fine beans and this is the short one. They crop heavily and reliably if well irrigated.
Endamame beans are immature soya beans, still green and succulent. They are used in oriental cookery and when served as beans without the pod they are called mukimame. Edamame beans have been grown in China for other 7000 years.
As opposed to Bronze fennel which I grow as a decorative plant in my borders. Though Florence fennel is also highly decorative. But this one has a “bulb” that is delicious and can be eaten raw or cooked.
This image was taken last year in my No Dig garden
To my mind, they taste more of garlic than chives. But an interesting crop just the same.
Think Italian basil! I prefer the standard basil but still grow Genovese from time to time as the flavour is slightly different and that’s good.
There are so many different kinds of kale that they deserve a page of their own..That’s for another day.
Today let’s think about baby kale leaves, annual kale and perennial kale. Perennial kale is grown from cuttings as it rarely seeds. But the others are seed grown and delicious. There was a time when kale was a string tasting veg Today’s varieties are sweet and often nutty flavoured.
Kohlrabi roughly translates as German turnip. It’s not actually a turnip, it’s a form of wild cabbage. Both the swollen stem and leaves are edible.
Komatsuna (Mustard Spinach)
AKA Japanese mustard greens is a very hardy brassica … not spinach at all (aren’t plant names confusing. In Latin it’s Brassica rapa var. perviridis . The viridis part of the name means green and this is a very vivid green leaf crop.
I love Lambs lettuce aka corn salad. It a low growing annual, Valerianella locusta, that is grown as a leaf veg. I tend to grow it all year around as I live it’s nutty crisp flavour.
Sowing can start as early as March but May is ok for successive crops. Choose a variety that suits the time of year and your conditions. Leeks can be harvested all winter and we’ve just harvested the last of last years crop. And we’ve some Nipper leeks ready to fill the gap.
Nipper are a ten-week maturity leek. Unusual but tasty.
Crisp, Cos, butterhead …. there are dozens of lettuce types to choose from. All acre grown from seed and mature in weeks rather than months at this time of year. In good conditions in mid summer lettuce can go from seed to a cut heart in 6-7 weeks. It sounds fast … but this is a fast growing crop.
Marrow are grown-up courgettes. What else is there to say, except marrow can be stored for months whilst courgettes have a short life span.
Melon responds well to warmth, especially warmth around the roots. So people often grow them on a compost heap.
There are several types and many varieties to choose from.
A salad leaf crop with a deeply dissected leaf. It’s fast-growing, hardy and tasty.
Mustard wasabi can be grown as a microgreen or grown as an annual with large light green serrated leaf that grow in loosely packed heads.
OK, so most people grow nasturtium in the flower garden. But the leaves and flowers are edible and I’ve just sown some for adding to salads.
Curly or flat-leafed varieties exist. The general consensus is that the curly varieties are decorative and flat ones tasty.
A form of Chinese cabbage that grows well from sowing in May. Also known as Bok choy it’s great in stir fries … or even eaten raw.
I prefer to sow earlier but May is possible if the crop is given every chance to grow away without a check.
Grow them now for shoots, mange tout, or fresh peas. There are tall-growing varieties and short varieties. Peas are a tribute to the work of Gregor Mendel and it’s worth reading the article that explains his work.
Perpetual spinach is related to beetroot. It seldom bolts in the first year and sown now and you are likely to still be harvesting leaves this time next year … and maybe even longer.
For pumpkin pie or Halloween. You decide. How heavy will your pumpkin grow. Give them plenty of water and feed and they yield very heavily.
One of the fastest-growing crops you’ll possibly ever grow. They vary in size, flavour, colour, and length of time they take to mature. But you can get a crop from seed to table in four weeks. I prefer the long-rooted varieties such as Dragon.
Red Orach (Atriplex hortensis var. Rubra)
Sometimes called French spinach this is a hardy annual that is a beautiful red colour so can be grown as a decorative plant or for eating.
It’s good in salads or steamed as a main course veg.
Wild rocket is great in salads and like others in the family, they are peppery and tasty.
This is a crop that can yield very heavily if fed and watered well. This is a crop that yields well to irrigation, but even without it can provide more beans than you’ll be able to handle. So think about how you can use so many beans. They are great in pickles and chutneys.
Samphire needs salty water. Preferably sea water. But that’s the most complicated bit about growing samphire.
Samphire is great with fish dishes.
Known as scallions in the US but eaten worldwide. Direct sow or grown in multi-seeded modules they are a fast crop at this time of year. Rest in salads but they can be cooked as well.
Butternut squash is probably the best known but there are others that come in various shapes and sizes. Squash respond well to water and feed.
In Devon, we traditionally grow swede on red soils because they respond well to these conditions. It’s a crop that’s fallen out of favour which is a pity as they are great in stews and other dishes. I like them roasted.
Sweetcorn is a form of maize where sweetness has been selected for whereas maize is selected for protein content to feed cattle.
Direct drill into the soil this month and they’ll mature this year with no problem … which makes growing them in lots snd transplanting a lot of faff.
Plant them in a block rather than a row and you’ll get a better yield due to improved wind pollination.
I tend to think of Swiss chard as a more colourful spinach. I’m sure there’s more to it than that. But where the real difference lies is in that variety of colours. It comes in reds, yellows, pinks etc. Hence the alternative name … rainbow chard.
There’s a winter savoury as well. So make you have the right one.
There’s standard tarragon and Russian tarragon. I prefer the flavour of the standard one. The aniseed flavour goes well with chicken in my kitchen.
An interesting alternative to basil. Try it.
I’ve written whole articles on tomatoes so will say no more here.
Ranging from pure white to yellow plus white with a red/pink shoulder I think we should grow more turnips. They are much better than many people give them credit for.
A really simple crop to grow. I start them in recycled grape punnets and sit them in less than an inch of water Then I keep harvesting … month after month. It’s that simple.
Watermelon isn’t really to my taste. But many people love them and they respond well to irrigation.