Vegetables to plant in May fi

What Vegetables to Plant in May [Sowing Outdoors and Transplanting]

May usually brings warmer, sunnier weather, longer days and the hint of summer on its way.  By the time late May arrives the riska of frost has largely passed and most seeds can be sown directly into the ground, although to a certain extent it does depend on the size of the seed.  You’ll want to use hardy seeds, if you’re sowing directly into the ground, just to be sure with the frost risk.

If you’re planting to a pattern for salad leaves then keep that going – as hopefully, if you got this right in April you’re starting to see the fruit of your labours!

Come and check out the best vegetables to plant in May – whether you’re sowing indoors or outdoors!


What Vegetables to Plant in May

The hardest decision you’ll likely have to make on what vegetables to sow in  May is what you should NOT plant.  Be very careful of overplanting.  (we did this in our first year and drowned in courgettes and tomatoes).  You need to be sure that you’ll be able to manage the vegetables that you’re planting during May as the season progresses.

If you’re planting directly into the group, then be careful with tomatoes and peppers – your soil temperature will need to consistently be above 21 degrees centigrade.  And as the temperatures stay consistent make sure that you’re able to keep the ground moist.  Tomatoes and peppers are much easier to manage when growing in pots, containers or grow-bags – although you definitely have to be on top of the watering especially when the plants start fruiting.

The vegetables that you’ll want to plant in May are varied, but obviously, it depends on what it is you want to grow.  Check our guide to the easiest vegetables to grow in the UK to see which might work best for you.  Now lets head onto some specific veggies to plant during May and what specifically you should be doing for these veggies.

Which Vegetables should you sow in May?

May’s main crops that should be sown include sweet corn (so, so good if you can get a good crop) – and you’ll definitely want to sow directly as they don’t react well to being transplanted.  If you’re planting courgettes, then these can go in too as well as cucumbers designed for the outdoors.

Any vegetables that you plant outdoors will, of course, ripen later than those which you’re growing indoors, or starting indoors, but it’s great to have this succession.

Continue with any succession sowing of salad leaves, spring onions and tomatoes to plan for your future meals!

Continue to Plant Salad Leaves in May

Growing your own salad leaves throughout the year is one of the best ways to save money by growing your own vegetables and we recommend keeping this going as long as you can.  Fill pots, containers or pick up a few grow bags which will make your life a lot, lot easier.

Grow Mushrooms May – and all year round!

Mushrooms are one of the easiest vegetables to grow at home.   The easiest way to grow mushrooms at home is with a mushroomgrowing kit.  These amazing pieces of kit (here’s the one that we got started with), come with everything you need to grow mushrooms.  Apart from water.  And a warm place.  We put together a best mushroom growing kits guide, but there are also some fabulous books on mushroom growing our best of the best vegetable growing books.  

The best way to get started with growing mushrooms is to pick an easy option – plain white button mushrooms, or go for chestnut.  Then expand out and grow oyster mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms.  Here’s some of the best kits for mushroom growing if you’re a beginner.


Sow Sweet Corn in May

While you may be able to sow sweet corn in late April, you’ll need to do that in a sheltered location.  May is a much better time to sow sweet corn and you’ll benefit from better pollination if you plant in squares, or blocks rather than rows.  

Plant Courgettes in May

If you started off some courgettes undercover in April, or put the hardiest varieties directly into the ground, then I offer a word of caution.  Because although I’m saying sow courgettes in May too, just be careful how many your sow!  I repeat my warning from the article on what to plant in April  – and that’s that courgettes are PROLIFIC.  They get huge quickly, so make sure if you’re planting a lot of them that you have a lot of great courgette recipes. Our favourite courgette seeds are here.

Plan More Beetroot in May

We LOVE beetroot here at LetsGrowCook – and now is perhaps the time to pick a few different varieties.  There’s nothing better than either a roast beet addition to a roast dinner or a mixed beet salad.  Beetroot is also one of the easiest vegetables to preserve.  So, if you started planting beetroot in April, go on, plant some more (I’ll send you my address to you and we can barter for any leftovers!)  Try Boltardy for a great crop.

plant beetroot in may

Sow Winter Veg in May

Now depending on what it is you’re planning for later in the year, May is a great time to start planting your favourite winter vegetables.  And by this, I mean cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage.  You can start these off outside directly into the ground.   They’ll be ready in the autumn and perfect for winter dinners.

Plant out your Tomatoes in May

If you’re in a warmer part of the country, and May is warm, then you can plant out tomato plants that you started off indoors, especially if you picked hardy varieties.  You’ll want to make sure that you have a cane structure to help support them, and that you have a regular watering system set up.  And yes, for me, that watering system is an alarm twice a day to remind me to do it!  Here’s more of our tomato growing secrets.

Once you’ve planted out your tomatoes you’re also going to want to consider feeding them, using specific tomato food.  Also, pinch out leafy stalks of unwanted shoots, you really want to focus the plant’s energy on the main stalks and keep it focused on fruiting later in the season.

Support Your Outdoor Peas in May

If, as we suggested in our guide on what to plant in April you sowed your pea seeds into a length of guttering, then now will be the time to transplant them into the ground.  Be sure it’s well watered.  Or, make it easier on yourself and grow peas in pots, like we describe here. Also, make sure that you have a good support system to hold your pea plants up.

Look after your Potatoes in May!

We recommend growing potatoes in bags or containers – it’s just a seriously easy way to manage space and keep an eye on this crop.  Our full in-depth guide on how to grow potatoes in bags is here. When you can see around 15 centimetres of growth you need to add more compost.  This is called “earthing up”.  You need to ensure that none of the young tubers are exposed to the light.  If the tubers are exposed they become green and inedible.   This process of earthing up (and its not a one time exercise, you will need to do it regularly!) also encourages more tubers to form – and, if there happens to be a frost, it will also protect them from the frost!  Get more compost here for your potatoes.

What to Grow in May in the Herb Garden

I’m seriously hoping that you started off some seeds in April, it means that by now you’ll be starting to see some progress.  Perhaps some basil shoots and coriander. If you did sow basil and coriander in April, then towards the end of the month you can harden them off and plant them outside if you’d like to.

Sow Basil Outside in May

You may have started basil off inside in April, and you can move it outside if the weather has warmed up.  However, May is also a good time to start basil outside too. Growing your own herbs is one of our 14 simple tips to save money – read all of them here.

vegetables and herbs to plant in may basil

Take Herb Cuttings in May

If you have marjoram, sage or thyme you can take cuttings of it in May and start them off inside.  Read about how to start your own herb garden here.

All our monthly vegetable planting guides

Final words on what sow in May in the vegetable garden

The weather in May tends to change for the better.  You’ll have longer days and hopefully warmer weather.  So if you’ve missed April, you can still plant out what you missed, but start to move on other vegetables and continue succession planting so that you have a steady amount of vegetables and herbs for the rest of the year.   We hope that you’re also starting to see some of the salad leaves that you might have planted in April coming through and that they’re making it to your meals!

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