Welcome to our vegetable garden calendar May job list, part of our month to month guide to vegetable gardening. Here is your gardening list for the month of May.
Each month we will expand our calendar so that you will have a month to month guide to vegetable gardening, you will then be able to follow our guide to help keep you on track.
The arrival of May signals the departure of the colder weather, and as the risk of frost starts to dissipate, the warmer soil is beginning to reward your efforts in the garden.
But as the ideal growing conditions arrive, so do the weeds. With a sharp hoe and an eager eye, you should manage to keep these unwanted guests in check.
Weeding is not often described as a job that people love to do, but if you manage a little, often, you should avoid the chore of clearing a plot of overgrown monsters.
There is nothing more disheartening than seeing
your vegetables engulfed in weeds, and our pampered vegetable plants
will definitely struggle when competing with a less fussy, over
Although things are starting to warm, depending upon where you live, there could still be a risk of frost, so horticultural fleece needs to be on hand, just in case. It is helpful to know your final frost date, if it's the 29th of April May is almost guaranteed to be frost free. It doesn't pay to get complacent, as every year it seems that some weather record or another is broken.
Take a look at the when to plant vegetables page for a map of final frost dates.
Another important job for this month is to thin carrots and parsnips. If you have sown these root veggies earlier in the year, they are sure to have germinated and will need to be pricked out to ensure their proper spacing.
Vegetable spacing should be followed as they it is used to provide you with the best size plant to the space they’ll need to flourish, although in pots and raised beds you can grow a little closer.
It's best to thin carrots to half spacing to allow the next thinning to be large enough to add to salads as carrot fingerlings.
A word of warning when thinning carrots and parsnips, the carrot root fly is very active this time of year and the smell of the bruised foliage of these plants will bring her like a homing pigeon to its loft. Make sure that you erect a barrier around the remaining carrots and parsnips as she will only fly at a height of a few inches and will never find your plants if they are protected by a barrier.
May is also the month where your greenhouse plants such as peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines can be put into their final location. Plant an upside down empty milk bottle with the bottom cut off so that you can effectively water and feed these plants as they get thirsty in the hotter months.
Again, as with April, May is a busy sowing month, and if you have not already done so this is your last chance to sow parsnips, pumpkins, winter squash, kale, salsify, scorzonera, cucumber, broad beans, runner beans, purple sprouting broccoli, Brussel sprouts and summer cauliflowers.
Squashes should be started in May, ideally under glass in 3 inch pots and as they grow quickly, planted out as soon as they are large enough. Summer squash is a great main crop. This versatile vegetable can be used cold for salads, as an ingredient to pasta dishes and veggy chilli, it can also be frozen for the winter, and as a base for soups. If you eat a lot of this fantastic vegetable, grow six to eight plants.
French beans, runner beans, climbing French beans, mangetout and main crop peas can also be started under glass early in the month.
Swede and turnip can be directly sown, as can your succession sowing of salads, beetroot, radish, kohlrabi, broccoli, calabrese, cabbage, cauliflower and carrots. Also directly sow beets such as perpetual spinach, Swiss chard, ruby chard and leaf beet.
You may prefer to give climbing peas and beans an early start in pots, but you can also directly sow them towards the end of May, or earlier if this is a particularly warm season or you live in an area where there is absolutely no risk of any frost. If you sow 2 seeds per cane you will be sure to have a plant for every climbing position.
Sweetcorn can be sown as soon as the soil is warm enough, but beware of the weather and have protection ready, clear plastic soda pop bottles with the bottoms cut off make great tiny greenhouses to cover these sensitive plants. And make sure that you follow the recommended spacing for sweet corn as pollination is everything and if they are too close together your cobs will fail.
Of course what you can be eating in May will depend upon what you have planted. Lettuces should be abundant and the thinning’s of carrots will make a nice addition to salads. If you started potatoes undercover you should be enjoying some delicious early new potatoes. Winter cauliflowers should be ready, as well as spring cabbage, kale and the last of the purple sprouting broccoli.
Winter onions, towards the end of May should have started to swell, and in a good year you could have some fresh garlic to try.
One crop which is a real treat in May will have needed to have been planted some years ago, if you are fortunate to have an establish bed you could be eating some delicious, freshly cut asparagus.
And don’t forget to look for wild garlic, and if it is warm, you may be lucky enough to find some wild strawberries.