May is the time to start a lot of summer cropping seeds! This includes courgette, sweetcorn, peas & beans, leaf crops and also autumn pumpkins & squash. You can also sow more of the things you did in April and get some successional growing on the go!
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What You’ll Need:
- Plant labels – I use lollipop craft sticks from Poundland, but you can also cut up empty clean milk bottles into strips and use that
- A marker pen to write on the labels
- Peat free compost
- Plant pots
- A protective cover – greenhouse, polytunnel, plastic bags over pots, or folding plastic food trays (eat the pastry first!). You could also use a stackable clear plastic box
- A drip tray if indoors – plate, bowl, drip tray, plastic fruit punnet (without holes), plastic bags also work
Choose Your Location:
A south facing room or window will be the hottest place in the house and get most direct sunlight, but any space will do. I have a mini plastic greenhouse in the garden which is north facing, but the greenhouse gets most of the sunlight each day. I also fully utilise every windowsill available!
For direct sowing, you can try lots of different things. You can grow food in hanging baskets, borders, raised beds, pots, or old tyres.
Seeds to Sow in May:
I don’t have a lot of room indoors and I don’t have a big glass greenhouse, so instead I use stackable plastic boxes! These work just as well, but remember to take the lid off when it’s hot and sunny so that the plants can breathe. This will also allow the compost to ventilate and dry out a bit which stops it going mouldy.
- Cabbage, sprouts, cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli
- French bean
- Runner bean
If you are using small 6cm pots, do one seed per pot. For 9cm pots you could do 2 seeds.
May is an ideal time to get a headstart for next year (yes, next year!). Start purple sprouting broccoli, leeks, sprouts, and kale seeds now and these crops will grow this year and then be ready to harvest next spring, giving you some early pickings.
Herbs (start under cover):
Herbs like to be warm so if you don’t have a box or a lid, pop a plastic bag over the pot and secure it with an elastic band or hair tie.
Outdoors (direct sow):
- Corn salad
- Spring onion
- Pak choi
- Orach (use it similar to spinach)
Don’t sow peas or beans next to spring onions!
Rocket, mizuna, corn salad, and spinach all prefer cooler weather so these can be planted in the shade.
Protect seedlings from birds! They will pull up seedlings thinking that they are grubs or worms. You could use taut netting, rigid plastic mesh, chicken wire, or pop bottle cloches.
Parsnip, carrot, swede, turnip, and radish do not like being transplanted so do not start these in pots – just sow the seed directly into the ground/compost.
Flowers (direct sow):
- Hollyhock (sow seed this year and they’ll flower next year)
- Sweet pea – non-edible
- Corn flower
- Cosmos – non-edible
- French marigold (tagetes) – non-edible
- Amaranthus – non-edible but looks great mixed in with veg crops!
Amaranthus seed are tiny so a packet will cover a large area.
If you already have rows of carrots with a good gap in between, you could do another row in the middle. Take a look at my amazing publisher diagram below – the blue circles are the first sowing, and then the yellow circles are where I start my successional sowing three or four weeks later. This allows you to get a lot of food crop in a small area! This works for radish, carrot, spring onion, spinach, sorrel, and parsnip.
Peas and beans produce their pods from the flowers, so one flower = one pod. If you want a bumper crop of peas and beans, you need lots of plants! Successional sowing gives you a longer cropping period so you can harvest them for a longer time over summer.
Planting Out in May:
- Aubergine into larger pots in a greenhouse or polytunnel
- Brassicas: cauliflower, calabrese, broccoli, cabbage, sprout
- Runner bean
- French bean
My pumpkins have only just been potted up, so they won’t be ready for planting out until June.
The weather has been all over the place this year so wait until all risk of night frost has gone before you plant out beans and peas.
How to Do It:
Put some peat free compost in the trays and place seeds on top of the compost. Gently press the seed in, cover them over, and water. Remember to label the trays! Use the size of the modules to decide how many seeds go in each – if the module is only 3cm wide, only put one large or two smaller seeds in.
Harvesting Food in May:
There are lots of food crops ready to harvest in May, depending on how you have grown things! Radish sown at the start of April should be ready in May, and things that you have overwintered should start to be ready too.
- Salad including lettuce, mustard, sorrel, spinach, rocket, and mizuna
- Overwintered spring onions
- Overwintered chard
- Purple sprouting broccoli – start next years crop now!
- Asparagus spears – wait until the crowns are three years old before you start harvesting
Seeds Sown in April:
Things that were started in April should be growing well as this year has been exceptionally sunny and hot.
I have sown more peas & beans every three weeks to get a good crop, and my sunflowers are growing well! These should be ready for planting in a few weeks time.
The herbs I started in April are growing and will be pricked out at the end of May when they are bigger.
Potting Up Last Months Plants:
I started some courgette, pumpkins, beans, and peas in April. The peas & beans were planted out at the end of April into the space where I am growing them, and the pumpkins, courgette & squashes have been potted up into bigger pots to encourage more roots to grow.
Next month we will be focusing on direct sowing seeds outdoors.
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