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What to Plant in May: Best Vegetables to Sow | Almanac.com

What to Plant in May: Best Vegetables to Sow

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Let's see what vegetables can be planted now!

What plants can you sow in May? Now that spring is officially in full swing, you may worry you’re behind in planting. Don’t! Here are ten tasty vegetable crops you can still start this month.

Have ave you noticed how growth seems to be doubling by the week‽  This month’s sowings include warm-season staples, some of the most useful vegetable garden flowers, and our favorite leafy green.

Sweet Corn

One of the highlights of the harvest is sinking your teeth into a crisp, juice-popping cob of sweet corn. There’s no comparison to garden corn; as soon as it’s harvested, the more the sweetness turns to starch.

Sow sweet corn directly into the soil in a location with plenty of sunshine and warmth. Make a hole with your finger about 1 inch deep into loose soil, drop in your seed, and cover it over. Space each seed about a foot or a touch more apart—that’s around 30-40cm—in a grid pattern. You can sow a couple of seeds in each hole and thin them to leave the strongest seedlings, making sure you get a plant at each position.

It’s really important to plant corn in blocks rather than long rows because it’s pollinated by the wind, so planting in a block will give you a better chance of success no matter which way the wind blows. Nighttime temperatures really need to be above about 50°F or 10°C, so if it’s still a bit fresh at night, pop a row cover of garden fleece over the sown area to trap a little more warmth, and keep this in place for as long as you can to protect the young seedlings. 

If you live in a cold climate, corn can be sown into plug trays to avoid wasting time once the weather’s warmed up. See the video for details on sowing inside or in a greenhouse.

Try an early, super-sweet variety of corn, which will both give those deliciously sweet cobs and increase the chances of a good spring-planted crop.

Super-Sweet Corn Varieties

  1. Illini Xtra Sweet Hybrid
  2. Natural Sweet
  3. Sugar Buns
  4. Sweetness
  5. Early Xtra Sweet
  6. Ovation
  7. Earlibird
  8. Incredible
  9. Swift

See the Almanac’s more in-depth growing guides for corn

Climbing Beans

Beans, glorious beans! What is there more handsome?  Again, sowing green beans directly into the ground is the easiest option. Plant about 6 inches apart at the bottom of a bean arch or other support, such as a teepee of bamboo canes or a wire framework or trellis.  (However, in cold climates, you can sow in plug trays away from the final growing area just for that invaluable peace of mind and certainty. See video.) 

Consider two types of climbing beans: a French bean and a runner bean. They produce distinctive pods with very different textures, which allows you to enjoy a bit of variety this way. The flowers alone make climbing beans worth growing; in fact, beans were originally grown as ornamentals rather than for their edible pods.

Once they’re up, keep beans and corn lightly watered. The beans will go out against their supports as soon as they’re big enough to handle, as they’ll do fine so long as it isn’t frosty. Then, once they’ve started growing up, top up the soil with a lovely mulch to keep the roots cool and moist, which is an essential consideration as beans are very thirsty. See the complete guide to growing green beans.

Growing green beans. Credit: Brytta/Getty Images

Celery 

If you have had any problems with celery pests in the past, one trick is to grow it somewhere different to avoid any risk of leaf miner pupae that may have overwintered in the soil. Also, grow under insect mesh to stop pests from flying in.

(The Garden Planner can help you keep track of what you grew where in previous seasons.)

Celery is less likely to bolt or flower if it’s sown when it’s a bit warmer, so it’s important not to sow too soon. Earlier sowings can sometimes bolt because colder snaps trick the young plant into thinking they’ve been through winter already, and the plants naturally want to flower in their second year. But if they do bolt, leave the delicate frilly flowers as a food source for the beneficial bugs.

It’s worth sowing a self-blanching variety of celery. All that means is that there’s no need to make trenches or bank soil up against the stems to get those lovely crisp, crunchy stalks we’re all after. By growing these fairly close together (around 9 inches or 23cm apart in a block formation ), they’ll naturally produce stems like that. 

Self-Blanching Celery Varieties

  1. Golden Self Blanching
  2. Green Utah
  3. Victoria
  4. Granada
  5. Celebrity
  6. Lorreta
  7. Blush
  8. Tango
  9. Tall Utah

Celery enjoys being sown into enriched, moist soil, which I’ll keep well-watered at all times. Celery loves super moist soil, making this a fantastic choice if you have a very wet area. They’ll also appreciate a good mulch as they get going to keep soil moisture locked in. Learn more in our complete guide to growing celery.

Garden celery. Photo credit: Yuris/Shutterstock.

Edible Flowers

Don’t forget to give your garden something to buzz about with two easy-growing, always happy power flowers: borage and nasturtium.

Borage
Borage grows quickly, and you will be amazed at how much our striped and fuzzy, buzzing friends loved the sky-blue blooms. And, as an added bonus, you can eat the flowers – they give a lovely refreshing quench to just about any summer drink! Learn more about growing beautiful borage—great for the garden and your health!

Borage can be sown directly in a sunny spot. Start by forking over the soil to fluff it up, and then just poke in the seeds. Keep seedlings watered in drier weather, but the other great joy of borage is that it is pretty self-reliant. And as it’s not an especially hungry plant, it won’t need feeding either – it even does well in less-than-perfect, slightly poor soils.

Breathtaking blue borage is beloved by bees and pollinators!

Nasturtium
Another reliable annual flower that pollinators love is nasturtium, and again, just poke in seeds here and there. Consider a trailing variety of nasturtium to channel it out of the way or set up supports to get it up off the ground to add a beacon of sunshine color. You can eat peppery nasturtium flowers and leaves in salads and even eat the seed pods in moderation, so they are super useful flowers. See our complete guide to growing nasturtium

Swiss Chard

Chard is one of our favorite leafy greens with luscious leaves and stupendous stems. There are two sowing windows for chard. 

  1. Sow in spring – now – for leaves throughout the summer and into autumn. 
  2. Then sow again in midsummer for plants that will overwinter, ready to launch into leaf production the following spring.

Like celery, a cold snap early on can risk chard bolting, so don’t be tempted to sow too early. 

As with the other vegetables, chard can be planted directly into the ground or, in colder areas, sown into pots or plugs to be planted later. Ensure the soil has been amended by compost, lightly fork over, and then sow. Drop two seeds into each position, setting each pair of seeds about 8 inches or 20cm apart. 

With chard, choose a colorful variety—one with shocks of color to its midribs and veins. These types of chard look gorgeous, particularly when backlit in the morning or evening sun – food for the soul and the body. Choose one color or a mix of colors, which you can often find sold as ‘Rainbow Mix’ or similar.

Keep chard gently watered and mulch the plants as they grow with a top-up of garden compost and perhaps some dried grass clippings to protect and gradually improve the soil. See the complete guide to growing chard.

Colorful Swiss Chard. Credit: Nancy Kennedy/Getty Images

Now is a great moment in the sowing calendar. There’s still time to sow squash-family crops, broccoli, beets and so many other vegetable garden staples. Check out April’s sowing information if you missed it, because everything featured in that video is also good to sow now!

About The Author

Benedict Vanheems

Benedict Vanheems is the author of GrowVeg and a lifelong gardener with a BSc and an RHS General Certificate in horticulture. Read More from Benedict Vanheems

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Anne (not verified)

3 weeks 3 days ago

thanks!