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Fruit & vegetable growing guide for May

24th May 2022

May is often one of the busiest months in the garden as the soil is generally warmer and the growing conditions are perfect. Although the conditions mean plants grow well during the month, you still have to watch out for a sneaky late frost so you will need to keep an eye on the weather forecast and prepare for some last-minute protection for your fruit and vegetables.

There is a long list of vegetables to plant in May in the UK as well as fruits, and on top of sowing, there are plenty of other jobs to get on with. If you suffer from a mobility problem that means you have to use aids such as stair lifts or need a walking frame, then for certain garden jobs like raking the ground, you may need to ask for assistance.

This guide looks at the vegetables to plant in May in the UK and the fruit you can also plant as well as the other jobs you can consider doing throughout the month.

Vegetables to plant in May in the UK

There are plenty of vegetables to plant outdoors in the UK during May and here you can read on to find out which vegetables you can start planting and what you need to consider.

French and runner beans

French and runner beans are some of the most productive and pretty crops for small spaces and are a hugely popular vegetable to grow. They are commonly grown up a wigwam of canes and are usually sown straight into the ground or in large pots.

Up The Plot, a blog about growing vegetables and fruit in allotments, talks about growing runner beans. They said: “They require a sunny position and moisture-retentive soil so the addition of garden compost or well-rotted manure before planting will help. They are thirsty plants that should not be allowed to dry out. Runner beans are not hardy so should not be planted out until the risk of frost has passed.”

Runner beans can be sown in April in some areas of the UK, but they are generally best sown from May to June. Gardeners do often sow an additional batch of French or runner beans in June as this can help extend the season and it will give you more beans in the late summer months.

If you are planting runner beans you will need canes or bean poles to allow them to climb up the structure. Up The Plot says the canes need to be spread out appropriately: “For a wigwam, push the canes firmly into the ground in a circle and tie them together near the top. For rows, the canes should be about 40cm apart with the rows 75cm apart.”

READ MORE: Fruit & vegetable growing guide for April

Squashes

Squashes come in all shapes and sizes, from large pumpkins to tiny patty pans. There are different types of squashes such as pumpkins, butternuts and summer squashes.

Squashes are usually sown indoors to get them off to an early start and are then planted out after the last of the frosts occur. This method is a popular one for many gardeners as it gives you an earlier and larger crop and keeps seedlings safe from slugs and snails.

You can sow the seeds outdoors in late May and you should look to sow two or three seeds at each sowing site, 2.5cm (1in) deep, then cover with cloches, jars or plastic.

Beth, a horticulturist and the garden writer behind the Pumpkin Beth blog, talks about sowing pumpkins in May: “Pumpkins are so much fun to grow! You can sow pumpkin and squash seeds in a greenhouse, on your windowsill, or outside with protection from the elements this month. Pumpkins aren’t fond of cold weather – they won’t tolerate frost. So do ensure you wait for warm weather conditions, and harden your plants off, by gently acclimatising them to life outdoors during the daytime, and then bringing your plants back undercover for extra protection at night for at least two weeks prior to planting outside. Remember to protect your seedlings if cold weather is forecast.”

READ MORE: Fruit & vegetable growing guide for March

Cucumbers

Cucumbers can add a crisp and fresh taste to your salads and are the perfect summer vegetable. They are also easy to grow yourself from seed and there are a whole host of varieties you can choose from which range from the traditional longer varieties to the smaller varieties.

Although outdoor cucumbers are able to cope with lower temperatures, they should be sown in a sunny area of your garden. Some varieties can be trained so they grow up a support and others can just be left to sprawl. It is important that you buy outdoor cucumbers and not the greenhouse varieties, but if you are unsure about what is an outdoor variety, you should ask an expert at the gardening centre you are buying the seeds from.

Gardening experts Thompson & Morgan share some tips for people about the different types of cucumbers you can buy:

  • 'Masterpiece' AGM: Short and straight, these cucumbers are dark green in colour.
  • 'Marketmore' AGM: Disease-resistant, tasty, and prolific, this is a very popular variety.
  • 'Crystal Apple': A heritage variety, this plant produces prolific golf-ball-sized fruits (if picked regularly) with crisp, sweet, tender flesh.
  • 'Burpless Tasty Green' F1 Hybrid: High-vitamin content and flavourful, these cucumbers are crisp and delicious.
  • 'Jogger' F1 Hybrid: A reliable variety that performs well even during poor growing seasons, the fruits it produces are crisp, yet juicy, and not bitter.
  • 'Goblin' F1 Hybrid: These snack-sized mini cucumbers have a semi-trailing habit and grow well in containers.

READ MORE: Fruit & vegetable growing guide for February

Cauliflowers

Cauliflowers like cool growing conditions with quite high humidity and when you plant them you will need to water them regularly. Healthy and well-fed soil is vital as cauliflowers prefer deep rich soil.

You can sow cauliflowers in early May and early June for a long cropping season and it is generally recommended that you start by sowing them in modular trays. However, you can sow them directly into the ground, but by doing this your cauliflowers might not develop at the same rate as they would in a tray.

Vegetable Growing explain why you should consider sowing cauliflowers indoors before you sow seeds straight into the ground: “To get a good crop of cauliflowers it’s essential to sow cauliflower seeds indoors in trays or pots. From my trials, I have found that cauliflower plants grown in pots far out perform those sown in a seedbed or straight outdoors.

“Sowing indoors also gives you the chance to get crops earlier in the season. Use a good quality compost in 8cm (3in) plastic pots and plant two seeds per pot, pricking out the weakest plant after germination.”

READ MORE: Fruit & vegetable growing guide for January

Artichokes

If you have sown artichokes undercover earlier in the year, then in May you should be sowing them into the ground. Artichokes prefer to grow in a warm sunny spot in soil that is fertile and is free draining, so when you are picking a spot in your garden for them, you will need to consider these things.

On her site, Sarah Raven talks about her recommendations for growing the vegetable: “It's worth planting a few different varieties so you get a good successional system going. They can be picked, cooked and eaten at golf ball size, Italian style, or allowed to grow bigger so that you can dip each scale into a delicious sauce or melted butter, leaving the sumptuous heart until last.”

READ MORE: Fruit & vegetable growing guide for November

All the vegetables you can plant in May

  • French and runner beans
  • Squashes
  • Cucumbers
  • Cauliflowers
  • Artichokes
  • Celery
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Beetroot
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Parsnip
  • Kale
  • Marrow
  • Courgettes
  • Witloof chicory
  • Kohl rabi
  • Purple sprouting broccoli
  • Spring onion
  • Sweet corn

Fruit to plant in May in the UK

If you are wondering what fruit to plant in May, then there are plenty that you can sow during the month. Read on to find out more about the fruit to plant in May.

Tomatoes

If you have been growing your tomatoes in a greenhouse or indoors, then you can move them outside after the last frost in May. When thinking about where to plant them outdoors you should choose an area of your garden that is not only sunny but well sheltered. Alternatively, you can plant them in 30cm pots or add two or three to a growing bag.

The Tomato Growing site shares a few more tips about growing tomatoes in your garden: “For example, If your last frost is expected around the end of May, you would sow (indoors) from the middle to the end of March. Your seedlings would then be ready to be planted outside around the end of May, beginning of June.

“You can sow up until the end of April in the UK and still expect a crop by the end of the season if you choose a quick or early maturing variety.”

READ MORE: Fruit & vegetable growing guide for December

Strawberry

Whilst you can buy strawberries year-round in the supermarkets, they don’t taste as good as home-grown fruit and by growing them in your garden you don’t have to keep buying them.

Strawberries grow well in window boxes, pots, hanging baskets, planters, in growing bags or in the ground. So, it doesn’t matter if you have a small or large garden, you can grow strawberries even if you have a small space.

If you are planting strawberries in the ground in May, then you will need to prepare your soil by digging in well-rotted garden compost or manure. You will then need to spread fertiliser over your soil and plant the strawberries 30-45cm apart, so their toots are buried. You then need to water them regularly for the first few weeks until they are more established.

READ MORE: Fruit & vegetable growing guide for October

Melons

There are three different types of sweet melons that you can grow, and these are cantaloupe melons, honeydew types and musk melons. You can grow melons in the UK in a greenhouse or a cold frame, or if you have a sunny spot in your garden that is well sheltered then you can grow them there if you have a cloche to protect the plants from wet and cold weather.

READ MORE: Fruit & vegetable growing guide for August

All the fruits you can plant in May

  • Melons
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes

Other gardening jobs to be done in May

There are lots of fruit and vegetables that you can plant in May in the UK, but there are other general tasks which you can do around the garden during the month as well.

You can keep digging up weeds like dandelions and dock, but you will need to ensure that you are removing their roots. This can mean bending down a lot and if you suffer from a mobility problem and you need to use aids such as a curved stairlift, you may need to ask a friend or relative for help with this task.

You need to also keep an eye out for any garden pests to ensure your growing crops don’t get ruined. Birds love fruit, so if you are growing any then you should cover them up with netting. Slugs can also be rampant during this time of the year, so it is worth regularly checking that your fruit and veg are not being targeted by them.

Crops that are ready to be harvested in May

  • Lettuce
  • Spring onions
  • Radish
  • Winter cauliflowers
  • Spring cabbage
  • Sprouting broccoli
  • Kale

READ MORE: Fruit & vegetable growing guide for July

This article looks at just some of the fruit and vegetables you can plant in May and the jobs you should consider doing during the month. For more tips and blogs like this, head to our news section.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.