In the Vegetable Garden - Things to do this Month - May


May is another busy month; especially in colder areas of the country with a shorter growing season, meaning a narrower ‘window of opportunity’ for sowing and planting. The danger of frost should be well past by now in the south of the country (but be prepared with some horticultural fleece, just in case), the soil will at last be warming-up and plant growth should get underway.

Refer to the Vegetable Planting Diary – Month by Month.

  • Save water: invest in some water butts and save this valuable resource. It’s also worth learning which plants can stand a bit of drought, and which must have their regular drink!    
  • Weed control and Watering: hoe in the morning so the sun desiccates the uprooted weeds (and hoeing also exposes slugs’ eggs for the birds to eat!), and water in the evening when the heat of the day is gone
  • Harvest 2 year old+ Asparagus – cut no more than 5/6 spears from each plant; older crowns will be producing new shoots for daily cutting
  • Thin out root crops as they grow to allow room for development: carrots, parsnips, turnips, radishes and beetroot
  • Transplant leeks to their final cropping position: pop into a ready-made hole and water-in well
  • Beware carrot root fly: thin late in the evening, and cover with fleece – or consider ‘companion planting’: plant alongside the traditional companion herbs: Rosemary, Sage and Chives (all members of the allium family are said to repel the fly). Alternatively, you can cover with horticultural fleece, but I think the herbs both look and smell nicer and are more useful!
  • Erect canes and sow runner beans and climbing French beans directly into the soil
  • Sow early peas, then the taller main crop peas towards the end of the month, and provide support for these depending on whether they are tall or short varieties (stakes and netting, or hazel twigs)
  • Continue to sow brassicas (cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, kale) for successional cropping – sow in trays, thin into pots, then plant out strong plants
  • Sow the following in pots for planting out in June: courgettes, marrows, squash, pumpkins and sweet corn
  • Continue sowing salad crops for a continuous supply
  • In the greenhouse, pot on tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, aubergines into large pots or grow bags
  • BE VIGILANT FOR SLUGS – see our tips for beating slugs here
  • Make this the year you become self-sufficient in herbs (and never have to buy a packet of dried herbs again!). Make a list of all the herbs you use in the kitchen and get sowing – once established, you can allow some to go to seed for sowing in the following year.