May is probably THE month where everything seems to start getting going properly. Seedlings that were sown in the previous months really come into their own now and put on tremendous growth as the days get longer and the temperatures keep increasing.
May is still a month to be wary of though…. sudden unexpected frosts can quickly undo all of the previous months hard work if you are not careful.
Every year we think we have had the last frost up here in Cheshire, and every year there is a frost in the middle of the month that catches people out. My advice to you is to step it up but proceed with caution! You may be free and clear to sow outside if you live in the south but for anyone up north, I still sow undercover for the majority of the month for better germination rates in a more controlled environment.
This month is a month of fun sowings for me! Squashes, cucumbers, courgettes, french beans, runner beans and sweetcorn! They are all super easy seeds to sow and will put on growth in no time so that when the last of the frosts have passed, they will be ready to go in the ground and bask in the glorious summer sunshine!
Cucumbers – If you have never grown a cucumber yourself then you HAVE to grow some this year! The flavours of a homegrown cucumber are nothing like what you buy in the supermarkets…. a homegrown cucumber has a flavour profile on another level! Sow the seeds on their side to avoid them rotting if the compost is too wet. I am looking forward to growing our Cucumber ‘Lemon’ this year as something a little different!
French Beans – We will be sowing our dwarf and climbing French beans this month. I usually sow these in deep module trays where they get off to a good start before planting out. I will probably wait until June to plant out beans. I will be sowing our Purple Teepee and Cobra varieties.
Runner Beans – As with the French beans I will be sowing these under cover this month to plant out in June…. bean seeds can rot easily so I much prefer sowing under cover when I can control the watering and the temperatures are warmer in the greenhouse than the soil outdoors. I am excited to grow our White Emergo runner beans this year – they have pretty white flowers and the beans can be dried and used like butter beans in the winter.
Sweetcorn – I absolutely love growing sweetcorn. I sow mine in modules and then plant out when the seedlings are putting on growth. I always try and grow some climbing beans with the sweetcorn as the sweetcorn provides a sturdy structure for the beans to climb up and hold on to.
Squashes – I will be sowing all of my winter squashes in the greenhouse in early May to get them off to a flying start. You can still wait a bit longer if you would rather direct sow but I prefer to get a good early start in case of a bad summer.
Brussels Sprouts – I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t yet got round to sowing my brussels sprouts so I’ll be doing this in early May as we are in the last couple of weeks to be able to sow these now for Christmas sprouts.
Chilli Peppers – I do still have a couple of varieties that I haven’t sown yet as I purposely wanted to wait to experiment with a later sowing. There is nothing wrong with sowing chilli seeds now but I do think that you need to get moving on these if you haven’t already done so.
Swede – It seems a little early to be thinking about the colder weather when we are not even in summer yet but I will start a few swede seeds off this month as they do take a little while to grow. These will then be available for some delicious soups on those cosy autumn nights.
Peas – Whether you are growing for garden peas or pea shoots I love to keep these going throughout the season. We have just got a beautiful variety in called Ezetas Krombek Blauwshokker which is a purple podded variety. It looks stunning and the peas can be grown all season to be used either as a mange tout, a garden pea or the peas can even be dried for storing to be used in the winter. A fantastic all-rounder!
Succession Sowings – I will be making extra successional sowings of most other vegetable and salad seeds now to keep the harvests going all through the summer season and into the autumn. These sowings will include salads, spring onions, kales, kohl rabi, chard and radishes etc. With all of your successional sowings, just sow little and often – a few salads, a few spring onions etc. There is no need to over sow if you commit to sowing things every few weeks throughout the season.