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Monthly growing advice

What to sow and plant in May

The information on sowing and planting given here is for everyone from the south of England to the north of Scotland. Growing conditions can vary dramatically across the country, and even within a locality. If you are new to growing and are unsure about exactly what to do when, try asking other vegetable growers nearby. And be guided by the weather and soil conditions.
Lettuce plant
Sow lettuce directly outside in May and keep sowing at regular intervals throughout the season for a continuous crop.

Sow outdoors

  • Amaranth (Callalou) M
  • Beetroot M
  • Calabrese M
  • Carrots - sowings made in June should miss the main flight of the carrot rootfly.
  • Chickpeas
  • Courgettes, marrows and pumpkins M - where cucumber mosaic virus is a regular problem grow courgette and marrow varieties that are resistant.
  • Fenugreek (methi)
  • French beans, dwarf or climbing M
  • French beans, dwarf or climbing, for drying M
  • Florence fennel M
  • Haloon
  • Kohl rabi M
  • Lettuce M
  • Peas - where pea moth is a problem, delay sowings until mid May so they will be flowering after the pea moth lays its eggs.
  • Runner beans M
  • Salad onions
  • Salsify
  • Scorzonera
  • Spinach
  • Sweetcorn
  • Swede

Sow in a seedbed to transplant

  • Leeks M - (last sowings in early May)
  • Cabbage M
  • Cauliflower M
  • Sprouting broccoli M (until mid May)
  • Kale (borecole) M


M - these plants resent root disturbance and are best raised in module trays only.

Temperature tip

Sweetcorn, courgettes, marrows, pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes, French beans and Runner beans are temperature sensitive crops. If they are sown in soil that is too cold, germination will be poor, and any seedlings that do appear will not crop as well as those started in warmer soils. The critical period is when the seeds are taking up water to start the germination process. Once this is complete, lower temperatures are acceptable.

Minimum temperatures required

  • Beans, French and Runner - 10°C
  • Courgettes - 13°C
  • Cucumbers - 13°C
  • Lablab bean - 18-21°C
  • Melon - 13°C
  • Sharks fin melon - 13°C
  • Sweet potato slips - 12°C
  • Pumpkins and squash - 13°C
  • Sweet and chilli pepper - 15°C
  • Sweet corn - 10°C
  • Tomatoes - 10°C

Return to Your organic garden in May

For more information on growing each type of vegetable refer to our comprehensive list of Growing Cards and our Sowing New Seeds project resources page.

See also Seed Sowing information.