I know that gardening in zones 3 & 4 can be challenging because of the cooler temperatures and longer winters. But, there is finally a variety of plants you can start in your garden if you live in zones 3 or 4! If you are gardening in May in zones 3 or 4 you can use this planting guide to help you get started!
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Don’t forget that this post is specific to zones 3 & 4. If you aren’t in one of these zones you can check out our posts on zones 5 & 6, zones 7 & 8 or zones 9 & 10 to learn what you can start planting this month.
If you don’t know what your garden zone is you can follow this link to find out!
Gardening in May: Zones 3 & 4
This planting guide will help those of you in zones 3 & 4 get started with your summer garden. Remember that your average last frost date is key! Most of your May planting is going to be based around that date. If you don’t know it make sure you figure it out BEFORE you start planting. I’ve found that the easiest way to figure out the average last frost date for your area is to do a quick Google search. Here’s a basic overview of when you will plant crops based on the average last frost date in your area:
This will differ based on if you are planting warm or cool-season crops.
- You can start warm-season crops indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date.
- Cool-season crops can be started outdoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s get started! Here is your guide for gardening in May in zones 3 & 4.
Gardening in May: Zone 4
Crops to Plant Indoors
The following crops will need to be started indoors in May in zone 4. If you aren’t familiar with indoor seed starting you can check out my free online video course: Seed Starting Basics
Love them or hate them, you can start Brussels sprouts indoors this month!
Cabbage is a great option for May because it’s a fairly hardy plant, so it will be able to tolerate any cooler temperatures when it’s ready to be transplanted outdoors in about 6 weeks.
When it’s ready we use our homegrown cauliflower in our favorite mashed potato bowl recipe! Cauliflower is another hardy plant that you can start indoors, so that it’s ready to go outside in a few weeks!
You’ll want to start tomatoes indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Tomatoes are very sensitive to frost, so they can’t be planted outdoors until after the last frost date.
If you’re anxious to get your tomatoes started you can look into using Walls O’ Water. These are so handy and can allow you to plant your tomatoes outside a little bit sooner. You can learn more about using them here: Using Walls of Water for an Earlier Tomato Harvest
Peppers will also need to be started indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. If you live in zone 4 you should be able to start them indoors in May.
Crops to Plant Outdoors
You can get some cool-season crops started outdoors this month! These crops are pretty hardy and should be able to tolerate frost!
Kale tastes best when it is grown in cooler temperatures, in my opinion, so it’s best to get it started now before it warms up too much!
Look for hardy varieties of lettuce that will be able to tolerate any frost!
I love growing onions, so getting onions started outdoors is so exciting to me! You can find my tips for growing onions here: Onion Planting Guide
Peas are very hardy, especially when they are smaller. I normally warm my soil for 1-2 weeks before I plant peas and then get them started as soon as I can!
Other crops you can plant outdoors in May
- Winter Squash (wait to plant until the end of the month)
- Cucumbers (wait to plant until the end of May)
Gardening in May: Zone 3
You can get all of these crops started indoors in May if you live in zone 3!
- Brussels Sprouts
- Tomatoes (start indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date)
- Peppers (start indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date)
Gardening in May: Crops to Plant Outdoors
If you live in zone 3 here are some great crops that you can plant outdoors this month!
Kale is a very hardy crop, so it’s perfect for starting outdoors in zone 3 this month! It can withstand frost well and honestly I think it tastes better when it’s grown in the cold!
Another great crop for planting in May are beets. Beets are very hardy and frost does not bother them too much!
Root crops like carrots do well in colder weather and can be started outdoors as early as 8 weeks before your last frost date. I’ve found that warming the soil before planting can really help as well as using some fabric row cover for protection.
Lettuce is another great crop to get started this month! It thrives in cooler temperatures and grows quickly!
I usually start peas outside as early as 8 weeks before the last frost date in my area after I warm my soil for a few weeks. Peas are very frost hardy, so I like to get them started as early as I can. You can read my article about how to warm your soil here: Warming Garden Soil for Planting
We really love spinach, so I highly recommend that you get some spinach started outside this month!
Greens such as Bok Choy do really well in cooler temperatures which makes them perfect for gardening in May in zone 3!
Hopefully this article gave you a good idea of what you can plant in May if you live in zones 3 or 4. Did I miss anything? What will you be planting in your garden this month?