For zones, 4 to 6 May is the time when the bulk of your warm weather crops are planted. This May planting guide will cover all the warm season crops that should be planted this month.
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Let me start out by giving you a quick link. This post is meant for those of you living mainly in Garden Zones 5 to 6. If you don’t know what your garden zone is, follow this link to find out!
Don’t forget that this post is specific to zones 5 & 6. If you aren’t in one of these zones you can check out our posts on zones 3 & 4, zones 7 & 8 or zones 9 & 10 to learn what you can start planting this month.
I think May is my favorite month in the garden. This month is when all the work gets done for my summer garden!! In this May planting guide, I will take you through what crops should be planted in your garden. This May planting guide is meant to help those of you in zones 4, 5, and 6 to get your summer harvest started! Your average last frost date is the key. Most of your May planting will be based on that date. So if you don’t know it figure it out before you start planting. The easiest way I have found to find that average last frost date is to Google “average frost dates for “your town”.
May Planting Guide – Cool Season Crops
If your May and June weather is still pretty mild you can get away with planting a few cool-season crops. Those of you in zone 4 will have the best luck with these.
Cabbage is one of those cool-season veggies that continues to do well in the warmer weather. Plant cabbage using seedlings any time in May, frost won’t affect this hardy plant.
Beets also do well in warm weather and can be planted any time in May. Again frost really doesn’t bother this plant.
Lettuce does really well in May. Choose faster-growing leaf varieties that will be mature in 45 days or so, before the real heat of summer sets in. Or you could try some of the summer crisp lettuces. These varieties are bred to withstand the heat of summer. Varieties like Nevada, Muir, and Concept, will do great in the summer and avoid many of the traditional problems lettuce have when it gets warm.
May Planting Guide – Warm Season Crops
The bulk of the crops this May planting Guide will cover will be warm-season crops. Once your final chance of frost is gone for the year (and in some cases a little before) it is time to start planting your warm-season crops. Below is a list of all the warm season crops you can get planted in May.
Both sweet corn and popcorn can be planted in May. Corn is a warm-season crop and will be affected by frost. I have found that you can usually get away with planting corn seeds about 10 days before your last threat of frost. The seeds will take between a week to 10 days to germinate so they will be protected in the soil from frost. If you would like to learn more about growing your own popcorn take a look at this post. Also if you would like to learn about my favorite method for growing corn in a small garden check out this post.
Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant
All 3 of these warm-season crops are VERY frost-sensitive. So you will want to wait until your average last frost date to get them planted. Even after that average last frost date, you need to keep a careful watch on the weather reports for a couple of weeks to be sure a late-season frost isn’t going to ruin your crop! One option to consider is planting your tomato family crops in a Walls O’ Water to keep them safe from the frost until June.
Plant watermelon, Crenshaw, cantaloupe, and other melons in May. These plants can all be planted either by seedlings or by seed. Melon plants are also VERY frost sensitive so be sure to get them out after the chance of frost is past. Consider buying some Heavy Fabric Row Cover cover to help protect your melons from a late frost.
All of the squash family are also considered warm-season crops and are super frost-sensitive. My preferred method of planting squash is by seeds, but they can also do okay if planted by seedlings. Just be sure the seedlings you choose are VERY small and haven’t started vining yet. The squash family includes summer squashes like zucchini, crookneck squash, and pattypan. This family also includes winter squashes like pumpkins, butternut, spaghetti, and banana squash. And of course don’t forget our favorite, cucumbers!
This May planting guide also includes potatoes. Potatoes usually take a long time to germinate and are more frost hardy than many other warm-season crops. So you can get potatoes planted early in the month. Get them in the ground as soon as you can and consider spacing your plantings a bit, maybe one planting early in the month and the other at the end of the month. This will spread out your harvest of potatoes in the summer and fall.
Beans (Green and shelling)
One of our favorite warm-season crops is green beans. Both the bush and pole varieties can be planted all of May. Keep in mind that again they are frost-sensitive. So if you choose to plant them early in the month be prepared to protect them with a frost blanket.
May is a great month to plant nearly all of your annual herbs. Basil, dill, oregano, parsley, and more will all do well when planted in May. Herbs are slightly more frost resistant but you still need to take care that the plants are not exposed to a heavy frost! May is also a great time to plant perennial herbs as well!
Once your soil has warmed to over 70 degrees you can plant Okra. It is very frost sensitive and also likes heat so you should put off planting this veggie until late in the month when things have really warmed up!
For those of you with a short growing season, you should consider getting some parsnips in the ground in late May. Parsnips are a cool-season crop but they also have a VERY long growing season of between 100 to 130 days. So if you want a crop in the fall and early winter then those of you with shorts seasons will want to get them planted in late May.
May is a little too late to plant bare-root strawberries. But if your local nursery has strawberry starts of everbearing varieties get some planted. If you choose everbearing plants you will even get a small harvest this fall!
If you have been growing sweet potato slips indoors, late May is the time to get them in the ground. Remember those sweet potatoes are frost-sensitive. They shouldn’t be planted in the soil until SOIL temperatures reach 70 degrees.
I hope this May planting guide has helped you to get started on your warm-season crops. Please just keep in mind that you need to know your average last frost date to determine when you should be planting most of these crops.
Did I miss anything? Let me know if there is something missing from my list!