For zones, 5-6 May is the time when the bulk of your warm-weather vegetables can be planted in your vegetable garden. This May planting guide will cover all the warm-season crops that should be planted this month.
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What is my Garden Zone?
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 the crops to plant in May for this post are specific to the hardiness zone 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.
May Planting Tips
I think May is my favorite month in the garden. This month is when all the work gets done for my summer vegetable 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 hardiness zones 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”.
A quick garden tip before we talk about what to plant this month; Make sure your soil is prepped for planting and that your watering system is ready to go. The plants you are putting in that prepped soil will need that moisture as you get warmer days this month. You can find how to prep your soil here and the best garden watering method here. Another great garden tip is to make sure you use some kind of mulch around your plants to keep them moist. These three tips will head you in the right direction for a successful vegetable garden this year.
May Planting Guide – Cool Season Crops
If your May and June weather in zone 5 & 6 is still pretty mild you can get away with still planting a few cool-season crops. I have listed below some cool season vegetables you can plant this month.
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 in this May planting Guide will cover warm-season crops in zones 5 & 6. 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 sweetcorn 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 sweet corn in a small garden check out this post.
Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant
All 3 of these warm-season crops are VERY tender and 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 transplanting seedlings or by planting 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 to sow 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 two types summer squash and also winter squash.
Cucumbers can also be planted in May. They can be planted by seed directly in your garden. This is one of our favorite crops to plant they taste so good and fresh straight from the garden.
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. However, if there is a threat of frost it would be a good idea to cover them with a fabric row cover.
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 heavy frost! May is also a great time to plant herbs that are perennials such as rosemary, sage, or thyme.
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 short seasons will want to get them planted in late May.
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.
You may be asking why I added flowers to my May planting list. Flowers not only make your garden more beautiful but those blooms also attract beneficial bees and butterflies to your garden.
Vegetable gardens always need more pollinators. There are even some flowers like marigolds that can deter pests! I have been trying to add flowers to my vegetable garden for the past couple of years.
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!