With spring in full flow and summer just around the corner, May can feel like a hectic month in the garden. Trying to stay on top of seedlings, weeds and watering, I always feel like there are lots of plates to keep spinning. It’s all good fun though!
And the planting has only just begun really. May is the first month of the year when the risk of frost dwindles away, and this makes it the ideal time to get lots of less hardy crops started. Here are my top picks for this month.
Courgettes are really easy to grow, and one plant will supply you with plenty of crop all season – in fact you’ll probably end up looking for creative recipes involving courgettes! If this happens, start to harvest them when they are tiny; baby courgettes are so tasty in pasta and stir fries. And make sure you get the kids to make magic courgettes – lightly scratch their name onto a small one and it will grow pretty quickly into a giant name. Leave it long enough and they’ll have a huge marrow with their name on. Brilliant fun!
You need a bit of space to grow squash because they do ramble around the ground, but one plant will produce a lot of squash, and they store well over autumn and winter. If this is a vegetable you eat regularly, growing it will save you loads of money. Butternut squash is the most well-known variety, but there are some weird and wonderful ones to choose from if you feel like experimenting.
May is a great month to plant more tender varieties of herb which won’t survive our winters, but are perfectly happy in our gardens in the summer. Basil is a must-have; unless you have a very sheltered, warm garden it needs to grow on a sunny windowsill indoors, but it’s very easy to grow and you can get the kids involved with smashing it up into homemade pesto. Oregano is another good choice – again, kids can get involved with the cooking and add it to homemade pasta and pizza sauces. I’ve always bought a small oregano plant and potted it on, but you can grow it from seed if you prefer. Coriander is a bit hardier and fine growing outdoors, it’s a key ingredient in oriental cooking and lovely in salads too. Make sure you plant this one little and often, as it will flower and go to seed quickly.
For lots of ideas on creating a herb garden check out my Pinterest board.
It’s not too late to plant potatoes, although you need to go for a ‘second early’ or ‘maincrop’ variety. These varieties tend to produce larger potatoes which are good for roasting, baking or mashing. You don’t need loads of room either; you can grow potatoes really successfully in containers, which is a great way to get started if you’ve never grown them before.
Runner beans picked when young and tender are a real treat – so much better than refrigerated shop-bought ones! They’re climbing plants, so they will need some support (garden canes made into a wigwam shape is perfect), but this means they don’t take up much space; you can even tuck them in amongst a garden border. The seeds are big so they’re perfect for kids to plant, you can start them off in pots or plant them straight into their growing site. Pinch out the end of the growing shoot when they reach the top of their supports, and harvest the pods when they are still young and tender.
Will you be planting any of these crops this month? Or have you gone for something completely different? Let me know what you’re up to!