Gardening Tasks: May


Early May: transplant cool-weather-tolerant seedlings, such as:

  • lettuce

  • kale

  • broccoli

  • spinach

  • bok choy

  • peas

  • onions

  • carrots

  • radishes

This early planting does not need to be your whole crop of a certain vegetable for the year. In fact, it’s usually better to plant a small part of your garden with an early batch, and then plant a larger portion later for the main crop. For many vegetables, planting them more than once is the best way to lengthen your harvest season anyways.

For example, you can plant a few broccoli plants in early May, a few more at the end of May, and continue planting a few more broccoli plants every couple weeks until about the end of July.

The same method works for lettuce, spinach, bok choy, and most other greens (except for kale and Swiss chard, which produce new leaves for fresh harvests over a longer period of time).

Late May: plant heat-loving seedlings into your garden, such as:

  • tomatoes, peppers, eggplant

  • cucumbers, zucchini, squash, melons

Late May: seeds to plant in your garden

  • beans

  • carrots, beets, parsnips

  • cucumbers, zucchini, squash, melons (planting seeds + seedlings will extend your harvest; or, plant another group of seedlings in early June)

  • sweet corn

  • main crop of potatoes (a potato piece, not a seed)

Seeds to plant indoors:

  • lettuce, bok choy

  • broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower


  • Planting for Fall

The garden fills up quickly in May, once the weather and soil warm up. However, keep in mind that you may want some space to plant some seedlings mid-summer for fall harvests.

You do not necessarily have to leave empty space now, but think ahead to where space will become available when you harvest what you planted early.

In general, crops like lettuce, early carrots, radishes, early onions, peas, broccoli, spinach, will be harvested by early- to mid-summer, and new crops can be planted in their place.

  • Trellising

When you figure out where you want to plant crops that require trellising, you can then think about what kind of trellising will work best for that crop.

Sometimes it works the other way: consider where trellising is most appropriate, and plan to plant your crop in that location.

Most vegetables will grow a lot taller than we expect, so it’s good to plan for trellising that is at least 5 - 6 feet tall. Opt for sturdy materials: you’ll be glad for them when the plants are in full production.

One of the best options: metal T-posts. These can be pounded into the ground with minimal effort, and can support a lot of weight. They also store very easily, and take up little room. If you don’t have any T-posts, scout around for some. They’re not very expensive to buy new (especially considering their long life span), but you may also find used posts around.

(More info is coming soon on trellising.)

  • Irrigation

It’s hard to think about irrigation when it’s raining every other day and the ground is super-saturated. But - the time will come in a few weeks when the ground is dry, and all your little seedlings are thirsty.

There are 4 main types of irrigation to consider for home gardens:

a) a watering can (if your garden is small)

b) a hose with a nozzle on the end that delivers a gentle spray of water (suitable for small gardens)

c) drip irrigation

d) sprinkler irrigation

A small investment in some type of watering equipment will be worthwhile over the course of the season - especially if you can save a lot of time watering.

(More info is coming soon on irrigation.)


Add a fresh layer of mulch to perennial vegetables

Remove old raspberry canes

Prepare landscape fabric, if you’ll be using some at planting time

Check your inventory of tools, and make sure they’re ready to use. Some to consider, that you may need, depending on your gardening system: a hoe or two, digging fork, shovel, rake, trowel.