May is one of the most magical months for gardeners. The weather has warmed up a little, giving us a glimpse of the promise of summer. At the plot, plant growth is speeding up, excited by the rising temperatures and increased daylight. More daylight also means more time in the garden, which is great for a stroll down to the plot in the evenings. My last frost date is around mid-May (for me in Yorkshire anyway) and we can start to think about cautiously planting out some of our most tender crops, whilst being ready to protect them if the temperates dip towards freezing again. Most excitingly, the hungry gap almost at its end and are almost ready to enjoy some of our first harvests!

THE HUNGRY GAP IN MAY

WHAT CAN WE HARVEST FROM THE ALLOTMENT IN MAY?

Perennials – Rhubarb, Wild Garlic

Crops sown last year – Leeks, Cabbages, Kale, Spring Onions, Sprouting Broccoli

First harvests from the new year – Radish, Salad Leaves, Rocket, Mizuna

Seeds to sow in May

HERE ARE SOME IDEAS FOR SEEDS YOU CAN START SOWING IN MAY

Sow Outdoors

SOW OUTSIDE STRAIGHT INTO THE SOIL

If the ground is warm enough, may is a good month of sowing seeds outdoors. Yet if the ground is too cold or too wet the seeds will just rot away, so it all really depends on the weather!

Seeds you can sow outside in May.

The leafy greens. Kale, swiss chard, spinach, chicory. The salad crops. Lettuce, spring onions, oriental leaves, land cress, radish. The brassicas. Kale, cauliflowers, Brussel sprouts, cabbages, sprouting broccoli, calabrese, kohlrabi, rocket, mizuna. The Legumes
Mangetout, peas The Roots. Turnips, swede, carrots, beetroot Herbs. Florence fennel

Seeds I will be sowing outdoors in May

Carrots. Sowing directly to the soil has many advantages, including saving time and space. The main reason I prefer to sow the majority of my seeds in modules at home is that my allotment plot is absolutely covered in marestail, and sowing in modules gives me a few extra weeks of therapeutically hoeing the weeds down, which is much easier for me than handweeding around teeny tiny seedlings!

In the Greenhouse

IN THE GREENHOUSE OR COLDFRAME

If you want a headstart with the more tender crops, some can be planted at the start of May in the greenhouse. Be careful not to plant them outdoors until the risk of frost has past in your area, and remember they need to be hardened off first.

The tender crops

Sweetcorn, climbing and dwarf french beans, running beans, cucumbers, patty pans, pumpkins, squash, courgettes, gherkins

The herbs

Coriander, Basil

Plant Out

THINGS THAT CAN BE PLANTED OUT AT THE PLOT

Be careful when planting out tender young seedlings. If you have planted out a tender crop and there is a risk of frost, you can cover them with fleece or cloches, though it’s better to wait and keep them in the cold frame or greenhouse if possible

Make sure all seedlings are hardened off before you plant outdoors.

Brassicas can be planted out now. These include cabbages, Brussel sprouts, kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi, sprouting broccoli and calabrese. Leeks and peas can be planted out too. Lettuces and salad can be planted out but will benefit from fleecing if the temperatures drop or it gets windy.

Once the risk of frost has passed you can plant out all the tender crops, such as aubergines, peppers, chillis, outdoor cucumbers, outdoor tomatos, french beans, courgettes, pumpkins, squash, patty pans, celery, celeriac, tomatoes, fennel, and sweetcorn.

Indoors

THESE SEEDLINGS NEED A LITTLE EXTRA WARMTH & PROTECTION

May is usually the month that our last frost date has passed here in Yorkshire, and our chillis and aubergines that we sowed at the beginning of February can move from the house into the greenhouse, restoring normality to our windowsills again. If you have yet to sow chillies and aubergines, it’s still worth a shot.

The tomatoes can join them too in the greenhouse too if they haven’t already, just keep a close eye on the forecasts and be ready to protect them if a late frost is forecast. I either bring them back indoors, cover them with fleece or add a tealight or candle to my greenhouse to add some extra heat – with a terracotta pot over the top to retain the heat, and I place the candle on top of a concrete slab, to reduce the risk of fire.

Jobs to do in May

A FEW THINGS YOU CAN BE GETTING ON WITH IN MAY

Earth up potatoes

Earthing up your potatoes will increase the length of the underground stems that will bear potatoes, increasing your harvest. Earthing up can be done 2-3 times at 2-3 week intervals.

Keep sowing, pricking seedlings out and potting on

Lift your remaining Jerusalem artichokes. Replant next years crop 10-15cm deep, and 30-40cm apart.

Hardening off

Start hardening off your seedlings that are ready to plant out.

Support broad beans

Giving broadbeans some support will stop them falling over

Remove new raspberry suckers

Raspberry canes spread like crazy, so move them if they have popped up anywhere unwanted. It's also worth ensuring your canes arent too thick or dense as it stops sunlight and air from getting to the inside canes and can promote disease.

Build supports

Build supports for climbing peas, climbing french beans and runner beans, so you are ready to plant them straight out.