May Garden Checklist

It’s May and even for the northernmost planting zones, spring is here! May is a busy month in the garden. If you’ve kept up with your late winter/early spring gardening chores, then it should be an enjoyable one for you! 

While it’s tempting to plant everything at the first sign of a warm day, May has a tendency to bring unexpected weather that can damage your garden. Late cold snaps, heavy rains and strong winds are all still possible, so be prepared to protect your garden from inclement weather. 

If you have specific questions about the best times to plant in your area, always seek the advice of a trusted garden center or your local county extension office. 

Clippers pruning bush.

May Garden Planning

If you kept up with your late winter/early spring chores and planning, May should be a little easier. Still, it’s worth noting in your garden journal any successes you’ve experienced with your plantings. Is there something that you might have planted sooner (or later) than you did? What pests are you observing in the garden so far? How much rain are you getting?

Spring Garden Prep & Maintainance

It’s important to keep up with weeding and to reapply mulch if you see any bare spots on the soil surface. Be sure your irrigation system continues to operate efficiently as the growing season heats up. If you live in an area with watering restrictions or guidelines, make sure your watering schedule honors that. Fertilize fruit trees with compost, and thin fruit to every 6” while the fruit is still small. 

USDA Hardiness Zone 4 should harden off annuals before transplanting them outside and can remove winter protection from cool-season crops.

Tip for those in USDA Hardiness Zone 4:

Harden off annuals before transplanting them outside and remove any winter protection from cool-season crops.

What to Sow & Plant Indoors in May

While most zones are finished with indoor sowing by now, there are still seeds to start under grow lights for some.

Close-up of a female hands cutting a plant with pruning shears in her vegetable garden.

What to Sow & Plant Outdoors in May

  • Zone 3 & 4 can plant transplants of tomatoes, peas, kale, melons, potatoes, and pumpkin.
  • Zones 5 & 6 can direct sow seeds of squash, lettuce, melons, cucumber and corn.
  • Zone 7 can transplant onions, peppers and tomatoes.
  • Zone 8 can transplant beans, Brussels sprouts, corn, cucumber and squash.
  • Zones 9 & 10 can transplant Brussels sprouts and squash if they haven’t already.

What to Harvest in May

  • Zone 6 & 7 can harvest peas, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and lettuce.
  • Zone 8 can harvest beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, peas and spinach.
  • Zones 9 & 10 can harvest beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumber, onions, peppers and tomatoes.

For more on May gardening where you live, click on your plant hardiness zone below.

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  1. I live in Punta Gorda, Fl, Southwest Fl coast.
    In what planting zone do I live?
    Please advise.
    Thank you for this wonderful information!!!

    • Hi Kasey, yes there is! It is inside of our Monthly Organic Gardening Guide. We just resent you the email that contains a link to download the guide. If you have any questions, we’re happy to help!

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