What Vegetables to Grow in May in the UK

With summer around the corner, the question is, what are the best vegetables to plant in May in the UK?

13 November 2023

Thought to be named after the Roman goddess of growing plants, May is a time when gardens are alive with activity. Whether it’s weeding, mowing, or pruning, the maintenance alone means there’s plenty to do. And, of course, it’s a great time for sowing and planting.

In fact, there are seemingly endless possible vegetables to grow in May in the UK. The only problem? Choosing which ones to grow. With that in mind, we’re rounded up just some of the best choices of veggies to plant in May. Now, isn’t that a “turnip” for the books?


Fresh kale, ready to be cooked. (Credit: lacaosa via Getty Images)

When it comes to a springtime powerhouse green, kale is a top crop. This robust, nutritious vegetable can be sown directly where it’s set to grow or started in a seedbed and moved later. Its hardiness designates it as a prime veg to plant in May and onwards. Typical varieties can reach heights of up to three feet, boasting smooth, ruffled, or frilly green or purple-red foliage, occasionally highlighted with purple veins or stems.


Turnips being pulled from the ground. (Credit: PeopleImages via Getty Images)

As one of the easiest vegetables to grow in May, turnips are not only a garden essential but a kitchen superstar. Their adaptability to various dishes, from salads to stews, and their love for the sun make them a staple for every British garden.

Pak Choi

Pak Choi (also known as bok choy) plants growing in vegetable garden (Credit: CreativeFire via Getty Images)

Pak choi thrives in mild, damp conditions, making it a stellar choice for veg to grow in the UK in May. This swiftly growing and tasty Chinese cabbage can be enjoyed in fresh salads or allowed to mature for steaming, sautéing, or stir-frying. And even while it’s growing, its vibrant green or purple leaves form miniature crowns, adding a charming touch to any garden. Whether sown indoors or outdoors, in soil or spacious containers, pak choi can be ready for harvest in roughly five weeks, perfect for multiple rounds of harvesting young leaves.


Checking the quality of sweetcorn while harvesting. (Credit: Peter Dazeley via Getty Images)

When it comes to sweetcorn, the fresher the sweeter. And what could be fresher than eating the cobs straight from the garden? Now, traditionally, sweetcorn is a summer crop, but newer varieties actually prefer milder climes, great as veg to plant in May. They can be planted outdoors, especially towards the end of the month, but indoors they get a head start for a longer growing season and protection from any sneaky late frosts.

Sweet potatoes

A farmer holding some freshly harvested organic sweet potatoes. (Credit: Tom Werner via Getty Images)

Delicious boiled or baked, these tropical tubers are more closely related to the flower morning glory than to traditional spuds. Grown from cuttings, they love nothing more than warm, sunny places and plenty of water. So, as vegetables to grow in May, get them started in a greenhouse or under cloches or fleece. Ready within four or five months, it’s easy to tell when sweet potatoes are good to go thanks to their leaves turning yellow and dying off. And, while they’re best fresh, they’re also freezable after blanching.


A chitted potato seedling of early rose heirloom variety. (Credit: Ewa Saks via Getty Images)

As delicious boiled as they are fried, potatoes regularly top the list of the UK’s favourite veg. And they’re excellent veggies to plant in May, especially in the south of Britain. For this time of year, opt for new potatoes and, by June or July, you can expect to be digging for spud-tastic treasure.


Picking up beetroot from pot. (Credit: Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images)

Searching for vegetables to plant in May? Give beetroot a go. Recognized for its adaptability, it does well in fertile ground and even in containers. Beyond the well-known reddish-purple, beetroot surprises with colours like white, pink, and bright yellow. Plus, in just about two months, they’re ready for harvesting.


Carrots in the garden (Credit: More86 via Getty Images)

When plotting out vegetables to grow in Britain in May, don’t overlook the humble carrot. It stands out not only for its delightful crunch and sweetness but also for its colour diversity, ranging from conventional orange to dramatic purples. Ensure a sunny location and well-draining soil for best results.

Planting Out

Ripe red peppers being harvested. (Credit: tomazl via Getty Images)

So far, we’ve focussed on sowing and vegetables to plant in May. But some veg sown indoors or in a greenhouse earlier in the year are ready to make the move from inside to out. Tomatoes, peppers, okra, leeks and aubergines are just some of the vegetables ready to find their own space in the garden.

Protecting Plants

Curly kale plants inside netting in a garden on a raised bed. (Credit: Petra Richli via Getty Images)

Whether it’s slugs sampling salad leaves or Jack Frost making a late appearance, it’s important to protect seeds, seedlings and veg from a variety of problems. Reading seed packets carefully is a good first step, and it’s always advisable to monitor for pests and diseases. As for preventative action, much of this can be done before sowing, including choosing hardier cultivars, choosing the right spot for each veggie, and soil testing. Then, moving forward, options include maintaining good garden hygiene, covering crops with cloches or fleece and mulching.

Veg to grow in May

A sweet potato for planting. (Credit: Kanawa_Studio via Getty Images)

You herb it here first. May is a month brimming with possibilities for UK gardeners. From the robust kale to the tropical sweet potato, the options for veggies to plant in May are diverse and exciting. It does take a bit of care and planning, but the results are well worth it.


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