Fill your kitchen with fresh veg this May

Spring is an exciting time in the flower beds but a barren time in the vegetable plots. However, this ‘blank canvas’ gives green fingered individuals carte blanche to plan and plant what they hope will be an excellent harvest as the summer progresses.

As it grows warmer, lighter and, Cheshire being what it is, probably wetter, May is the ideal time to plant and nurture garden vegetables that, once harvested, will surely always be on your kitchen menu as the summer winds to a close and autumn begins to fall.

So, ever wondered what the best vegetables to grow in May are and how you can guarantee a great harvest? Read our blog below… we’ve also hand-picked some great web pages for more in-depth guides on growing each vegetable, in case you’re not quite at Titchmarsh level yet!

Beetroot

beetroot grows well in spring

The rich mineral flavours of beetroot perfectly embody the essence of your garden. No other vegetable comes closer to the natural, earthy taste of health and vitality.

Considered to be one of the best vegetables for beginners to grow, beetroot can prosper in pots, allotments, or dotted along bed edges. They’re also resilient when faced with colder temperatures, something that’s vital given the occasionally cool morning temperature of late spring. Just

For an excellent step by step guide to planting beetroot seeds to best effect, follow the link here for the BBC’s guide.

Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli

May is arguably the last month of the year for sowing Brussel sprouts and broccoli if your goal is to have a fresh crop for all those comforting winter meals. And if you’ve been shopping recently, you’ll know that broccoli is very hard to come by.

 a bundle of broccoli

Both vegetables can be sown indoor in pots, inside a greenhouse or scattered amongst a wonderful edible garden and where you choose to sow the seeds depends on whether it’s unseasonably cool or relatively warm May.

Obviously, if May temperatures are soaring, you’ll have no problems growing Brussel sprouts in your garden. But if the sun is barely peeking through the clouds, growing either vegetable in a greenhouse or in pots indoors in a temporary seedbed provides the shelter and warmth they need. You can always replant the seeds outside once the plants outgrow the indoor environment.

Interested in more detail on how to grow Brussel sprouts and broccoli? Follow the link here for the RHS’ guide to growing Brussel sprouts and here for a similar guide on how to grow broccoli.

Leafy Greens

Anyone that knows anything about diet will surely eat bunches of leafy greens. Why? Leafy greens are brimming with fibre, vitamins and minerals. A healthy portion every day provides you with vital antioxidants and phytochemicals which can help prevent heart disease, diabetes… even cancer. They are also ideal to pop on the side of a barbecue plate.

Biennial leafy greens such as chard and flat leaf parsley can be sown in the spring and harvested in the autumn. May is also a great time of year to sow kale, spinach, Swiss chard, even Oriental leaves like mizuna, mibuna and chop suey greens. Sow the seeds indoors in small planting pots and you can watch the sprouts begin to peak through the soil as the month progresses!

For further info on how you can easily grow leafy greens, even if you don’t have a garden, follow the link here to read a recent article by The Independent.

a shot of bright kale

Peas

Few vegetables have the burst if flavour of fresh, tender peas. Though not technically a vegetable, peas belong to the same family as lentils, beans and peanuts, legumes.

A rich source of iron which is vital to produce red blood cells to transfer oxygen around the body, and B vitamins which help our bodies convert food into energy, any nutritious diet should include a healthy helping of peas.

Peas are a cool season crop, thriving in temperatures between 13-18C which makes them the idea legume to grow in the north west of England. Seeds should be planted in moist, fertile and well-drained soil. It’s best to avoid sowing peas in wet soil as they tend to rot away. They can also be grown in small pots in a greenhouse and, once shoots appear healthy, can them be transferred to the garden.

There’s more information on sowing and cultivating here with the RHS’ guide to growing peas.

Cucumbers

If your edible garden is looking a little barren, or you’re well into late spring and want to grow a vegetable that will thrive despite it being a mite late in the sowing season, cucumbers are a great choice.

One of the more versatile vegetables, cucumber seeds can be sown in a greenhouse as early as late March and as late as May in the garden. The shape and size of cucumbers depends on the environment you grow them in.

sliced cucumbers

Greenhouse cucumbers produce long, smooth fruits, much like the ones you find in the supermarket. Outdoor cucumbers (or ridge cucumbers) tend to be shorter and plumper with a rougher skin. They will need to be pollinated as they produce male and female flowers, but don’t worry, the abundance of insects attracted to your garden in May will pollinate the flowers for you.

If you don’t have a pre-cultivated cucumber plant, there’s a great guide to growing cucumbers from seed. Follow the link here to an excellent guide on the BBC website.

These are just a handful of the wonderful vegetables that you can grow in May. Whether you have a large edible garden, allotment or just want to grow indoor vegetables in your flat, you’ll find that early spring – and May in particular – is a great time of year to sow seeds and nurture vegetables.

Once you have a bountiful harvest you’ll be able to make delicious salads, tasty soups and vegetable side dishes for a wealth of delectable meals – all prepared on your wonderful granite kitchen countertops!