Undoubtedly, all your hard spring garden preparation has paid off, and you have a beautiful garden space ready to sow! May is the perfect time to start planting all your favorite fruits and vegetables so you can have an abundant summer full of fresh produce to enjoy. Wondering what to plant in May? We’ve put together a helpful guide to get you started, explaining Maine’s USDA zones and several delicious crops to choose from!
USDA Zone 5 Considerations
Planting your crops based on USDA Zone is a great place to start to help ensure a successful harvest. In Southern Maine, we are considered USDA Zone 5, which is divided into Zone 5A and Zone 5B. These two zones vary slightly on planting dates, often just by a couple of weeks. A good rule of thumb for Zone 5 is that seeds should be planted after the first frost-free date and before the last frost-free date, being May 30 – October 1.
For more details about when, where and how to plant seeds, the University of Vermont offers a helpful in-depth planting schedule to follow.
What to Plant in May in Maine
May is the ideal time to get tomatoes planted, after the last frost is over. All varieties of these juicy gems are delicious – if you’ve ever eaten a sun-warmed tomato, you understand! Not only do they taste amazing, but tomatoes are also a major source of health benefits. They contain lycopene, an antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, as well as vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and potassium. Make sure you grow them in full sun for extra juicy tomatoes!
Herbs are the unsung hero of summer meals, from fresh basil on Caprese salad to mint in your mojitos. Though herbs are slightly more frost-resistant than other produce, they should still be planted after the last frost of the season. Aromatic herbs like parsley, dill, basil, mint, oregano, rosemary lemon balm, and lavender all do great when planted in May.
Is there anything more exciting than a bounty of beautiful summer squash come July? For that to happen, planting in May is essential for zucchini, yellow zucchini, crookneck, Eight Ball and Pattypan squash. This vegetable is versatile and incredibly healthy – they are packed with fiber, potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamins A, B6, and C. Plus, they are very easy to grow!
Cucumbers are a summer garden staple, since they are relatively easy to grow and generally have very few issues. When planting your cucumbers, be sure to set up a trellis – this helps them grow, keeps them clean, and prevents them from taking over all your other plants. Soon, you’ll be abundant in cucumbers to use in nearly every summer dish, from salads to cocktails!
This may surprise you, but May is actually a great time to start growing your fall pumpkins! Since timing is everything, planning a season or two ahead is a great way to keep your garden flourishing. Wait until after the last frost to get these seeds in the ground, and you should see mature pumpkins by September or October!
The same rule for pumpkins also applies to cabbage. This winter-hardy vegetable does great when started around May for a later harvest. Once chillier weather rolls around, you’ll be very happy to have these nutrient-dense heads of cabbage for all your hearty soups and stews! One final tip for planting cabbage – it grows best when near herbs, like dill or rosemary!
Green beans are a favorite warm-season crop, and for good reason! They are super versatile, perfect for topping off a summer salad, smashed on toast or sautéed with butter as a side dish. Both pole beans and bush beans can be planted throughout May – just make sure it’s after the last frost has come and gone.
Late May is the ideal time to get parsnips planted. Another cool season crop, they have a growing season of about 100+ days, so should be ready for harvest come late fall. Parsnips are extremely high in fiber, packed with potassium, and full of anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. Adding these to your garden crop should be a no-brainer!
Crisp, refreshing lettuce from the garden is a true summer luxury! Lettuce grows very well when planted in May before the peak of summer heat starts, so it’s well-established by the time it does get hot.
Potatoes tend to take a while to germinate, so it’s a great idea to plant these hardy vegetables in May. Many gardening experts also recommend planting potatoes in several batches, perhaps one early in the month and the other at the end of the month, so your harvest will last throughout the end of summer and into fall. Full of antioxidants and a great source of fiber, potatoes are a garden staple!
Cumberland Crossing by OceanView
Cumberland Crossing by OceanView is an active retirement community located in picturesque Cumberland, Maine. We offer two spacious, customizable cottage floor plans alongside an inclusive monthly maintenance free, so you can leave the worries of homeownership behind. We also now have a brand new Community Garden with 12 raised garden beds, water supply and a garden shed. Simply spend your golden years doing what you love, like gardening!
To learn more about our community, please contact us at Cumberland Crossing today.