13 Unique Fruit and Vegetable Varieties to Direct Seed in May

Looking for some vegetables you can direct seed in your garden this May? There are a number of different vegetables you can choose from, so where do you start? In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss shares her favorite vegetable varieties to direct seed in the month of May.

direct seed vegetables may

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Spring has sprung, and if you’re a gardener, that means that the time has come to roll up your sleeves, don your overalls and sun hats, and get down to business. We know how time can be, flying by, and then before you know it, the warmer months are here and you haven’t had time to start your seeds for that vegetable garden yet.

If you’re running a bit behind, don’t worry too much because there are plenty of veggies that prefer to be direct sown. Many of these vegetables have stems or roots that are fragile, which means that transplanting can disrupt their growth and leave you with sub-par results.

May and June are great months for direct seeding vegetable gardens, especially for those living north of hardiness zone 7, where the ground is still warming up through those early spring months. Before you break out your seed trays, let’s talk about some vegetables that can be directly sown in the month of May and into June.

Bush Beans

Close-up of Bush Beans growing in a raised bed in a sunny garden. The bush is large, low, lush, has large, wide, heart-shaped leaves of dark green color with smooth edges. The pods are long, narrow, with a pale green dense skin.
Bush Beans are an excellent warm-weather crop that grows quickly and enriches the soil.
  • Soil Temperature: 65°F
  • Seeding Rate: Sow 1”-2” deep, every 2”-4”, space rows 18”-36”
  • Start Indoors in These Zones: 3-5
  • Start Outdoors in These Zones: 6-10

A perfect starter vegetable crop, bush beans can be grown by beginners and experienced gardeners alike. Bush beans are a warm-weather crop.

They perform best when temperatures reach a range of 65°-85°F, which sets Southern states squarely in the month of May, while in more Northern states with cooler climates, June is an ideal month to drop some Bush Bean seeds into the ground.

Bush beans are a type of bean that germinates quickly and easily, and they grow fast, so there is no need to start them indoors. They are well suited to garden beds, raised beds, and containers alike, and they are nitrogen fixers, so they help to enrich the soil for other plants.

Contender

Close-up of freshly picked Contender bean pods on a wooden table. Bean pods are elongated, thin, slightly curved, pale green in color. The pods are smooth and have a slightly hard texture. Inside, the pods contain several seeds enclosed in a thin, edible shell.
Contender is a disease-resistant variety of Bush Bean with large, stringless pods that matures quickly in 50 days.

Named for its ability to compete with the best of the beans, Contender is a disease-resistant variety of bush beans with large, stringless pods.

Taking only 50 days to mature, if you get these in the ground by mid-May, they will be ripe for the 4th of July cookouts.

Blue Lake 274

Close-up of a growing Blue Lake 274 bean bush in the garden. The bush is low, has beautiful wide leaves, bright green in color, oval in shape with narrowed tips. Bean pods are long, thin, pale green in color and covered with a thin shell.
Blue Lake 274 is a flavorful and delicate variety of green beans that yields plump, smooth white pods.

These tasty green beans are great if you’re looking for something a bit more delicate and flavorful. This variety produces plump, delicious pods with smooth white beans in about 58 days. If you pick them promptly, these beans are stringless, and they are also disease resistant.

Gold Rush

Close-up of a growing Gold Rush bean bush in a sunny garden. The bush has large, wide leaves, dark green in color, oval in shape with narrowed tips. Bean pods are long, thin, creamy yellow in color.
Gold Rush beans are visually striking with their creamy golden hue, making them easy to spot and harvest.

These pretty beans stand out in a field of green. The creamy golden hue of Gold Rush beans makes them easy to harvest. I am always partial to the unconventionally colored varieties of veggies.

They really elevate a meal with their uniqueness. Gold Rush keeps very well on the vine and is a great variety for freezing.

Summer Squash

Close-up of a growing Summer Squash in a garden. The plant has thick green stems, slightly hairy, and ripening fruits with beautiful orange-yellow flowers at the tips. The fruits are large, elongated, cylindrical, with a glossy pale green skin with dark green stripes. The fruits are also covered with fine hairs.
This is an easy-to-grow vegetable with a tender, buttery flavor.
  • Soil Temperature: 70°F
  • Seeding Rate: 18”-24” apart, 4’-5’ between rows
  • Start Indoors in These Zones: 3-5
  • Start Outdoors in These Zones: 6-10

Summer squash is one summer vegetable that is easy to grow and can be prepared in many wonderful ways. I’ve never met a squash casserole I didn’t like.

Squash plants really produce an exceptional harvest and require very little care. They germinate quickly, and within weeks, you will have stunning golden squash blossoms popping up all over the garden.

Also occasionally referred to as zucchini (although zucchini is specific to the green varieties), summer squash is harvested while it is immature. This ensures that the rind is soft and tender, so they don’t need to be cooked to death to enjoy their delicate buttery flavor. Directly sow these seeds from late May through early June for late summer perfection.

Emerald Delight

Close-up of a growing Emerald Delight zucchini in the garden. The plant has a large elongated fruit, cylindrical in shape, with a glossy dark green skin with tiny pale green speckles.
Emerald Delight zucchini is a green and classic-looking variety that matures in under 60 days.

As the name suggests, this variety is green and has a classic zucchini appearance. They can be ready to harvest in just under 60 days, but if left on the vine longer, they will continue to grow until they are quite large.

Powdery mildew is a common problem when growing squash, but these wonderful veggies are resistant to it, along with several other common diseases.

Early Straightneck

Close-up of a growing Emerald Delight zucchini in the garden. The plant has large, long stems with large, wide, lobed, dark green leaves with slightly serrated edges. The fruits are large, elongated, pear-shaped, bright yellow.
Early Straightneck is a yellow Summer Squash that is rich in vitamins C and A.

I am partial to yellow summer squash myself. Something about that cheerful color lets me know that I’m definitely satisfying my vitamin C requirement for the day, and don’t forget about vitamin A! These veggies contain plenty of both.

These tender squash are ready to pick in just 45 days for smaller, softer squash, but you can also leave them on the bush for a giant harvest in late summer.

Lettuce

Close-up of growing lettuce in rows in the garden. The plant has a beautiful lush rosette of large, loose, densely packed leaves. The leaves are smooth, glossy green.
Lettuce is a versatile and nutrient-rich vegetable essential for any vegetable garden.
  • Soil Temperature: 60-65°F
  • Seeding Rate: 2-3 seeds per hole, 4” apart for leaf lettuce, 6”-8” for romaine and butterhead. 12”-18” between rows.
  • Start Indoors in These Zones: 2-6
  • Start Outdoors in These Zones: 7-11

No vegetable garden is complete without a variety of lettuce. Whether you love a nice crisp salad or prefer a buttery lettuce leaf on your burgers, lettuce is an amazingly versatile vegetable that packs a huge nutrient and hydration punch.

Lettuce tends to be susceptible to pests because of its sweet, tender leaves, but with a little extra care, it is a fast-growing crop with great potential.

I love to grow lettuce and other greens in a vertical, stacked planter like the Greenstalk 7 Tier vertical planter. Lettuce turns a vertical planter into a tower of tastiness and takes up much less garden space this way. Direct sowing is recommended for all lettuce varieties.

Little Gem Romaine

Close-up of a growing Little Gem Romaine lettuce in the garden. It is a compact lettuce variety that forms small dense heads with crispy, sweet and slightly nutty leaves. The leaves are rounded, elongated, bright green in color with a wrinkled texture.
This is a resilient and sweet romaine variety that matures in just 20 days.

Little Gem mini-romaine has the resilience of romaine and the sweetness of a butterhead, all wrapped in a crunchy little package.

This tasty lettuce can be harvested in 20 days and can be harvested repeatedly as all romaine lettuce can. Simply cut the leaves off, and the plant will grow back for a second round of crisp deliciousness.

Black Seeded Simpson Leaf

Close-up of a growing Black Seed Simpson Leaf lettuce in the garden. This variety of lettuce is known for its large and tender leaves. The leaves of Black Seed Simpson are bright green and have a smooth texture with ruffled, wavy edges.
Black Seeded Simpson Leaf lettuce is a flavorful and heat-tolerant variety with frilly leaves and a crinkled texture.

If you’re looking for a fast-growing variety that has lots of flavor and can handle the heat of summer, Black Seeded Simpson is perfect. This full-sized leaf lettuce variety has striking, frilly leaves and a fun crinkled texture.

Baby greens can be harvested in weeks, and full heads are ready to harvest in just over a month. This is a lettuce that you’ll come back to year after year for its reliability of flavor as well as a high germination rate.

Marvel of Four Seasons Butterhead

Close-up of a growing Marvel of 4 Seasons Butterhead lettuce in a garden bed. It forms loose heads of soft and oily leaves. The leaves have a wonderful combination of green and reddish hues, and a shriveled texture.
Marvel of Four Seasons Butterhead is a French variety of lettuce with cranberry-colored leaves.

You might want to leave this stunning French variety of Butterhead in the ground just for looks. The cranberry-colored leaves are just so beautiful it’s hard to see them go.

However, they are equally as delicious, with a creamy, mild flavor and the tender texture of its type. Keep this variety moist in the summer, and you will have a steady supply of fresh lettuce even in the hottest months.

Rouge d’Hiver Romaine

Close-up of a growing Lettuce Rouge d'Hiver Romaine in a garden bed. It has elongated lettuce heads with dark red outer leaves and a lighter green inner core. The leaves are elongated, oval, with slightly serrated edges towards the base.
Rouge d’Hiver Romaine is a French heirloom variety with great cold tolerance.

This is another French heirloom variety that makes a wonderful late summer crop. It has great cold tolerance so that it can be planted well into the cooler months with little fear of freezing.

The crunchy leaves will blush a deeper red in cool weather, making this another fabulous treat to eat and look at.

New Red Fire Leaf

Top view, close-up of a growing Lettuce New Red Fire Leaf lettuce. Lettuce has large rounded smooth leaves with curly and ruffled edges growing in rosettes. The leaves are bright green with bright pink margins.
This heat-tolerant lettuce variety has prolonged flavor, attractive ruffled leaves, and crimson edges.

New Red Fire Leaf is one of the most heat-tolerant varieties of leaf lettuce. It is slow to bolt, so it stays flavorful for a long time, and if you forget to harvest right away, you can still avoid your crop turning bitter.

The ruffled leaves are green in the heart with lovely crimson edges that make a great garnish and really dress up a plate.

Cilantro

Close-up of a growing Cilantro in the garden against a blurred background. Cilantro has erect, thin stems with broadly lobed green leaves.
Cilantro, a herb with a polarizing taste, adds an essential touch to dishes like salsa and street tacos.
  • Soil Temperature: 55-68°F
  • Seeding Rate: ¼” deep, 6” apart
  • Start Indoors in These Zones: 2-6
  • Start Outdoors in These Zones: 7-11

Love it or hate it, cilantro is a favored herb by many gardeners. Some people feel it tastes a bit soapy, but if you love it, then a good salsa or street taco is incomplete without a healthy dose of this leafy green.

I’m in the latter group, and I love it on chili, in salsa and guacamole, or mixed with red onions on top of tender carnitas.

Cilantro has a long tap root, so direct sowing is recommended and can be done through the end of spring. Germination takes about 5-10 days. I also love to let cilantro bolt in the garden because the flowers are beautiful and a pollinator favorite.

Long-Standing Santo

Close-up of a growing Long Standing Santo in a garden against a blurred background. Cilantro has small, broadly lobed leaves at the base of the plant and thin pinnate leaves above.
This is a flavorful and slow-bolting variety that can be harvested all at once or gradually.

Long-Standing Santo is a large-leafed variety with a ton of flavor. It is slow to bolt, so you can allow it to mature for a large harvest or take cuttings little by little, and this variety will maintain its flavor and tenderness. This makes a great container plant with attractive, bushy foliage.

Moroccan Cilantro

Top view, close-up of a growing Moroccan Cilantro. The plant has small, broad-lobed, bright green leaves.
This is a great variety for harvesting coriander seeds, as it bolts early.

Cilantro also goes by another name, Coriander, which implies the use of seeds as a spice. Moroccan Cilantro is great for harvesting the seeds as it bolts early, attracts pollinators to help it along, and produces large, flavorful seed pods early in the season. A culinary marvel!

Rainbow Carrots

Close-up of a woman's hands holding a bunch of freshly picked Rainbow Carrots, in a sunny garden. Carrots have elongated, conical roots in various colors of orange, purple, and pale yellow. From the tops of root crops grow long thin stems with thin strongly dissected green leaves.
Rainbow carrots are visually appealing, larger in size, sweet, and crunchy, making them perfect for roasting.
  • Soil Temperature: 45-85°F
  • Seeding Rate: 2-3 seeds per hole, ¼” deep, 6-12 seeds per foot.
  • Start Indoors in These Zones: best direct sown
  • Start Outdoors in These Zones: 3-10

I’m a sucker for a pretty plate of vegetables, and ever since I discovered rainbow carrots, I can’t resist roasting up a batch of these wonderful root veggies to go with a Sunday pot roast. Rainbow carrots are a blend of various shades of yellow, orange, and white, in a larger size than the average colored carrot. They are marvelously sweet and crunchy.

Give these veggies a bit of shade in the afternoon for a bountiful fall harvest, or wait until late summer to plant, and you’ll have colorful carrots in time for Thanksgiving.

Cantaloupe

Close-up of growing Cantaloupes in a vertical garden. Cantaloupe has large, broad, dark green leaves with slightly wavy edges. The fruits are large, rounded, with a strongly structured rough skin of pale green color with dark green dots.
Cantaloupes are easy to grow but require warm soil for germination and need to be kept moist after planting.
  • Soil Temperature: 70-95°F
  • Seeding Rate: Sow seeds 3” apart ½” deep and thin to strongest seedlings once they are 2” tall, 6’-8’ between rows
  • Start Indoors in These Zones: Best Direct Seeded
  • Start Outdoors in These Zones: 4-10

Melons are a summertime staple, and cantaloupes are exceptionally easy melons to grow.

These melons perform best when direct seeded, and they need the soil to be at least 70°F for germination to take place.

Cantaloupes need the soil to remain moist during germination, so give them plenty of water in the first week after planting. Cantaloupes have shallow root systems. A thin layer of mulch will help protect vulnerable roots and hold moisture.

Melon vines can be a bit fragile, so try not to jostle them around too much. Many weeds will compete with cantaloupes for nutrients, so try to keep the weeds to a minimum. Mulch will come in handy in this way as well.

Minnesota Midget

Close-up of a cut Minnesota Midget Cantaloupe fruit on a wooden table, against a blurred green garden background. The fruit has a thick, rough, orange-colored skin with structured, irregular, pale cream-colored streaks that create a loose pattern. The flesh is bright orange.
Minnesota Midget Cantaloupes are a small and sweet variety that grows well in hot weather.

This delicious variety produces very sweet and tender melons only 4” in diameter. They are hot weather lovers and take about two months from germination to harvest.

Minnesota Midget Cantaloupes are edible to the rind, with very little waste left over. I always struggle to finish a whole melon in one sitting, but these sweet little melons are the perfect size!

Final Thoughts

If you haven’t gotten a head start on your seed germinating indoors this year, there is no need to worry about a less-than-fantastic summer vegetable harvest. With so many tasty veggies and fruits that prefer to be directly sown, you can still get started on time and have a bountiful harvest throughout the summer months and into the fall. Try some of these delicious and beautiful varieties for a successful and flavorful vegetable garden.

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