Well here we are heading towards midsummer, with the longest day of the year on the horizon. The extra light and warmth encourages the garden to put on an exuberant burst of growth. But this extra light and warmth also means weeds will sprout up from seemingly nowhere. Keep on top of them by hoeing regularly in dry conditions.
We should be home and dry now weather-wise (famous last words I suspect), but be prepared in case of a late frost – keep vulnerable plants and new shoots protected at night if frost is forecast and don’t be tempted to put out your really tender plants until the middle of the month unless the weather changes dramatically.
Take it as read that you’ll have to continue to wage war on your slug and snail population. Caterpillar and aphid infestations can be dealt with by hand if caught early enough, but should the situation get out of control, you will have to resort to insecticides or grin and bear it! Don’t forget aphids and other sap-sucking insects can transmit viruses so being sympathetic, doesn’t really pay.
Another constant task around the garden at this time of year is deadheading – remove spent flowers from containers, pots, hanging baskets, beds and borders and feed them all occasionally with liquid feed. Deadheading helps divert the plant’s energy from producing seeds into producing new flowers…..so it’s a good thing all round.
Plant out summer bedding and seed-raised plants, if you have not already done so. Make sure they are well watered in and keep moist during dry weather. It is not too late to direct sow a few fast growing, late-flowering hardy annuals such as Calendula (pic top left), Godetia and Clarkia (pic bottom left). If you want to grow your own spring bedding for next year, many (including wallflowers, pansies, and Bellis perennis) need to be sown between May and July in order to flower next spring.
Cut back dead bulb foliage if not done already. It is important to wait until the foliage dies down naturally, as cutting back too early can lead to flower blindness next year.
There are lots of tasks to keep on top of in the vegetable garden during this month, but also it’s now that you start to reap the rewards of all that hard work during the previous months. You simply cannot buy vegetables with the same flavour in the shops.
With the soil warm, and daylight hours at their peak, there are a whole host of vegetables that can be sown now, so I haven’t listed everything that could be sown, just the most popular ones. Have a rummage in the seed displays at your local Garden Centre, identify which ones can be sown now and give them a go! Remember when sowing salad crops to sow short runs every few weeks. Don’t be tempted to sow a whole packet of lettuce seeds in one fell swoop – as the glut when they’re ready will be truly staggering!
I haven’t mentioned the need to water during dry spells – using harvested rain-water whenever you can. Purely because I didn’t want to jinx our summer!
Jobs to do in the garden for June
French and runner beans
Courgette and marrows
Make sure your fruiting plants have sufficient water when the fruit is swelling. This is critical for a good crop. Thin out plums and apples in June. Better to have one reasonable apple than three miniature marbles. Nature naturally tends towards this and sheds excess fruit. This is known as the ‘June Drop’. It’s best to thin out after this. Protect your soft fruits from bird damage with netting – or of course you can let them enjoy them and have none yourself!
Hoe borders to prevent annual and perennial weeds from spreading and seeding themselves.
Mow the lawn at least once a week to keep it at a manageable height.
Tackle bindweed when it appears in a border.
Lift clumps of forget-me-not once the display wanes, and before too many seeds are released. They can become invasive if left unchecked.
Stake tall perennials to prevent wind damage to flower spikes.
Sweet peas need training and tying in to their supports to encourage them to climb and make a good display.
Liquid feed containerised plants every two to four weeks.
Keep tubs, hanging baskets and alpine troughs well watered. Use collected rainwater, or recycled grey water wherever possible.
Pot on plants showing signs of being root-bound.
Add your shredded confidential papers to your compost heap and let the worm population ensure it cannot be read! The shredded paper will help provide air and speed up the rotting process. But make sure you don’t add any shredded envelopes with windows or shiny plastic coated papers they just won’t rot down.
If you end up with a glut of spinach, you can be tempted to focus on picking only the young leaves and throw the tougher older leaves on the compost heap. Here’s a recipe for a Spinach Bhaji which utilises the older leaves and makes a great accompaniment for bbqs. You’ll need:-
3 tbs of olive oil
1 large onion – chopped
3 cloves of garlic –
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs tomato puree and 200 to 300g of spinach leaves – chopped.
Sauté the onion until soft, add everything else, including a splash of water if necessary, sauté until done (usually 10 mins or so).