Dig it

With Fulke Andel - Gardening Advice for the NEW (and not so new) gardener

I think the seasons have been playing games with us. Everything in the garden has been around a month late, then we get a hot spell at the start of May and boom – everything starts growing! So here we are with the longest day of the year on the horizon. It will soon be downhill from there. However, the extra light and warmth of June encourages the garden to put on an exuberant burst of growth. Unfortunately, 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 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, Godetia and Clarkia. 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 the Month of June

Sow/Plant French and runner beans / Main crop peas / Beetroot / Carrots / Turnips / Swedes / Cauliflowers / Parsnips / Endive / Kohlrabi / Sweetcorn / Squash Courgette and marrows / Cucumber

Plant Out Brussels sprouts / Summer cabbages / Celery / Celeriac / Leeks

Harvest Salad crops / Early potatoes / Early peas / Beetroot / Young carrots / Summer spinach

Fruit 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!

General

  • 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.

Readers Tips

Keep an eye open for reduced prices on herbaceous plants in your local garden centre, especially those that have just finished flowering. There are some good bargains to be had, as the garden centres don’t want to hang on to them until the following year. JC Gowerton

Blackcurrant Compote

Seasonal Recipe

Blackcurrants should be appearing in the shops towards the end of this month. Here’s a simple recipe for a blackcurrant compote. You will need 250g of black-currants, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water. Rinse the blackcurrants in water and pull them off the stalks. Put them in a saucepan along with the sugar and water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat until they bubble gently. Keep them bubbling for 5 mins until they just start to burst, remove from the heat. Serve with rice pudding, or over meringues. Lovely!

 

 

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