Dig it

With Fulke Andel

Gardening advice for the new (and not so knew) gardener

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 that can really harm plants, 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 for June

Sow/Plant

  • French and runner beans
  • Maincrop 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 mini-ature 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

Reader’s Tips

Place planted tubs under hanging baskets. So, when you water the hanging baskets, the excess water runs out and waters the tubs underneath. S.D. Hendy

Seasonal Recipe – Beetroot and garlic soup

Beetroot and garlic are just coming in to season now, so here’s a recipe for a fine, fresh, summer soup. You will need around 1kg of beetroot, 4 cloves of garlic, some sprigs of thyme, 1 bay leaf, 3 tbsp of olive oil, 1 litre of vegetable stock, salt and pepper. Some dill to garnish and horseradish cream to serve.

Heat oven to 200 degrees C, wash the beetroot, but don’t cut them. Mix the beetroot with the thyme, oil, whole garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper and place in a roasting tray along with 125mls of water. Cover tightly with foil and roast for around an hour – until the beetroot are tender when pierced with a knife. Once ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Top and tail the beetroot and rub off the skin. Chop them and place in a blender. Squeeze the garlic from their skins into the blender. Add some of the stock and blitz until you get a smooth puree. Transfer to a saucepan and add stock until you get the consistency you want. Season to taste and garnish with chopped dill and a swirl of horseradish cream.

 

 

 

 

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