June is when the summer officially starts and we really start reaping the benefits of the work we’ve put into our growing space. We can enjoy delicious strawberries and peas fresh from the pod, as well as lettuces, chard and even the first potatoes.
We love this month but so do pests and weeds – everyone is on the lookout for something yummy to eat, be it nutritious sap, young tender leaves or bare soil to grow roots into. It’s a good time to start keeping on top of unwanted visitors and making sure weeds don’t compete with our plants for nutrients and light.
And hopefully it’s a time for BBQs, fun and a chance to amaze friends and relatives with a taste of your freshly grown crops.
Sow, plant, propagate
- Keep on sowing salad leaves. Try and sow these in a place with some light shade during the day as the hot weather can make them bolt (turn to flower and become bitter).
- Sow carrots, French and runner beans, calabrese, beetroot, kohl rabi, swede, kale and turnips. Wait until 21st June to plant Florence fennel.
- Sow corn salad, endive and radishes and make one more sowing of white turnips and dwarf French beans.
- Outdoor tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, cucumbers, sprouts, cabbages and sweetcorn plants can go outside at the beginning of the month. Remember that sweetcorn is wind pollinated and therefore needs to be planted in a block rather than a row.
- When the risk of late frost has passed harden off and plant out chillies and sweet peppers.
- If you haven’t raised your plants already, early June is a good time to sow courgettes, marrows and squashes directly in the ground on a well fed soil.
- If you are planting on an allotment try to plant your tomatoes under cover as blight spreads quickly on allotment sites.
- Plant maincrop leeks and sow late sprouting broccoli and calabrese seeds directly where you want to grow them
- Keep harvesting salad leaves, radishes, chard, rhubarb and beetroot and enjoy fresh peas and broad beans.
- Eat the first artichokes. Cook and eat them whole if you’re picking them young and still tightly budded. If you let them grow bigger you’ll need to boil or steam them and eat individual leaves and their delicious heart.
- Harvest asparagus but stop cutting towards the middle of the month.
- Start harvesting the first early potatoes towards the end of the month. They will be ready when the flowers appear and the leaves start to die back.
- Onions planted in the autumn should be ready for harvesting towards the end of the month.
- Enjoy strawberries, gooseberries and cherries.
- Keep the base of your fruit bushes free of weeds and grass.
- Tie up blackberries and any other hybrid berries such as loganberries and tieberries.
- Mulch your bushes and canes with organic matter.
- Observe your fruit trees and bushes carefully and inspect them for any sign of pests and diseases. Watch out for curled out leaves as this is where caterpillars might be sheltering.
- Nurture young fruit trees with this simple check-list:
- Keep the area around the trees moist and free of weeds.
- In the first two years water in case of dry spells – 2 watering cans per tree every 2 weeks should be sufficient, but it might need to be weekly in case of prolonged dry periods or if you have really chalky soil.
- Start spraying the leaves with a foliar feed of seaweed and iron and do so on a monthly basis.
- Remove all the fruitlets in the first year – this means that you won’t have any fruit but the energy will go into feeding strong roots.
- Towards the end of the month, particularly if June is a hot month, start pruning trained fruit trees such as cordons or espaliers.
- During the traditional ‘June drop’ fruit trees try to get rid of excess fruit (apple trees for example tend to produce small clusters of fruitlets) – take out the smallest and damaged fruitlets first and leave a couple per cluster.
- Look after your strawberries – remove old foliage after flowering, compost your straw, pot up healthy runners and discard the rest.
- Remove raspberry suckers.
- From mid-June summer-prune gooseberries, red and white currant bushes and cordons by shortening lateral shoots that have grown in the current season to about five leaves. Leave any new growth if you intend to use those branches to develop the framework for next year.
Jobs to do
- Train your cucumbers – do so by making a tripod with bamboo canes or similar or grow them near a fence that provides them with the support they need.
- Feed your tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and courgettes, particularly if you’re growing them in containers – comfrey and nettle juice is your best and cheapest option. Feeding encourages flowers and fruits and make your plants strong and better able to deal with pests and diseases.
- Feed celery and celeriac with a liquid fertiliser.
- Watch out for black flies attacking legumes, particularly broad beans. Pinch out the top tips whilst the plants are in full flower as this is where black flies gather and might start an infection. Use fine netting or micro mesh to protect your Brassicas from both birds and butterflies.
- Regularly check your Brassicas as this is when caterpillars are going to start showing. As soon as you see a white butterfly hovering amongst your crops check for bright yellow eggs underneath the leaves and get rid of them straight away.
- Keep earthing up your potatoes. Cover the foliage with soil until only the top few inches of leaves are showing. This stops the potatoes going green and toxic in the light and can help keep down diseases.
- Protect soft fruit from hungry birds and cover it with netting.
- Keep on top of your weeds by hoeing or hand-weeding unwanted garden guests regularly
Watering is crucial, particular at fruit set – keep on watering regularly and to keep healthy crops and avoid them bolting prematurely. Let’s still be mindful that water is a precious resource, so what can we prioritise? Young seedlings, containers, potatoes, fruiting fruit and vegetables, legumes, and leafy veg, for example lettuces, spinach and chard, which are prone to bolting in dry weather.
Grow edible flowers and use them fresh – nasturtiums, marigolds, borage, fennel, alliums, cornflowers and rocket flowers will make your salads look gorgeous and give them a very interesting flavour.