After a cool, wet spring some of feel summer’s not really begun. So please forgive us for talking about winter gardens. Yes, we said “winter”. If you want to harvest food throughout the fall and into next year, you need to plan and plant now.
According to local gardening guru Linda Gilkeson, now is the time to sow seeds of Brussel sprouts and the varieties of winter cabbage that take over 120 days to mature (e.g. January King, Danish Ballhead, Langedijker Late Red). Mid to late June is a good time to sow the overwintering varieties of purple sprouting broccoli and cauliflower. Other vegetables that will provide you with lots of good eating throughout the winter can be planted in July and August. To get a handy reference chart of what to plant and when, click here.
June is also the month for roses, and with roses unfortunately comes black spot and powdery mildew. Remove and put into the garbage (not the compost) all diseased leaves and then spray with 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp soap flakes mixed or liquid soap (not detergent) in one litre of water. Make sure you spray the underside of the leaves too for best results. This recipe also works well for powdery mildew on squash and cucumbers. Spray these plants at the first sign of any mildew.
Keep deadheading spent blooms and sheer back oriental poppies, hardy geraniums, centura montana, alchemilla, euphorbias that have finished blooming.
Prune back the long, wispy stems of wisteria, leaving about 5 buds on each lateral stem.
Feed tomatoes, peppers and eggplants with liquid seaweed or a good organic tomato and vegetable fertilizer like Orgunique. Water tomatoes deeply and try to ensure a consistent level of moisture to prevent blossom end rot. A good mulch over well-watered soil will conserve moisture at the roots where the plants need it.
Put out squash, tomatoes, and peppers and other plants you’ve already started from seed. If you didn’t have time to start your own tomatoes, we still have organic tomatoes, peppers and herbs for sale at Dig This.
Sow beans, corn, and squash, and keep sowing carrots, peas, spinach, lettuce and greens, and beets for a continuous harvest throughout the summer and fall.
Remove the curly seed heads of hard-neck garlic – called “scapes” – so the plant will put all of its energy into the bulb. These tender tops make great additions to stir fries! And you can make a dynamite pesto with them.
In June, the gardens look lush, but dig down a little and you’ll find dry soil. Don’t forget to keep plants well-watered until they are established. Be sure to check your local watering restrictions.
If you haven’t sown parsnips yet, now’s the time. They germinate best in cool soil so if we get another sudden heat spell, shade the seedbed with newspaper, burlap, etc. and keep it moist until the seeds germinate. If you started them earlier, those will be fine for over-wintering and much larger than later sown plants.
Remove runners from strawberries. Leaving runners attached will sap the plant’s energy. The detached runners can be rooted in pots of compost, ready for starting a new strawberry bed in late summer. Mulch the plants to help retain water in the soil and keep the fruit dry and clean.
Harvest rhubarb by gently pulling the stalk as low as possible to the base of the plant and at the same time twisting. The leaves can go on the compost heap – definitely don’t eat them because they are poisonous.
Loosely tie in strong new raspberry canes as they grow.
Water pots and baskets, as plants are growing vigorously. New plants should be watered in well at planting time, and during dry spells. When you plant, create a shallow dip around the plant base to hold water, and give a good soaking every couple of days, not a cupful twice a day. The aim is to encourage roots to extend deep down into the soil, seeking out moisture. Little and often watering methods encourage roots to develop close to the soil surface where they are more likely to dry out.
Mulch around plants in beds and borders (and in large containers), to retain moisture. A thick layer of leafmould is the best mulch, but grass clippings make a good substitute, as does composted wood chippings. A layer of newspaper, covered over with grass mowings will help to suppress weeds and retain valuable moisture during long hot spells.