What to do in June

pests, deadheading, what to plant and more...

By Bridgette Saunders

Photo:shade netting

shade netting

Photo:Slug - one of the pests to look out for

Slug - one of the pests to look out for

Photo:slug trap - but you can make your own - a half buried plastic pot with beer in it will work!

slug trap - but you can make your own - a half buried plastic pot with beer in it will work!

Photo:foxgloves

foxgloves

Photo:staking dahlias

staking dahlias

Photo:strawberry mat

strawberry mat

Photo:pinch out the side shoots

pinch out the side shoots

Photo:Broad beans

Broad beans

Photo:enviromesh

enviromesh

Photo:leeks ready to plant

leeks ready to plant

Photo:signs of blight

signs of blight

Photo:earthing up potatoes

earthing up potatoes

Photo:salad crops in modules

salad crops in modules

Firstly hopefully you can spend plenty of time harvesting your vegetables and flowers.  Danger of frost has passed and the lovely long evenings are here at last!  Although our weather has been very June-like during May we can expect temperatures of 26ºC (80F) and of course it is often the sunniest month of the year.

You can expect thunderstorms which will help with our parched gardens.  If you have a glasshouse or tunnel shading maybe needed.  I use shade netting which can easily be taken down later in the year. You can put this on the outside or inside of your polytunnel or glass house.

In the warm weather that we have been having pests are really on the move – aphids, slugs and snails, mildew, blackfly and many more can be a problem.  We will look at pests and diseases in more details next month.  Remember that ventilation, good hygiene and watering will help to control the population.  Concentrate on picking off the pests and destroy affected leaves as soon as you notice them.  Baits and traps and picking them off by hand will help.

Plants may need staking so keep tying plants to canes as they grow.  This may be weekly as they grow.

Deadheading is a lovely evening job – it really will prolong the life of your plants unless you are collecting the seed.  Take your snips or secateurs and cut your plant down to the next leaf joint. 

Now is a good time to sow some biennials for next year.   You can either use a piece of spare weed free land or sow them in a tray.  I prefer to use a tray as they are in the grown for quite a long time and so it is easier to use a tray – they can be left outside when sown or a cold frame is really good.  Biennials include forget-me-nots, polyanthus, Brompton stocks, sweet Williams and wallflowers which flower in spring and then there is summer-flowering biennials such as foxgloves, verbascums and Canterbury bells.  When they are large enough they can be pricked out into individual pots and planted out into the ground in October.  They all look lovely on an allotment and of course will attract bees.  Don’t forget the more bees you have the better your vegetables!

Many people like to have Dahlias on their allotments and I can see why as they are such good cut flowers.  Now is a good time to plant them out – they need to be about 60 -90cm (2-3ft) apart.  Dig a hold big enough to take the root ball comfortably and make sure you had two or three handfuls of garden compost as they are hungry feeders.  They prefer a soil that has been manured in the previous autumn.  They also need staking. Use three canes and loop string around the canes as the plant grows.

If you have strawberries cover the ground underneath the plants with straw, or you can use strawberry mats, before the fruit trusses begin to bend with the weight of the fruit.  It will help to discourage slugs.  There is nothing worse than picking your strawberries and finding a large juicy strawberry being eaten underneath by a slug!

With your tomatoes make sure you water and feed regularly.  The best food is Maxicrop which is a liquid seaweed feed and will give plenty of potassium to your plant which is what it needs for fruiting and flowering, this is an organic feed or you can you Tomorite which is not organic but does the same job.  Make sure you tie in the tomatoes to canes or I use twisted metal supports from B and Q and tie them in – I have tried using cable ties this year and they have worked well – it just saves me a bit of time!  Don’t forget to pinch out any shoots growing in the ‘armpits’.

You are hopefully harvesting your first broad beans, they taste heavenly!  Plant out your runner beans and also dwarf French beans if you have not already done so. I always plant a few extras in the green house for an insurance policy if the slugs get them and also, if you have grown them in pots, push a few seeds next to them in the soil.  If you have a new allotment sow a few in pots and erect some supports as you can plant them out as late as July as they are not in the ground for long and will be ready before the first frost.  You can try different support systems, I use the traditional kind and use inner tubes from bicycle tyres cut up to tie them together.  They are really flexible and free!  I use hazel poles as supports and I get them from Mick the man on the A23 at Handcross – who sells poles and pergolas. He is always happy to deliver them into Brighton at a good price.

Plant out autumn/winter cabbage, winter cauliflower, sprouting broccoli and kale.  Make sure that you leave plenty of space in between plants. Cabbages should be planted 30-40cm apart, depending on variety and Brussels sprouts 60-75 cm apart.  Firm in well as they become large plants.  Use fine netting such as environmesh that you can buy from Garden Organic – it is excellent for protecting your brassicas – it is expensive but last for years and keeps out all brassica pests.  It is also good for wildlife as the birds don’t get their feet caught in it.

Continue to sow carrots –now is a good time to avoid the carrot fly.  You should be harvesting your first early carrots.

Marrows, courgettes and squashes should be growing well now.  I like to grow the small ones like Sweet Dumpling and Jack be Little and grow them over a trellis, this also keeps the fruit clean.

Leeks can be planted when they are 20cm (8”) high and the thickness of a pencil. Add some pelleted chicken manure a couple of weeks before planting, as they are in the ground for a long time they need plenty of nitrogen.  Trim the roots and green stems by about 1cm, this shocks the plant and allows it to establish itself in the soil much more quickly.  Although it is a patient wait for this vegetable it will be well worth it in the autumn and winter.  Make a hole with a large dibber or crowbar!  Drop in the trimmed leak and fill the whole with water. Plant leeks 15cm apart.

Continue to sow your beetroot and kohlrabi for a succession of crops or as an intercrop in between long term crops such as parsnips, leeks and brassicas.

Potatoes need a good soaking once a week to ensure good yields.  The early crops tend not to be so prone to blight and scab but look out for this on your main crop.  Continue to earth up your potatoes.  You will be harvesting your new potatoes soon; you can usually tell if they are ready when they are in flower.

Keep sowing salad crops in modules to plant out and replace those that you have harvested.  Planting red lettuces next to green ones keeps the slug population down – they don’t seem to like red lettuces as much.

If you have just got your allotment this month try to clear a small space to grow some salad crops – this will give you something to eat later on and then continue to clear the land for other crops.  You can still plant a few potatoes and sow some runner beans in pots to be planted out at the end of June.  Erect some beans poles and this will give you some sense of structure on your plot. 

For more information see rhs.org.uk and gardenorganic.org.uk

For courses on growing and seeds gardenhousebrighton.co.uk

This page was added by Melanie Matthews on 04/06/2011.