In June, it truly seems as if all things are possible. The garden is often fairly clear of weeds and little seedlings line up in perfectly straight rows. Tomato plants are bushy and green and there’s nary a pesky bug to be seen.
But wait — all this perfection will disappear without a bit of tender loving care from you.
First up in June, plant. Everything can go into the ground in June, even those heat-loving pepper and eggplant seedlings. If your soil is slow to warm, pull back any mulch or cover with clear plastic on a sunny day to help boost the temperature. Plant tomatoes, beans, broccoli, cabbages, potatoes, asparagus, or whatever else your heart desires. In the flower bed, look to annuals for all-season bloom but also pop in some colorful summer bulbs and some reliable perennials. In June, the weeds are few, the soil is easy to work, and the gardener can plant freely and with a happy heart.
If you were able to get in some early spring greens or brassicas, you might be able to harvest this month. We’ve been eating garden lettuce and spinach since March 29. As the month progresses, keep an eye out for ripe strawberries. June is called berry month for a good reason.
Even as you plant, do some maintenance. Mark the site of fading bulb foliage if you plan to dig and divide bulbs this fall. Prune spring-bearing shrubs after the bloom has faded. A small patch of clear land can turn into a hotbed of weed activity in just a few days. Don’t let the weeds get ahead of you this year. For the least amount of work, actively walk through the garden at least twice a week, taking the time to pull small weeds, cut back large ones or toss mulch on bare soil. In the short time it takes to stroll through the garden, you can get a lot of work done, saving small chores from becoming huge ones. Mulch is your friend. Take the time to apply a layer of mulch and save yourself hours of work.
Stay vigilant against garden pests. Small seedlings easily fall victim to an assault of insects. Cucumber beetles can quickly destroy cucumber and squash plants. Overnight, a variety of predators can eat your bean shoots down to a nub. I like to start bean, squash and cucumber seedlings in paper pots, allowing them to grow several new leaves before setting out in the garden, thus giving the plant a better start. At the first sign of the white cabbage moth, protect brassicas with a Bacillus thuringiensi (Bt) spray or powder. For the best protection against insects, cover plants with a floating row cover or hoop frame until the plants are well established.
Remember to water. After a wet spring, it’s easy to forget supplemental moisture. A stressed plant is a lure for insects. Figure out your watering method now. Your best bet is a drip system and now is the perfect time to lay out the drip lines. Vegetables and fruits are composed mostly of water. They may survive a long dry spell, but they will thrive if there is always plenty of water. Small seeds are often planted close to the soil surface and can dry out quickly so pay attention. Once the plant develops, water it deeply to encourage the roots to reach down and stabilize the plant.
Above all else, enjoy! Take pictures of the garden early in the month and then as the month ends. You’ll be delightfully happy with the comparison.
Beverly Carney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.