Gardening Notes For June

Summer has arrived!   The days are wonderfully long, the rains have returned, and the temperatures are enjoyable, yet not stifling on average.  June is filled with chores that linger from spring, as well as preparations necessary for the garden to continue to thrive well into late fall.  Enjoy the coolness of the early morning and evenings for those tasks requiring the most exertion, with the heat of the day reserved for watering and other light duties.  Also, don’t forget to sit down with a cold ice tea to write in your journal or to photodocument your efforts, allowing you to better plan your garden of 2017 during the less hurried days of winter.  
Things to do:

  • Finish decorating containers and mixed borders with annuals and tropicals.  Do not be bashful about using larger and bolder plants such as Bananas, Cannas and Colocasia.
  • Fertilize annuals with a liquid feed once per week through June to give them a good start.  If you used slow release fertilizer in your containers, use a 50% dilute solution of liquid feed.  During hot periods, containers may need to be watered twice per day, especially if they are in the sun and the pots are smaller than 12”.
  • Cut turf weekly.  During periods of drought, irrigate the turf for extended periods in the early morning, promoting deep root growth.  As the summer heat begins, raise the cutting height to 3” to reduce the stress on the turf.
  • Harvest spinach, lettuce, radishes and arugula daily.  As the days become hotter, the lettuce will become more bitter and less tasty.  These plants will also produce flowers or ‘bolt’, after which the foliage becomes extremely bitter, so it is important to harvest while the plants are smaller.  Once the plants begin to bolt, remove them and plant summer squash, okra, cucumbers, pole beans, or other vegetables that will provide a yield in 65-70 days (September into October).
  • Consider planting Cardoons, which are related to artichokes.  According to one of our long time gardening aficionados, Ellen Simonetti, remove the dark green portions of the stem and trim or peel (with a vegetable peeler) the edges of the stem, which are the bitter portions.  Cut the petioles into 4” lengths and simmer in salted water for 2 hours.  Then egg, bread and fry them!  You can also freeze them and toss a handful in a broth, giving the broth an undertone of artichoke!
  • It is not too late to plant tomatoes.  Planting in June often avoids the problems with early blight as well!  As the tomatoes grow, make certain that they are staked, lifting the fruit to come off the ground and reducing the chance of decay.
  • Mulch vegetables with newsprint or cardboard covered with straw, reducing weeds and water loss.  This is ideal for Heirloom tomatoes since they need consistent soil moisture in order to discourage splitting of the fruit.
  • Stop harvesting asparagus and rhubarb.   They need to produce stalks and leaves of sufficient size in order to develop the energy reserves for next year’s harvest.
  • Consider growing chives for a treat for cottage cheese and salads.  The flowers add a nice onion flavor as well and they look great!
  • Resist the urge to remove the yellowing foliage of Daffodils and other bulbs until it has totally turned brown.  Similar to asparagus, the foliage is producing the carbohydrates or stored energy for next year’s floral display.
  • For woody plants, pinch off most of the water sprouts that you see growing from branches or stems – typically they appear at points where they were pruned off this past winter!  Removing them as they start to grow discourages future dormant bud break.
  • Many low branched trees may need to have portions of the lowest branches removed, as the new grow from May and early June adds weight to the branch, causing it to droop lower than is desired.
  • Weed! 
  • If you have deer, apply a deer spray weekly or after a heavy rain.  It is best to rotate weekly between three different types of sprays for best effects.
  • Deadhead May blooming Iris to reduce the occurrence of the Iris borer.  Study the blooms of your Iris; if the blooms are few and the foliage is limp or overly dense, the plant either needs division or to be moved to a more sunny location.
  • Deadhead the Peonies as they finish blooming and lightly fertilize repeat blooming daylilies and Roses at the end of the month for a good August/September bloom.