Jobs for the month: June 2013

Expert Gardening Advice from Sue HoyJune is a lovely time in the garden – for most of us, it’s when our gardens look their best. The vegetable plot is bursting at the seams with good things to eat, roses are in full bloom and the flower borders are a mass of colour.

All this lush beauty means that there’s still plenty of hard work to be done to keep things looking good, but do take time out to sit and enjoy the colour and scent of your garden, even if it’s a snatched half hour at the end of a beautiful long summer’s day.

Sadly, this will be my last jobs for the month blog post as I’m retiring from my consultancy role with Trees and Hedging, but I have really enjoyed writing these posts and I’d like to thank you all for reading them.

Best wishes, Sue Hoy

Trees and hedging:

Hornbeam - Carpinus betulusRemember to keep newly planted trees and hedging plants well watered and weed free for the first year after planting to encourage good growth.

Cut hedges to keep them neat, but check for nesting birds first so that you don’t disturb them. One year old hedges can be trimmed lightly to help them thicken out to make a good hedge; don’t make the mistake of leaving them to grow to the height you want before cutting, because they will always look thin and patchy.

Check all stakes and ties to make sure that they’re not causing damage. Trees only need staking for the first 3-4 years after planting – after that they should be removed.

Prune early-flowering shrubs like Kerria and Viburnum after flowering, taking out about one third of the stems close to ground level. Follow the golden rule of feeding after pruning, with either Fish, Blood and Bone, or a good general fertiliser such as Growmore.

Vegetables:

Potatoes:

Grow Your Own Potato Planting Bag and SurroundIn theory, you should be able to harvest the first of the early potatoes this month, but plants are behind by at least a couple of weeks in most parts of the country this season due to the cold, wet weather.

A good indicator that you have something worth digging up is lush top growth and the plants beginning to flower. Test dig one plant to see if the tubers are worth harvesting; if the result is poor, leave them for another week or two.

Tender vegetables:

Tender vegetables like French and runner beans, courgettes, sweetcorn and outdoor tomatoes can be planted out from the beginning of this month.

Make sure you harden them off (accustom them to cooler outdoor conditions first) or they could suffer a check to their growth. Putting them in a cold frame for a few days before planting is ideal, or stand them outside during the day and increase ventilation in the greenhouse at night so long as frost isn’t forecast.

Hardy vegetables:

You may also have to wait a few weeks to harvest broad beans and peas this season, but they’re well on their way now. Watch out for blackfly on the tip of broad bean plants, which can quickly build up into large populations. Prevent infestations by pinching out the tender tips of the shoots where they like to feed before they attack – the tips are delicious lightly steamed as a vegetable.

Harvest lettuce and cut and come again salads while they’re young and tender, and sow a pinch of seed every 3 weeks to ensure a continuous supply. Lettuce seed doesn’t germinate well in high temperatures, so sow late in the evening, or wait for a cooler day.

Sow beetroot, swede, turnips and Chinese Greens. Sow carrots for a late crop. Plant out broccoli, cabbage and celery.

Hoe between the rows of vegetables weekly, both to keep weeds at bay and to allow air into the soil which will help growth. Water crops well in any dry spells.

Fruit:

James Grieve Apple - Malus domestica 'James Grieve'I suspect that most gardeners will be harvesting their strawberries a little late this year. Protect them from birds if you can, but check the netting daily to rescue any fledglings that may have become caught up in it.

Gooseberries are ready for harvesting this month too; gooseberry crumble and gooseberry fool are one of the great seasonal delights. Check for the first signs of gooseberry mildew or sawfly attack. Cutting off the tips of the shoots as soon as they’re affected by mildew will help prevent its spread, otherwise you’ll need to spray with an approved fungicide. Picking off sawfly caterpillars as soon as they appear should control this troublesome pest.

Don’t be alarmed if your apple trees shed young fruitlets – this is called the ‘June drop’ (although it often happens in July) and arises because the tree cannot carry all of the young fruits to maturity.

Stop pulling rhubarb to allow plants to build up strength for next season.

Lawns:

Mow and edge weekly to keep lawns neat and tidy. My grass (I won’t dignify it with the title ‘lawn’) was treated quite late with a feed/weed/mosskiller and I bought an electric scarifier to rake out all the dead moss and weeds. It looks a bit patchy at the moment, but because the grass is growing so strongly, it should recover quickly, although I may need to over-sow in places. If the weather remains damp, it’s a good time to do this yourself, as long as you don’t mind it looking untidy for a few weeks.

Flowers:

Plant out tender perennials like Cosmos, Cleome and annual Rudbeckia after hardening off. Water regularly if conditions are dry. Plant up containers and hanging baskets to add summer colour and feed and water all daily for good results.  Remember to add Broadleaf P4 Water storing granules to help to prevent pots drying out.

Cut back flowering stems of lupin and delphinium after flowering to encourage a second flush of bloom. Watch out for blackfly on lupins and wash it off at the first sign of attack to prevent it spoiling blooms. Cut back flowered stems of columbine (aquilegia) to prevent them setting seed; they seed so freely that they can become a nuisance – I can never bear to dig up plants in my garden.

Tie in climbing roses as they grow (soft tie is brilliant for this) and dead-head roses as they fade to encourage more flowers.

If you grow lilies, check regularly for lily beetle. This orange-red beetle has become a real pest in the past few years, eating both flowers and foliage; pick off any you see and destroy them.

See my ‘how to’ guide on planting containers and hanging baskets.

Tagged: , , ,

Leave a Reply