what to do when

06 Early Summer

Early Summer, June, a month of long light evenings, hopefully warm ones, but this month can also be cool and damp, it is Blighty after all. Watering remains of course crucial and although the grass and weeeds still need controlling the work load alters this month with a switch from sowing and planting to harvesting. The vegetable plot should be full with the greenhouse near emptied of the annual cropping plants now moved from pots into their final sites.


Insure frequency of watering for all pot grown plants is at least thrice daily! Add seaweed solution to your water butt so your plants won’t run short of any trace element Rake mulches aside before rain comes so water reaches the soil then replace again immediately after Examine each and every plant for pests and diseases especially aphids and caterpillars Ensure good weed control, make sure no weeds are getting away, hoe fortnightly if not weekly, don’t forget to keep sharpening your hoe Cut the grass at least fortnightly, preferably weekly, and raise the height of cut of the mower Spray everything growing with diluted seaweed solution, and anything with deficiency symptoms more heavily Deadhead bedding plants and cut back most flowering plants as their blooms fade Promptly dead head roses, prune them back to where the stalks divide then feed and water for an extra flush of blooms Collect seed of spring flowers now set and fading, tie a paper bag over the heads so you don’t lose the seed Tie in new growths of climbing plants Fill up holes in your sunny ornamental beds with a tropical bedding display, still in their pots but submerged, of your tougher tropical house plants such as spider plants, Tradescantia, monsteras and colocasias, all of which can do really well outdoors
Sow in any spare spot a mix of Night scented and Virginian stocks for colour and scent on warm late summer evenings Sow biennial and perennial flowers in a nursery bed or individual pots Barbecue season underway- save all bones, bake them on the ashes, pound to bits and add valuable phosphates to your compost Turn pond blanket weed into hanging basket liners and mulch mats Prevent moles pushing out new plants with huge 'pins' made from wire coat hangars or old bicycle wheel spokes Soon the days start drawing in- enjoy the long evenings when we have them
Go out late on a warm night just to smell the evening scents

AND in the orchard and fruit cage

Spray well diluted seaweed solution on everything, but not during parching hot sun, better early morning or late evening
Pick up and bury or burn all little fruits falling from trees as these are often infested with grubs Stop the strawberry fruits being infected or contaminated with dirt by putting straw or shredded newspaper underneath, -or a jam jar pushed over fruit will keep the weather, slugs and birds off! About the end of this month the apples have June drop when the surplus fruitlets are dropped to promote the rest, shake the trees to remove as many small fruits as possible, pick up and dispose of these chats Thin apricots and peaches really ruthlessly so the remainder get bigger- never let two be near enough to touch as they swell Fruit thinning for other tree fruits and prize gooseberries- the first de-selection; remove every diseased, decayed, damaged, misshapen, distorted and congested fruitlet, compost or burn these rejects immediately, then protect remainder from birds Thin new raspberry canes to a hand’s breadth apart, on average Blackcurrants can be pruned at the same time as picking- cut cropping branches back hard with the ripe fruit on them, you can then pick these elsewhere in more comfort Don't pick all your gooseberries, red and white currants, all at once (and under ripe) protect some with umbrellas and net bags to fully ripen and become scrumptious Start Summer Pruning- that is; shorten most of the young growths by three quarters on most trained fruit trees and bushes to let in more light and air Prune grapevines back to three or five leaves after a flower truss

AND in the vegetable plot

Water everything generously, especially salad crops, and the beans, peas, and tomatoes even more when they flower
Mark or dig up garlic before the leaves fade wither and disappear or you won't find all of it Last chance to plant early seed potatoes for a decent crop, and a good time to be sowing more peas, runner and French beans
It’s not too late for a salad crop of turnips- if they don’t do for you try adding bone meal when you sow Sow more successional crops (more small batches) of lettuces, radishes, spring onions and other saladings such as rocket, chervil, dill and beetroot, kohl rabi, Swedes, spinach, chicory, endive The end of the month the days grow longer again and now you can hope for more success sowing Pak choi and other Chinese greens and Florence fennel Move any remaining transplant vegetables into the ground as soon as possible, especially leeks, brassicas, squashes, tomatoes etc Green up any spare soil in the beds and borders as soon as possible- better a green manure than bare soil baking dry Remove any bolting (going to flower) beet or onions to prevent these ‘encouraging’ others Stop (nip out tip) of runner beans at top of support to make them bushier Although not strictly necessary it really helps broad beans, sweet corn and peas if you draw the soil up around the haulm (stems) as this supports them and encourages bigger yields, earth up with soil first then later you can use grass clippings Give potatoes a really good soaking when you see their flowers appear as this is when the young tubers are swelling Go round nipping off the flowers from potato plants as this can increase yields, allegedly by a ton per acre Be sure to earth up main crop potatoes to keep light from reaching their swelling tubers- you can use layers of wet newspapers held down with whatever, or just grass clippings Fill aerosol caps or plastic cups with beer dregs, milk or fruit juice, bury to the lip and put them near the potato crop so the slugs can drown themselves Don’t worry if a very early variety of potatoes all wither away- it’s probably not blight, just normal as these are a quick crop and now need digging up Harvest and use, or store and preserve everything before it disappears Courgettes (zucchini) should start to crop heavily from now on- inspect them every day and take each fruit when it is a tad on the small size and then you get many more- NEVER leave any to get big as this stops more forming Pick peas, beans, courgettes, gherkins and sweet peas as fast as they come If you're finishing off a compost heap, add a thick layer of soil and a cold frame or cloche then plant a melon or cucumber in it for a wonderful crop


Don’t forget to feed and water houseplants which get neglected in summer


For Father's day, why not ask him if there’s a job in the garden he’s been avoiding and do it for him - if it's out of season give him an IOU until the right time Not enough soft fruit or want more trees, or roses etc. plan and order now for bare root autumn planting

GREENHOUSE Examine each and every plant for pests and diseases especially aphids, red spider mite and whitefly Pot up everything left needing re-potting, add new canes and ties to support those in need Increase frequency of watering for all pot grown plants to at least thrice daily! Feed indoor pot plants with comfrey or borage liquid or seaweed solution weekly Melons; must be pollinated, must stop (nip out tip) shoots a few leaves after the fruits
Cucumbers; must NOT be pollinated, remove each and every male flower (no wee fruit behind them), and do NOT stop the shoots Pick ripe tomatoes promptly as if left to hang they reduce the size and number of others forming Put banana skins near ripening tomatoes to hurry them up Plant some early varieties in big pots to grow under cover then keep in their pots to be ‘new’ potatoes for winter feasts