Flaming June – the first month of summer . June in the vegetable garden is when you start to see the results of all the work done earlier in the year. Although you can now reap the benefits and really enjoy the garden, there are still some essential jobs that need doing if the rest of the summer is going to be a success.
Judging the best time to plant out tender flowers and vegetables is the key to summer success – not too early for frosts to kill or damage them and not too late to defer flowering and cropping.
Continue making successional, little and often sowings of all salad and quick-maturing crops to ensure a regular supply throughout the summer.
In hot weather, leafy salad crops may do better when sown in partially shady sites, as hot, dry weather can lead to bitter tasting leaves.
Lettuce is best sown in the cool of the evening rather than during the heat of the day – you’ll get better germination that way.
In the veg patch earth up potatoes by using a hoe to pull up the soil when they are approximately 23cm (9″) high.
Now’s the time to plant out tomatoes, once the first truss of flowers has set. You can grow them in soil in the border, but it’s often best to use other methods, such as growing-bags or better still Levington Tomorite Giant Planter, 25-30cm (10-12in) pots or growing rings filled with Miracle-Gro Grow Your Own Vegetable & Fruit Enriched Compost.
And don’t forget you’ll need to regularly water, feed and support the plants as the summer progresses.
You can also plant out aubergines, peppers, courgettes, pumpkins and other tender vegetables that were sown and grown indoors. All fruiting vegetables tend to crop better when their roots are slightly restricted, so growing them in pots is the perfect answer for bumper crops.
Sweet corn is a favourite home-grown vegetable, as it tastes especially sweet when freshly picked and eaten straight away. Seeds can be sown outside now or plants that were grown indoors planted out. Sweetcorn is best grown in blocks with plants spaced 45cm (18in) apart, rather than in rows, to improve pollination of the cobs and so ensure a big crop.
Pinch out the top 10cm (4in) of broad bean plants once the first beans start to form. This will ensure an earlier harvest and may give some degree of blackfly control. If this doesn’t work, as soon as you see blackfly, spray with BugClear Gun! for Fruit & Veg.
To ensure good setting and fruit development make sure to water fruit during dry spells. To avoid mould with strawberry plants lay straw between your plants.
Make sure that fruit trees and bushes – especially newly planted ones – are well watered while flowering and fruiting. A thick mulch of organic matter, such as Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Decorative Pine Bark or Levington Water Saving Decorative Bark, will help retain moisture as well as fight off weed invasion. For best results, the mulch should be 5-7.5cm (2-3in) deep.
Apples that set large amounts of fruit undergo a natural thinning-out that sheds excess fruitlets, called ‘June drop’. After most of the smaller apples have dropped off naturally, go round the tree and pick off any diseased or damaged fruitlets and reduce numbers so there are no more than two apples per cluster.
Reducing the number of plums that have set per branch is also a good idea, as an extra large crop can weigh down branches to such an extent that they snap. Support heavily-laden branches by placing a tall pole in the centre of the tree and lead strings down to the overloaded branches or use a V-shaped stick.
There are several varieties of melons that have been bred for growing in the UK. You can sow seeds now and grow the plants in a warm, sunny, sheltered spot – or a growing frame or greenhouse if you have one.