June in the Garden
June is a wonderful month in the garden as borders burst to life and trees fill out. However, it’s also a busy month, with bulbs to be lifted, seeds to pot on and frequent mowing.
Towards the end of the month, when the foliage has died down or turned yellow, spring-flowering bulbs can be lifted. Lift tulips each year immediately after flowering and replant them in a sunny spot to ripen. Lifting bulbs frees up space in your flower borders. Other spring-flowering bulbs only need to be lifted when they appear to be deteriorating or when the plants become overcrowded. Push a fork into the soil, well away from the clump of bulbs, and sufficiently deep to avoid damage to the plant’s roots.
Leave the bulbs to dry off in boxes in a dry, freely ventilated shed. Burn any that are soft of affected by eelworm. When the bulbs are dry take off the dead leaves, remove the old roots and rub away the dry skins. Put the cleaner bulbs back into boxes or trays and leave them in a cool place. Keep the different kinds separate from one another and label them carefully.
Water gladioli during dry weather. A good drenching is far better than a few dribbles of water. Stake the plants now if this has not been done already. Otherwise, as the weight of the top growth increases, there will b some rocking in the wind, especially in exposed gardens. Mulch both gladioli and lilies with compost, peat or leaf-mould to conserve moisture, but ensure that no organic material gets round the collar of the plants, as this can increase the risk of fungal infections and rotting. Once flower spikes appear, keep a look out for aphids, epecially in dry weather.
Now is also the time to order spring-flowering bulbs for next year which need planting in autumn, especially narcissi.
May-flowering tulips should be removed as soon as the flowers fade to make way for half-hardy bedding plants. If the bulbs are not lifted, decaying leaves and petals should be destroyed at once to avoid spread of disease.
Having cleared the ground, a complete fertiliser can be forked into the soil before replanting. Zinnias, asters, African marigolds, penstemons, petunias, cosmos, tuberous and fibrous-rooted begonias, dahlias, ageratum, nemesia, Salvia splendens, and lobelia are just a few of the half-hardy plants the can still be planted.
Bushy-leaved, bright-flowered plants work particularly well at the front of the border, forming a neat, pretty edging. Good examples include tagetes, dwarf French marigolds, and lobelia.
Foliage plants that can be planted now include the silver-leaved Cineraria maritima and the white Senecio cineraria. Standard fuchsias also look attractive in a border, too, their handsome flower heads rising high above most other plants. Houses under glass until June, the pots in which the standards have been raised can be sunk into the ground, enabling pot and plant to be lifted in autumn for wintering in a frost-free place.
Most perennials can be propagated by outdoor sowings this month, very fine seeds being sown in boxes in a cold frame. This is by far the cheapest way of stocking a new border or adding interest and variety to an existing collection. To get your border off to a quick start, choose plug plants. They cost a little more but will give quicker, more reliable results.
Hardy annuals should be thinned out as soon as the emerge to avoid damping off. Allow room for each plant to develop following the instructions from your seed supplier.
Lilies need plenty of water throughout the growing season. Water the soil, not the plants, damping the ground to a depth of around 12-15 cms. A mulch will help to conserve moisture between waterings.
Almost all varieties of lilies prefer a cool root run during summer. This can be achieved by planting dwarf perennials or shallow-rooted annuals nearby. Tall, heavy-headed lilies in an exposed position need staking; a single cane beside each stem, secured loosely with soft string, should give sufficient support. Keep an eye out for lily beetles, removing and crushing them by hand when you see them.
While you are enjoying your first crop of early vegetables it’s time to sow more for later on in the season. Careful planning will mean that you have a supply of young succulent crops to harvest throughout the season.
Crops such as bush marrows need a wide strip of ground, but while they are still small, there will be a lot of free ground around them. You can avoid wasting this space by using the areas between the young plants for fast-maturing salads. Many of these need rich, moist soil if they are to grow fast and succulent. Any food and water given to then will also benefit the slower growing vegetables. These areas may also be used as nursery rows for brassicas of all kinds, as these will be planted out before the space is needed.
Quicker maturing varieties of carrots, beetroot, kohlrabi, radish, lettuces and peas are all successional crops which should be sown as early in the month as possible so that more can be sown later.
Lettuce should be sown where it is to remain. It does not transplant well after this month because it then tends to bolt. Instead sow it thinly. It’s also possible to sow radish seed between the lettuce stations. This will germinate more quickly and should be pulled and out of the way before the lettuce needs the space.
Look ahead and plan your winter salads now. Sow chicory, the roots of which will have to be lifted for forcing in the winter. Also sow endive and parsley, okra and French, runner and broad beans, if you have not sown them earlier.
Earlier sown broad beans should now be forming thick and fast. These are good when eaten young. Pods should be gathered when they are about 7-8cms long and cooked whole.
Go along the bean row and nip the tips from the plants now. This helps to make the plants bushier and reduces the risk of infection with blackfly, which tend to take over the top part of the plant.
There is quite a lot of planting to be done now. Young plants are best moved to their final position as soon as they are large enough to handle. Get out all the half-hardy plants that have been raised in the greenhouse or cold frame and remember that the care and attention the receive now will pay dividends later in the season.
Further Tips for June
- Water during dry spells. Pay particular attention to susceptible plants such as those in containers, as well as newly planted bedding and shrubs, leafy vegetables and fruit crops.
- Leave fine clippings on the lawn surface to provide nutrients for the lawn as they rot down.
- Keep annual weeds under control. Use a sharp hoe in dry, sunny conditions to destroy weed seedlings. Also, remove established weeds before they have a chance to set seed.
- Take cuttings of alpines. Many will be less than 2.5cm long. Root in trays of moist sand and cover with clear polythene and place out of direct sunlight. Once rooted, pot up and grown on until the following spring.
- Trim invasive flowering rock plants such as alussum and arabis before they have a chance to self-seed.
- Lift and divide hardy primulas at the end of the month.
- Peg down runners of summer-fruiting strawberries if replacement plants are needed.
- Plant out cabbages, calabreses, cauliflowers, courgettes, leeks, marrows, outdoor tomatoes, and broccoli.
- Remove cloches early this month. Beginning opening the ends a week or so beforehand for a few hours each day, to help the plants harden off.