Garden Chores for June, 2013

May 31, 2013

IN JUNE, I like to stop and smell the roses (pictured above is climbing ‘New Dawn’). Then I get down and dirty. After all, there are tomato vines to train. And weeds to smother. And spent flowers to deadhead. And potatoes to hill. And…well, just have a look at this list of essential chores:


Watering. Drought sometimes occurs this month just when the steady growth of everything requires moisture. If Nature doesn’t handle the watering chores, your garden hose will.

Compost. Fork over material in your compost pile and soak it thoroughly.

Container Gardens. Keep in mind that plants confined to hanging baskets, window boxes, or pots can’t forage for food and moisture as they would in the open garden. Consequently, feed and water these container plants daily. I water mine twice a day during periods of high heat. (Pictured above, in my Herb Garden: white-striped yellow Calibrachoa ‘Lemon Slice.”)

And speaking of high heat, the temperature here is presently 90 degrees, and the air is choked with humidity. And I’m hosting a garden-tour tomorrow.

Good grief.

Weeds. If pulling weeds isn’t your idea of a good time — I can’t bear the job — smother the offenders with either cardboard or thick layers of newspaper, as above, followed by a thick layer of shredded leaves or some other mulch.

I use common white vinegar to eliminate the weeds which emerge in my brick, gravel, and blue-stone walkways. I do not use vinegar in garden beds.


Astilbe. Discover these deer-resistant plants that sprout fragrant spires of pink, white or red in light shade. They need considerable moisture throughout the summer months.

Chrysanthemum. Pinch top- and side-growth back now and through July.

Iris. Remove at the ground level all stalks bearing faded flowers. I hope you have the twice-blooming types that flower again in the fall.

Peony. If only the fragrant puffs had staying-power! Deadhead spent flowers, and keep the plants well-watered and mulched.

Primula japonica. Keep this deer-resistant “candelabra primrose” moist, and it will bloom for you through all of June. Details and pictures.

Roses. Enjoy them now before the Japanese beetle makes its destructive return. If blackspot is present on foliage, spray weekly with a solution of milk and water.

Or, simply move to Beverly Hills, California. There, blackspot is minimal, and Japanese beetles are unheard of.

Note: No matter how tempting, please do not use Bayer “Rose & Flower Care” anywhere in your garden. Studies show that the product’s active ingredient, Clothianidin, is at least partly responsible for Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder. More details here.


Tomatoes. In the interest of high-quality fruit, remove suckers. Also, tie vines to vertical supports. This year, I’m incorporating crushed egg shells into the soil around my plants. According to research, the shells slowly release calcium, a substance which reduces the chance of blossom-end rot. See all my tomato-growing tips.

Note: As much as I’ve loved my Joan Crawford-Approved tomato trellis over the years, I’m trying a new support-system this summer. It’s called the “Florida Weave.” In a future post, I’ll let you know how this stake-and-twine tomato-training-routine is working out for me.

Blueberries and strawberries. Keep in mind that birds are interested in the ripening fruit as much you are. Consider covering the plants with netting.

Salad Greens. Make new sowings now to replace older crops which have bolted. Otherwise, replant the salad bed with beans, turnips, or beets — all these are quick to grow, and they won’t faint in the summer heat.

Potatoes. Whenever stems reach 6 inches in length, cover all but the top 2 inches with soil, shredded leaves, or weed-free straw. Continue this routine for the first month or so. New potato-bearing stolons will emerge along these covered parts. See my potato-growing guide.

Chives. Be sure to make Chive Blossom Vinegar before flowers fade. You’ll be happy to have this pink, flavorful infusion when winter arrives.

And what about the the green stems of chives? I’d turn them into this utterly-addictive Chive Pesto.

Garlic. If you’re growing the hard-neck type, as I am, remove flowering stalks or “scapes” to encourage further development of the bulbs. I use the scapes to make an incredible dipping sauce.

Houseplants. These enjoy a summer holiday outdoors as much as children do. Of course, out of doors musn’t mean out of sight, out of mind; houseplants require considerable of attention during the warm season. I care for mine this way.

Are my monthly lists of garden chores helpful to you? Perhaps you can let me know by leaving a comment.  As always, I love hearing from you.

Don’t miss anything at A Garden for the House…sign up for Kevin’s weekly newsletter.

Related Posts:
Easy Sugar Cookie Tarts
Homemade Spaetzle with Herbs & Butter
Blueberry Bars


  1. Juanita says:

    Hey Kevin……..
    Yes your monthly lists of Garden Chores are always very helpful
    Whewwwwww……..I am absolutely worn out……I need a cold drink

  2. Juanita – Enjoy your drink. And while you’re at it, pour me one, too. Gin and vermouth will do nicely.

  3. Love reading all your advice, thanks!
    I enjoyed my first experiments with winter
    sowing this year. My veggies are off to a great start!
    I actually enjoy weeding and find it relaxing.
    Except for the invasive bamboo that borders my
    Neighbors yard into mine! Do you have any advice
    About getting rid of it? I’d say it has had 8 or so
    years of spreading and getting bigger! We had
    major landscape renovations last year that included
    backhoes digging some parts out! But the darn things
    are resilient. So every week they grow back a foot!
    There are not many other plants around them,
    could I use straight vinegar after I pull them up?
    Thanks so much!

  4. Hi Sandy – Speak of the devil! Yesterday I cut off stems from a massive clump of false bamboo (“Japanese Knotwood”), and pulled out about a hundred of its nasty little offshoots. It is a tough plant to eradicate.

  5. Amy Halvorson Miller says:

    Thank you for considering our pollinators. To get rid of aphids on roses, I put a little dish soap in a squirt bottle of water and hit them directly a few days in a row. That way I can avoid the ladybird beetles, bees, spiders and all the other beneficial critters living in the garden.

  6. All great advice. My “New Dawn” climber is in its second year and blooming profusely for the first time! I am so excited! I will use your suggestions for beetles and black spot, good to know.
    Re irises, why do you suggest cutting to the ground? Don’t they need sun to promote flower generation for the following year or do they grow on new shoots each year? My apologies if I sound ignorant on the subject, but I am still learning. Thank you for all your effort week after week, and good luck with your party!

  7. Hi Kate – Sorry the iris-direction wasn’t clear. Cut the flower stalk (after the flower fades) — not the foliage! So glad your ‘New Dawn’ is blooming well for you. One of my favorite climbers.

  8. Pam Ulmer says:

    Hey Sandy. We dug our bamboo out with a backhoe like you did and then, when a sprout would show itself, my husband would throw a roofing shingle on top of it and it quickly met it’s demise. After some persistence, they stopped showing up. Perhaps this would help you.

  9. Jill Johnson says:

    Your blog is one of my favorites but between your gardening and your cooking I feel like a real slacker! Thank you for the tip on using milk for blackspot. I will try it this week.

  10. Thanks, Kevin, for your monthly chores, tips and recipes. I made your chive pesto as an appetizer for a dinner party and it was a huge hit! Then I made the chive blossom vinegar and gave bottles of it to lots of my friends and they all ooh’d and aaw’d over it! Thanks so much!

  11. Kevin,
    Your garden chores lists are incredibly helpful! Thank you for posting them.
    I also really appreciate your reminder to avoid Bayer “Rose & Flower Care”/Clothianidin because I must say I WAS tempted when I saw blackspot and white flies yesterday on my gorgeous, about-to-bloom climbing roses. I will stick with an organic solution. Save the honey bees! Hope your garden tour went well in spite of this hot & humid weekend we’re having!
    Gardening in zone 6A

  12. Cathy Mullins says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I started subscribing to your wonderful site a few months ago. So here’s my first comment: I think it’s time I get a petition going to demand that Bayer stop using Clothianidin. The most likely place to get started is May I send it to you once it’s a done deal? Perhaps you could post it and your loyal readers could sign it and pass it on.
    I appreciate all you do to keep your home and garden so incredibly beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it all with us.

  13. Cathy Mullins.. I’d sign it..

    Your garden list is somewhat similar to mine.. but my garlic is way behind this year I think.. I fear for it.. I lost a lot of it over winter and now its been raining like crazy so Im concerned about rot.. Im crossing my fingers & praying too. 😉

    I love that New Dawn.. its beautiful.. Im in the process of rooting a climbing rose, Zephrine-Drouhin Shes beautiful and I want more than the one I have.. its beautiful & prolific & in full bloom right now too.
    I may have to see about one of your New Dawn varieties.. its gorgeous!

    Its wet here in Ohio after a very dry spring.. but this next week is supposed to be beautiful.. Maybe I’ll get to get the rest of my garden planted. (hope hope) I did get most of my brasicas, tomatoes & peppers planted and they’re doing well.

    I too tried your winter sowing for the first time this year… It was really awesome for the most part. there were a few that were duds for me, but Im going to try again & feel sure that they’ll be successful.. I sowed a bunch of tomatoes that I would love to have extras of even though I started some in the house under lights too.. Lots of tomatoes, broccoli, bunching onions, leeks, and shasta daisies germinated beautifully. I even got 4 tomatillo plants! Im super excited to grow them! Thanks so much for sharing how to winter sow!

  14. George & Laura says:

    really enjoy your newsletter. The vinegar works perfectly on our gravel driveway. I didn’t get the garlic tips until after I removed the blossoms from my chives but will do so when the next batch comes up. I am just going to try making the chive pesto. Thanks. Thanks from the South coast of Canada.

  15. Hi, Kevin Love your blog & wonderful photography. Wanted to make incredible dipping
    sauce but link showed error 404. Is it not posted?.Thanks so much for all the growing information. Love it & your house Peggy

  16. Hi Cathy – I’m a member of If you want to start a petition against Clothianidin, by all means do so. I’ll sign it, just as I’m sure others will. Commercial bee keepers and environmentalists filed a petition with the EPA in March of 2012, but to date the chemical is still allowed in the United States. Meanwhile, it is banned in Germany.

    Hi KimH – So glad you have Zephrine Drouhin. Several years ago, I wrote about this thornless climber that helps to conceal my ugly garden shed. Love it!

    George & Laura – Oh, do make the chive pesto. It’s incredible.

    Peggy Topham – Thanks for the heads-up about the Garlic Scape Pesto link. This one works: Garlic Scape Pesto.

  17. So glad I discovered you’re newsletter. I tried some winter-sowing this year. Because our Spring was so cool this year, the tomatoes started later than I had hoped but I’m anxious to see how they do now that they’re in the garden. I’m also trying the Florida weave with some of my tomatoes – also anxious to see how well that works.

  18. Susan L. Espersen says:

    I can’t believe that 75% of your tips regard things I am growing! We have a first year garden (vegetable) and clay is trying to harden the surface, but we are persevering! Someone said that lime and peat this fall tilled in will help to break down the clay. True? We planned to plant a cover crop to till in come Spring. Hoping next year’s soil will be easier to work with, but glad we have year one underway! Every row is showing new sprouts and it’s so exciting!!! Thanks so much for keeping me enthused, by posting such fun, informational tips! I smile when I see the email appear! :-)

  19. Phyllis Hollinger says:

    Kevin, love your newsletter and your monthly list of garden chores is very helpful. I look forward to your newsletter each week. Love the Sugar Cookie Tartlets and will definitely try them!

  20. Pam Ulmer- thank you for your suggestion of the
    Roofing shingles to tackle my monstrous Bamboo
    Problem! I’ll give it a try. :-)

  21. Hi Kevin,
    Question re: Garlic plants planted this spring.
    They were planted for me, unfortunately, in clumps.
    When should they be harvested?

  22. Hi Jan – You can harvest garlic after the green tops fall over, and begin to turn brown. More details in my Garlic Sowing & Growing Guide.

  23. christina says:

    Yes!! All of your tips, lists, photos, and ideas always help my husband and I. We also love your recipes… Thank you so much for the time you take to share!!!

  24. garden ninja says:

    I envy you! The weather here in southeast mo has been perfect for gardening but I am laid up for a month with a leg in a cast. I’ll just have to watch for on!

  25. I am also attempting the Florida Weave this year because my Ramapos went rampant last year. I’ve got 4 plants with a stake at either end, and one between each plant, I’m on my second course of twine, about every 6-8″ up is going to get one as the plants grow.

    June’s been incredibly rainy in Central NJ thus far, no one is wanting for water – in fact some are a bit waterlogged. I’d hurt my knee last Friday, otherwise I’d have tended to everything over the remarkably non-rainy weekend.

  26. Barbara Peeters says:

    Can you give some advice regarding moles or gohpers around veggie gardens? Someone told me to dig down to find their tunnel and then stick a lit flare in it to smoke them out….but don’t they just dig farther into my garden? Will they eat the roots of my tomatoes? I’d appreciate any solutions you or your readers have. I also have dogs and don’t want to use poisons that they could get into. Thanks!

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