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.
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.
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.
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