HERE IN ZONE 5-B, June is the time for roses (fragrant ‘New Dawn,’ above, announces the entrance to my Woodland Garden). It’s also the time for training tomatoes, smothering weeds, and deadheading departed spring flowers. What to do first? I follow this list of 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 or bin and soak it thoroughly.
Container Gardens. Plants confined in hanging baskets, window boxes, or urns (like the pink petunias above) can’t forage for food and moisture as they would in the open garden. Consequently, feed and water these container plants daily. During hot spells, provide water twice a day.
Weeds. If pulling weeds isn’t your idea of a good time — I can’t bear the job — smother the offenders with 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.
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 “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.
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 mitigates the chance of a fungal-disease called “blossom-end rot.” See all my tomato-growing tips.
Blueberries and strawberries. Keep in mind that birds are interested in the ripening fruit as much you are. Better cover 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 don’t mind 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. New potato-bearing stolons will emerge along these covered parts. 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.
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 this incredible pesto.
Houseplants. These enjoy a summer holiday outdoors just as children do. Of course, out of doors doesn’t mean out of sight, out of mind; houseplants require plenty of attention during the warm season. I care for mine this way.
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