June is an active and productive month in your garden
The temperature has warmed and there are lots of things to do in the garden. Watch our video where Tricia shows what she is doing in her garden in June (USDA zone 8).
The Soil is Warm
The sun has warmed up the soil enough now that you can direct sow some of the fast growing summer vegetables. Here are some tender annuals that can be direct sown: beans (fresh or dry), squash (summer or winter), melons, corn, pumpkins, cucumbers, okra or sunflowers.
All of these veggies do not like cold temperatures so if you live in an area that is prone to late frosts or just chilly nights (below 45°F), keep some floating rowcover on hand like the Agribon AG-19. It will keep your new starts warm enough through the night! When your sprouts of corn, beans and sunflowers start to come up, the birds will devour them. You can protect them with some bird netting or a light weight rowcover like the Agribon AG-15, to protect the new sprouts until the are big enough where the birds won't bother them.
Extend Your Cool Season Veggies
If you still have some cool season plants still going strong you can extend their growing season with some shade cloth. Plants like peas, greens, or lettuce will either bolt or die if they get too hot. Shade cloth (30-45%) will help keep them a little cooler and keep them producing into the summer.
Garlic Harvest is Just Around the Corner
If you are like me, I can't wait to harvest my garlic that was planted last year in fall. They might be starting to put out their scapes. If allowed to grow they will produce small bulbils, however, this takes away energy from the garlic bulb so it is best to remove them. When the garlic scapes start to curl into a circle, you can clip them off. Save them because they are really good when cooked in some olive oil. Depending on your growing location your garlic may be getting close to finishing. When the bottom 3-4 leaves are dried it is probably time to dig up your garlic. You can check your garlic’s development by digging up a bulb and checking how big the bulb is; a mature bulb should be fully swelled and the wrappers are partially decomposed. About two weeks before you think it is time to dig your garlic, stop watering. This will keep the garlic from rotting. Knowing just when the right time to harvest garlic will take some trial and error, but it is best to pick a little early than to pick late when the garlic wrappers have started to decompose.
Take Care of Your Tomatoes
If you planted your tomatoes back in May (or even earlier), they should get some support to keep them off the ground. There are endless ways to stake your plants, but a simple bamboo pole works great. Other methods of supporting your plants are cages, trellis (like the Hortonova plastic trellis) or training them up twine that is supported from above. You can tie it to the supports with twine, vinyl tape, an old t-shirt torn into strips, or clips like the Zenport Vine and Branch clip. Other plants that need support are peppers, eggplant, and pole beans. Another task to do with your tomatoes is to keep the suckers pruned off. You only want to do this on your indeterminate plants and not on your determinate tomatoes. You can pluck the whole sucker off or just the growing tip.
Thin Your Fruit Trees
By June fruit trees have set their fruit and they are growing nicely. Once the fruit is about the diameter of a quarter, you can thin it out to avoid broken branches and to get bigger fruit in the end. You can read the article Benefits of Summer Fruit Thinning for information on thinning based on variety.
Apply Mulch Around Your PlantsOnce you have your drip irrigation set up it is time to apply your mulch. Mulch will not only help conserve water it will also help keep weeds from growing. The choice is up to you but many folks like to use straw. It is easy to find at your local feed store and pretty inexpensive.
Got Some Extra Space? Plant a Summer Cover Crop
If you have extra space in your garden, there are several summer cover crops that can be planted to help keep weeds down and to nourish the soil. We have several choices available but I like the Peaceful Valley Summer Soil Builder Mix. It is a mix of buckwheat and cowpeas and it will be ready to till under in about 6-7 weeks!
Flowers, flowers, and more flowers
Who doesn't like flowers in the garden or around the home. Now is a great time to plant some summer flowering bulbs like gladiolus, lilies, calla lilies, cannas, begonias, freesia, anemone, ranunculus, crocosmia or dahlias. Another thing to prolong your bloom is to remove any spent flowers. By doing this your plants should put out another flush of flowers for you and the pollinators to enjoy. It is not too late to direct sow some flowers like poppies, zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, sunflowers, or nasturtium. They all grow very fast and you will be enjoying flowers this summer.
For other simple ideas for summer, see our resource center for using straw bales in your garden and let's look forward to July.
One of the most important thing to do in the garden is to enjoy it and grow organic for LIFE!