Remember last month I wrote that I think of May as a “race to the beginning” when I try to get everything in the ground to start growing as soon as possible? Well…I never quite make it–there are always a few things I don’t get planted–so early June is when I plant the May “leftover” starts. Waiting for my winter Bloomsdale Savoy spinach to go to seed to make room, I held up planting the peppers for a few weeks. I also debated about how many eggplants and tomatoes to plant until I learned that the irrigation situation is worse than I thought. I have given away many of my starts. Hopefully, those who adopted them will have more water than I will.
This year, due to the lack of irrigation water, I have planted a much-reduced garden. I have two vegetable garden areas – 6 raised beds and a huge in-ground garden suitable for plants that require a lot of space like squash, tomatoes, corn, pumpkins, and gourds. Sadly, I will not have the water for any of these this year (except 4 tomato plants). I’m piling mulch (straw and leaves) on the “upper garden” to keep the weeds at bay until, hopefully, next year or maybe this fall when I may be able to use that area again.
I will not be making tomato soup, sauce or paste. Fortunately, I have a few jars left from previous years. No corn roast for this year and I will have to wait to try a new method of curing gourds. There is nothing so disappointing for a gardener as having to reduce the size of the garden while not growing any new varieties. Boohoo!
Two of my apple trees failed to bloom for the first time ever, so I won’t be getting any Braeburns or Golden Delicious. I asked around and a couple of friends reported no blooms on their trees, but not everyone has this problem. Hmm…Mine are mature trees which have always produced well and they appear very healthy, so I researched reasons for this failure. There seem to be two possible reasons: either they are taking the year off or we did not get enough sub-freezing days this winter for them to bloom. My other apple tree didn’t get the memo, fortunately. It bloomed well and should have lots of apples.
In June, we can still direct sow a long list of vegetables: bush or pole beans, carrots, corn, beets, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, edamame, okra, scallions, lettuce, Malabar and New Zealand spinach and parsnips. There are also many herbs than can be planted outdoors this month: dill, chervil, basil, summer savory and amaranth.
Be sure to get after the weeds while they are still small and have small root systems. With the warmer weather, weeds grow at an astonishing rate and can rob your garden plants of nutrition and water they need. Landscape cloth and a thick layer of mulch are your best defense.
In order to get a good crop of potatoes, hill the plants when they are about 8” high by raking soil, straw, leaves, grass clippings or compost to cover the stems, leaving about 4” showing. Repeat this every 2–3 weeks to protect the developing potatoes from direct sunlight and to provide more space for the tubers to develop.
One last note, be sure to label your veggies in the garden. If you are like me, you have 3-4 different varieties of some types of veggies like beans, lettuce, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, etc. If one variety does particularly well or you love one type, but don’t want to repeat another, you want to be able to tell them apart. I have found that the little white plastic stakes or seed packets on sticks don’t last all summer. The ink fades and they often get lost. I have taken to using wooden stakes with permanent marker for many things like corn, squash, pumpkins, gourds and row crops. Duct tape labeled with permanent marker doubled over the wire cages of tomato, pepper or eggplant cages also works well.
June garden guide
Here a a few of the many things to do in June:
Direct seed: There are almost two dozen things to direct seed this month, from amaranth to summer savory.
Transplant: From cantaloupe to watermelon, there’s plenty to do.
Sow for transplanting: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower
Don’t forget to control pests and diseases!
For more, check out the Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley