June is here, the gardening season can really take off now! Longer days, warmer weather coupled with cool nights and gentle rains make for perfect growing conditions.
June is for edibles!! Vegetable gardens, blueberries, raspberries, and all sorts of other edible plants are just coming into their prime season. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, and all other vegetables should be planted as soon as possible to take advantage of as much of our growing season as possible. In planting your garden, make sure enough space consideration is given for each plant; that itty bitty 6-pak cell of a tomato could easily reach 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide by the end of the summer!
Be sure to cage or spiral your tomatoes for support, and remember that trailing plants like cucumber and summer squash can be grown vertically, on trellises to both conserve space in the garden and to provide better air movement around the produce for more even ripening. Squash and pumpkin can be grown in this way as well, just make sure your trellis is nice and strong!
Perennials that have gone by should be deadheaded at this point. It helps keep the garden a little bit neater, and helps cut down on the amount of material that could harbor pests or diseases if we get another wet season. Seeds can also be saved from these plants, though, and many, like columbine, are very easily propagated this way. There could even be some new colors, depending on what has crossed with what while they were blooming! All spring-blooming shrubs and rhododendrons should be deadheaded and pruned at this time as well. Spring-bloomers set next year’s buds on this year’s growth, so don’t delay on trimming.
Peonies and other tall flowering perennials should be given some sort of support when they start blooming, to protect the stems and flowers from being damaged and broken by heavy rains or wind. Another way to prevent this is, of course, by taking in your beautiful blooms and making floral arrangements for indoors. The best time to cut flowers is in the early morning, when it is still cool. This both will reduce stress on the plant itself, and the cut flowers will last longer inside. Good plants for cut flowers are peony, delphinium, Echinacea, phlox, and liatris, among others.
Now is the time to fertilize your lawns too! A slow-release, organic fertilizer will not only give beneficial nutrients to the lawn, but will help improve the soil itself. Look for a variety that has corn gluten meal in it to help prevent weeds later in the season, but be careful with this if you have to over-seed bare patches! The corn gluten will prevent new seed from germinating for several weeks after application.
Take time to enjoy your garden this month. Roses will be blooming, and will be beautiful, before the Japanese beetles come… Think about adding a fountain or birdfeeders to attract beneficial predators – birds eat several thousand insects in the course of a summer, a bonus for those of us who enjoy watching them. Flowing water in a fountain, rather than a birdbath, will also deter mosquitoes from reproducing in the middle of your living space.