Vegetable Gardening in Early Summer
What to do in Vegetable Garden in June
There should be less wedding now as the vegetables fill out, but they can still be a problem if the weather has been wet, especially in the case of onions and leeks, whose leaves are thin and unlikely to keep down competition.
If the weather is hot and dry, give vegetables a plenty of water with a fine spray every few days. A thorough soaking is preferable to several light sprinklings, which can do more harm than good. If you haven't got the time or enough water to go round, give first priority to seedlings, along with plants growing in pots, tubs, growing-bags and frames. Also tomatoes, lettuce, celery and radishes are less tolerant of drought than others such as parsnips, Brussels sprouts and Savoy cabbages, so water accordingly.
What Vegetable Seeds to Sow in June
Continue succession sowing of salad crops and make a last sowing of French beans and peas. Sow a quick maturing early pea, such as 'Early Onward', so that you can harvest the peas before the colder nights of autumn. You can also prolong the season by giving cloche protection when the weather turns cooler.
Continue sowing root vegetables like carrots, beetroot, kohlrabi, swede and turnip to provide winter crops. June is also a good month to sow Chinese cabbage. You can also sow spinach beet now for a very welcome winter and spring leaf vegetable. Winter salads can also be started now by sowing chicory and endive towards the end of June. Those sown last month can be thinned.
Thinning, planting out and transplanting to final positions will start to overtake sowing as the main activity on the vegetable front. Deal with tender crops first, if you are pushed for time. Lettuce and tomatoes have a much shorter life cycle than brassicas, for example.
When thinning carrots, make sure you firm the soil around remaining plants to deter carrot flies. Always remove the thinning, as they will also attract carrot flies.
What Vegetables to Plant in June
Once you are confident that frosts are over, plant out, tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, sweet corn, runner and French beans.
Outdoor tomatoes should be 15-23 cm (6-9 in) tall, with the first flower truss just showing. Give them the sunniest, most sheltered spot you can find, and if you are not growing bush cultivars, provide a tall stake for each plant.
Plant-out brassicas, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage as soon as the young plants have made four or five true leaves.
There are several methods of growing leeks, to provide the blanching they need. They can be grown in well manured trenches, 30 cm (1 ft) deep; which are gradually filled with soil as the leeks grow. You can also grow them on the flat and later provide, paper, polythene or cardboard collars, using earthed-up soil to keep them in place. The last and most popular method is to make a dibber hole about 15 cm (6 in) deep, drop the plant in and fill the hole with water. This will be sufficient to settle the young leek in the ground without any further firming and, over the weeks, it will grow and fill the hole.
If you didn't have time to sow your own leeks and brassicas, you can often buy young plants from nurseries or garden centres. Select plants that are fresh looking, and get them into their new home as soon as possible. If you are growing winter celery, then trenches are a must-the trenches are gradually filled in to blanch the celery and you can use the earthed-up soil between the trenches for catch crops.
What Vegetables to Harvest in June
Early sown salad crops can be enjoyed this month and early potatoes should be ready. Don't lift more than you need for any one-day, as their lovely fresh flavour is soon lost.
Japanese onions planted out last autumn will be ready-again, only take what you need for one day.
Autumn-sown peas can be picked now. Harvest them while they are young and tender, to encourage a steady supply. If pea moth maggots have been a nuisance in the past spray about one week after the first flowers open.
Towards the end of the month stop picking asparagus, and allow the pretty, fern-like foliage to grow and build-up the roots for next year. Also stop pulling rhubarb during June so that the plants have time to recover during the rest of the growing season.
Other things to do in the Vegetable Patch
Celery is a particularly thirsty crop, and must not be allowed to dry out. Also watch out for celery fly, indicated by brown blisters on the leaves, spray as necessary.
Towards the end of June, shallots planted in spring will start to swell. Gently scrape away the soil from the necks of the bulbs, to expose them to warmth and light.
Continue tying in runner beans and check that all is well with pea supports.
Jerusalem artichokes may need staking now, if they are growing in a very windy spot.
Continue pinching-out operations, as and when necessary-the growing tips and side shoots of trailing marrows and ridge cucumbers.
Most vegetables will benefit from a feed of quick-acting, compound fertilizer in liquid form.
Gradually finish earthing up main crop potatoes this month,
Once the bottom flowers of broad bean plants have formed pods 8-10 cm (3-4 in) long, nip out the tops of the plants to stop them growing any higher than necessary. This also keeps the dreaded blackfly from massing on the tender shoots. This a black aphid, which almost invariably infests the growing point of broad beans, can seriously weaken the plants if left untreated.
Harvesting and Storing Herbs
You can start harvesting herbs from the end of June to well into summer. Pick and use herbs fresh in the kitchen as you require as they are most flavour some when picked young. If you are picking herbs for drying do it before the flowers open, on a dry, sunny day.
To dry large-leaved herbs, strip the leaves from the stems and lay them out on wire trays, so air can circulate around them. Alternatively, spread them out on sheets of paper. Small-leaved herbs should be tied in bundles, then loosely wrapped in a porous material, such as muslin, to keep dust off. You can dry the bunches by hanging them upside-down to dry in a warm, dark, airy place at a temperature of 18-21°C (65- 70°F). Alternatively spread them out in a single layer on a tray and place in low oven with the oven door open so the temperature does not rise above 32°C (90°F). Once the herbs are completely dry and crisp, crush them between two sheets of paper, then store in labeled, airtight containers away from the light.
Mint, basil, chives, tarragon and parsley can also be frozen. Blanch the herbs (except for parsley) for 30 seconds in boiling water then plunge into ice cold water for another 30 seconds. Drain carefully and freeze in sealed plastic bags. Alternatively you can freeze them in water in an ice cube tray. Once frozen the cubes of herbs can be turned-out and put into bags and then stored in the freezer. The cubes will provide ideal portions for use at cooking time.
Vegetables in Season
Lettuce and salad leaves
Japanese onions (autumn sown)
Early and autumn sown peas
Continue to harvest asparagus until the end of the month.