Strawberries will start producing runners in June. These can be used to start new plants for next season. Any unwanted runners can be cut off to ensure the energy stays in the parent plant to produce new fruit.
Remember that the parent plants will weaken after a few years' cropping and older plants can become prone to virus infections and mildew.
To select strong plantlets for layering, choose those closest to the parent plant, and no more than three or four should be layered from each plant. To encourage rooting, simply peg them down into the soil, using a bent wire or small stone. For improved results, peg them down into 7.5 cm (3 in) pots filled with good-quality potting compost.
Once rooted the runners can be cut from the parent and the pots moved to a nursery area for growing on. Remember to keep them well watered, as they will dry out relatively rapidly. The rooting plantlets may themselves send out runners, so nip these off, as well as any others that are sent out by the parent plant, as they will only further sap the plants' vigour.
Pests will be working overtime (such as greenfly) this month wherever they find succulent young growth, also codling moth and woolly aphid on apples, saw flies on gooseberries and maggots in the ripening fruit of raspberries.
Spray at the first sign of infestation, and follow up as necessary, according to manufacturers' instructions.
The gradual thinning of apricots and peaches should be finished by the end of June and it will now be time to look at thinning apple, plum and pear trees, which can also produce more fruitlets than they can carry. When thinning use a guide of one or two fruits per spur. Don’t thin the fruitlets all at once but do it gradually, to allow for some losses caused by the natural fruit-fall that takes place later this month and in July. Always remove small, discoloured and misshapen fruits first.
Cane fruits-raspberries, loganberries and blackberries-will be putting on rapid growth, so keep tying-in the young shoots as they grow. You can begin summer-pruning gooseberries and red currants at the end of the month, but not blackcurrants.
Gradually shorten the tips of the side shoots to about 7.5 cm (3 in) from the stems, or just above the fifth leaf on new growth. As gooseberry mildew is partial to the soft, new, tip growth, pruning gooseberries now reduces the chance of infection.
Birds will become a nuisance once strawberries, soft and cane fruit ripen. Although expensive to provide, fruit cages are the only permanent solution to stopping bird damage. However, you can protect fruit plants from birds to some extent with some inexpensive netting. Strawberries for example can easily be protected with lightweight plastic netting stretched over short posts.
Melons growing in frames or under cloches will need much attention this month. After the growing point has been pinched out side shoots will form. Allow four per plant and pinch out any others, then spread the four shoots out in opposite directions. Pinch out the growing tips of these side shoots when each has produced five leaves, to get sub-laterals and flowers.
Melons grown under frames or cloches will need hand pollinating to ensure that pollination takes place.
The most popular system of training grape vines is called the double guyot system, and it involves regular training and tying during June. With this method just two side shoots are trained, horizontally along wires and in opposite directions, from a main stem. A third side shoot is cut back to three buds, in early spring, and it is these buds that will provide next year's side shoots.
The three replacement shoots will be growing strongly now, and should be trained up the centre and then along the top wire. The horizontally trained side shoots will by now also have produced five or six strong-growing shoots, and you should train these vertically, tying them to the wires as they grow. Once they reach the top wire, pinch out any further growth. Pinching out at the top wire leads to side shoots forming all the way up the vertical laterals. These are called secondary laterals and should be stopped after one leaf, or the vine will rapidly become an unmanageable thicket.
Some fruit will be ready for picking towards the end of June.
If your gooseberry bushes are carrying a heavy crop, carry on thinning the fruits as for May, when they are a little larger than peas. You can use these small berries in pies, tarts and jams, and the berries remaining on the bush will grow that much bigger.
In sheltered gardens, the early and main crop strawberries will be ripening quickly now. Pick over the rows daily, and take the berries with the stalk still attached. At the same time, remove any rotting or diseased berries.
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June is the classic time of year to enjoy fresh home grown strawberries.