June gardening tips
Water regularly in dry weather...
Keep all fruit well watered especially during dry spells; mulching with organic matter will help reduce water loss and keep down the weeds too.
The first strawberries are now cropping - hurray - the bliss of eating a sweet, sun-warmed home-grown strawberry must surely be one of the highlights of the English summer! Surround the plants with straw - this keeps the fruit off the soil and helps prevent soil splash which can spread botrytis. If the weather turns wet, strawberries are upsettingly prone to this grey mould - keep a beady eye on your crop and if you spot it, remove all infected fruits and remember not to put them on the compost....this will only spread the problem. Peg down runners into pots to increase the number of plants or if you have enough, pinch them out near their origin. Protect fruit trees, currant bushes and gooseberries with netting; birds love developing fruit buds and your entire crop can disappear with astonishing speed unless protected! Gooseberry sawfly can be devastating - look out for caterpillars and pick them off as soon as you see them - alternatively use Earth Matters (this can be used safely on edible crops) or ask in the centre for advice.
Harvest your culinary gooseberries - pudding varieties will not be ripe enough to enjoy raw until next month, although they can be used for cooking.
ELDERFLOWER CORDIAL - one of the joys of summer....pick the flowers for this easily made and refreshing drink. Add a slug of cordial to whipped cream for a subtle fillip to fruity puddings or put a head or two in a muslin bag when you are stewing gooseberries to introduce their fabulous muscat flavour into the equation.
The centres are now full of teenage plantlets of vegetables, salads and herbs. For those who find growing from seed daunting, this is the ideal solution, so plant away and look forward to the fruits of your labours!
Many vegetable crops can still be sown as seed this month - so check the instructions on the packets and head off to your veggie patch! Carrots, lettuces, spinach, salad leaves, radishes, spring onions, leeks and chard are just a few ideas to get your healthy, cheap and home-grown food underway! Sow salads in short runs every fortnight to ensure a continuous crop. Do not - as I once did - sow entire packets of seed in one go......the resulting glut is ridiculous!
Plant out brassicas such as Brussels sprouts, winter cabbages and sprouting broccoli and grow short term crops such as lettuces and radishes between them to maximise the space.
Plant out tomato plants with a 4 foot cane for support (unless they are bush varieties) come the middle of the month. Sink empty plant pots next to each one for precision watering to the roots – and remember to water regularly. Keep pinching out the side shoots in the 'armpits' as soon as they appear on cordon (single stemmed) tomato varieties.
Plant out French and runner bean plants at the bottom of 8 foot canes in rows or wigwams. Mulch with grass clippings or compost to help retain moisture and keep well watered in dry periods. It's not too late to sow as seeds now, but tempus fugit.....
Sow chard and perpetual spinach if you haven't already done so - once they start cropping pick them over lightly and frequently to keep the supply of fresh new leaves coming.
Earth up potatoes again – this prevents sunlight getting to the tubers, which turns them green and renders them poisonous. Start to harvest first earlies when the flowers are over - only lift what you need and enjoy the moment of revelation as you unearth those glorious moon coloured globes....
Pinch out broad bean tips - this discourages blackfly - and erect a surround of canes connected by string to support the plants when they produce pods.
Get your ‘Grow your Own’ project off to a great start with our ‘teenage’ salad and vegetable plants - so much easier than growing from seed!