Update for June, 2017: As I type this in the last few days of May, the sun is shining, the sky is clear and blue, and there has been a solid week of heat out there. What a change from the beginning of May, huh? Of course, by the time you read this, it’s supposed to go back to overcast and kinda drizzly. So maybe not that much of a change.
My gut feeling – which honestly I can’t back up with anything, so caveat emptor – is that our summer will be fairly warm. I don’t think it’ll be one of those summers like – what was it, 2011 I think? – when overnight lows never got out of the 50s?
Oh, God, I just remembered: that was the year I tried making mock apple pie out of all my green tomatoes. I still nearly retch thinking about it. ::shudder:: So gross!
A reader asked me what she should do to compensate for the slow, wet spring and the very delayed harvest on crops like peas.
If your spring crops are not up and growing now, hard – visibly bigger every day – it’s probably too late to count on a good harvest before the days get hot. If your peas are like 2 inches tall, honestly, I’d probably swap them out for direct-seeded bush beans. On the other hand – if I’m wrong and we get another summer-that-isn’t, your delayed spring crops might be fine, even in late July.
What’s the solution? Toss a coin in the air. Do a solar energy dance. Pick a number. Commune with your tomato seedlings. Rock-paper-scissors. Time machine jump 90 days into the future, then come back here and tell us all what the next 3 months have in store!
Personally, I’m all in on summer crops. I have cabbage and broccoli and kale, obviously, but the vast bulk of my garden is planted in tomatoes, corn, cukes, beans, peppers and squash. This is partially because I didn’t actually start gardening for real this year until mid-April, but also because I’m gambling that summer will deliver the heat units.
By the end of June, I think there will be a lot more to harvest than there is now. I see flower blossoms on my tomatoes, a rosy blush on my cherries, strong leaf growth on my broccoli, and beans that seem to be outgrowing early slug damage. It’s not going to be what it could have been had spring cooperated, but I do think we’ll get there eventually.
Besides, isn’t this why we garden, friends? So that we can dance with Mother Nature and twist and tease and turn and tickle our way to homegrown bounty?
If we wanted easy, reliable, uniform and boring, we’d stick to the supermarket, right?
Printable At-A-Glance Grow-Guide!
If you like your Gardening To Lists simple and direct, you’re in luck! Just click the image below to download the June At-A-Glance Grow Guide as a printable PDF.
Or, continue reading for the full details on everything you should be doing in your garden this month.
Plan and Purchase
It’s time to plan the fall and overwintering garden. I know, weird, right? It gets me every year. “Brussels Sprouts? I have to think about Thanksgiving veg now?!” Yup, you do. If you are into the year-round harvest thing, now is when you get your game plan together and start planting for things as far away as next May’s overwintering cauliflower.
Remember: we grow in summer to harvest in fall and winter. If you are new to the year-round gardener thing, you might want to read How To Make Succession Planting and Year-Round Gardening Really Work.
Mid June is about when I start my first wave of fall and winter crops. Brussels sprouts take forever to grow, so I start them early. Fall and winter cauliflower, winter cabbage and broccoli and kohlrabi (the big winter-keeper types) should all be started somewhere between mid-June and mid-July, depending on your particular climate and when you hope to harvest.
At this time of year, if you have a greenhouse or sunny porch, start the fall crops outside, either in a nursery bed or in little pots. They will dry out quickly, though, so be diligent about watering. You can also turn the seed lights back on and start them indoors if that’s easier for you and the energy suck doesn’t bother you.
Be aware of what varieties you are planting. Spring brassicas aren’t bred to hold up in winter weather, so seek out varieties that will work for when you plan to harvest them. Typically, late-maturing cabbages take 100+ days to mature, while the tender speedy spring types are around 60-80.
Rule of thumb: vegetables that grows slower hold longer.
Sow Directly Out
It’s not too late to get any of your direct-seeded summer crops in, but don’t delay.
- Beans – Scarlet Runners are about a foot tall, the rest are just starting to stretch out.
- Summer & Winter Squash – My squashes are all in now. If you direct seed winter squash at this time of year, plant a faster maturing, smaller framed variety. Sowings of summer squash can still go in reliably. I love Cousa type summer squash.
- Melons – Plant a short season variety.
- Cucumbers – Sow directly and try trellising! Cucumbers are easy to grow vertically and you get more in an area and get much straighter cukes that way. Cukes are pretty tender but mature so quickly you could wait until the end of the month to sow and still harvest something for your trouble (but I don’t recommend the delay!)
- Root Vegetables – You will have the best results in very loose open soil and I encourage you to cover your carrot and parsnip seedlings with row cover to prevent the carrot root maggot from destroying your veggies as they do mine with embarrassing frequency. Mid-June to mid-July is a good time for your main fall/winter sowing of root crops.
- A last crop of potatoes can also be put in this month if you sow short-season varieties like Yukon Gold.
- Corn – ASAP.
- Salad Greens – warm weather lettuces, warm-weather New Zealand spinach, etc. can all be sown. Look for hot-weather adapted lettuces and salad greens. The Romaine-types are generally pretty good. Arugula and mustards bolt rapidly in warm weather and with increasing day length. Rapidly. It’s easiest with these to wait on sowing until a few weeks after the solstice.
- Swiss Chard – There’s still time to plant Swiss chard for bountiful late summer and fall harvest. If you get it in this month it’ll be big and lush by October.
- Onions – green onions and overwintering leeks can be sown. Chives and garlic chives can be started in a nursery bed for a harvest next year.
- Herbs: Chives, parsley, mints, marjoram, oregano, dill, fennel, borage and the like can all be sown out. Cilantro, fennel, dill, and of course basil can all be grown. Plant lots of basil if you haven’t already! Everyone loves pesto.
All your warm weather transplants are good to go out now. Just be sensitive to where and how you transplant out. Harden your transplants gently if they are coming from a nice cozy greenhouse.
Be particularly gentle with eggplant and peppers, giving them a warm microclimate in which to snuggle, heat sinks (like wall-o-waters or big rocks) and extra attention, particularly if night-time temps dip, which they still can at this time of year.
- Summer and winter squashes
All the good leafy stuff is ready. Stupid 2017 spring. See update above. By the end of the month I hope this typical list for June holds true.
- Legumes – Bush peas, pole peas, pea greens (can’t forget them!) and favas.
- Lettuce and other salad greens – All of them, it’s Salad-Days time.
- Brassicas –Early cabbage, kohlrabi, early broccoli, early cauliflower and romanesco.
- Roots – Radishes, baby beets and turnips.
- Potatoes – Potatoes are volunteering everywhere, do I just dig up the new baby potatoes and we eat them. Nice weed, huh?
- Strawberries – sweet and delicious!
- Cherries– my cherries are going nuts. In the best possible way.
- Herbs of all kind – I’m way behind on basil, but anything perennial or self seeding is running rampant. Bronze fennel for everybody!
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