By June the vegetable garden is flourishing, with fresh crops of salads, leafy vegetables and baby roots arriving daily. There’s still time to sow some crops, to plug gaps, and if it’s too late to sow… well, you can normally find plants to buy (or swap with friends and neighbours) to cover any forgotten crops or munched seedlings.
For many gardeners June marks the end of the spring rush, and no more seeds will be sown, except perhaps the occasional successional sowing of lettuce and salads. But the canny gardener knows that many of the Oriental vegetables come into their own after midsummer, and can be sown then to provide late summer, autumn and even winter harvests without the risk of them flowering and setting seed too soon.
Whilst the threat of frost should be well and truly past now, gardeners need to be vigilant of the other threats to their crops. Whether it’s cabbage white caterpillars on the brassicas, vine weevil in the containers, or the ever-present slugs and snails sliming their way through the seedlings, spending time in the garden with your plants is one of the best ways to nip and problems in the bud. And don’t forget to let your herbs flower, or even plant some purely ornamental flowers, to entice beneficial insects and predators into your garden.
Vegetables to sow in June
- Beetroot, whether for baby or mature roots
- Calabrese (heading broccoli)
- Carrots, for bay or mature roots
- Chicories, for winter and spring harvests
- Courgettes and summer squash (until midsummer)
- French beans
- Lettuces and other salad greens, and salad onions
- Oriental veg, e.g. pak choi, Chinese cabbage, leafy mustards (after midsummer)
- Pumpkins and winter squash (until midsummer)
- Radishes (summer)
- Sweetcorn (until midsummer)
What to harvest in June
Green garlic is one of the treats in store for you in June. This is fresh, ‘wet’ garlic, pulled up early and eaten this way before it matures. It’s almost never available commercially, so it’s one of those gourmet treats you have to grow for yourself.
So, too, are the leafy tops of broad bean plants. It’s a good idea to pinch them out, which discourages blackfly from taking up residence. But rather than compost them, gently cook the tops like spinach – another garden treat!
June is also the season for spring onions and watercress, peas, the broad beans themselves and the first of the French beans. Rocket and radishes, maybe even gooseberries and the first strawberries, combined with the last of the asparagus and rhubarb for now.
If you sowed early, or under cover, and the weather has been kind, then you may be getting the first harvests of all kinds of vegetables, including courgettes. But if yours are taking a little longer, don’t be frustrated. They’ll be worth waiting for!
Get ready for dry weather
If you haven’t done so already, prepare your garden for the possibility of dry weather ahead. A water butt is an essential garden feature, and if you have the space (and the downpipes!) then it does pay to fit more than one and store as much water as possible. You can also store water in the soil, by planting cover crops on bare soil, and mulching around crop plants. And you can encourage plants to grow deep roots by watering properly. Once plants are established, water them deeply less often, rather than little and often, and they’ll send out deep roots looking for water that will serve them well in dry weather. Fit saucers and trays under containers, so that they catch and store water that runs off.