June GARDENING JOBS
In the borders, the June cutback is upon us. Early-flowering geraniums and their fellows that have already bloomed can be cut back hard. This will open up a temporary gap, but it will be filled with new foliage to keep the garden looking fresh.
If you haven’t done so already, stake tall plants and continue to tie in climbers, such as clematis and sweet pea. In my experience many will stall if they don’t have anywhere to climb.
Shrubs that bloom in the first part of the growing season do so because they flower on last year’s wood. Keep them in good shape and looking youthful by removing whole limbs back to a new fresh growth.
It is much easier to water a hanging basket that has been consistently watered, so water every day when the weather is warm: once they dry out you need to dip them in a sink or basin overnight until they are rehydrated.
Magnolias need only ever be pruned if they are outgrowing their space: it is always better to allow them to find their own shape. But if you must, do it now. A winter prune can lead to dieback and in spring magnolias can bleed.
To make more rosemary, lavender or sage plants, take cuttings of fresh growth. Strip lower leaves and insert several around the edge of a terracotta pot of gritty compost. Cover with a plastic bag, water, and set out of direct sun.
Bay tree trim
This is a good moment to reshape a topiary bay tree, using secateurs so that you don’t hack all the leaves in half. Overgrown bay trees can also be hard pruned now, but take out about a third to half of the growth each year over two or three years.
How sturdy are your tomato supports? It’s not too late to push a good sturdy stake into the ground next to each.
Feed for thought
Liquid feed all summer long is the key to the happiest and most floriferous gardens. Maxicrop’s seaweed extract-based fertilisers is ideal.
Vegetable & Fruit
Early June is a good time to sow runner and climbing French beans. Coming from South America, they like the ground to be warm. The three-sisters method of growing sweetcorn as support for climbing beans, and gourds or courgettes as ground cover among them, puts together plants that like the same conditions.
Plant outdoor tomatoes in your sunniest spot. Growbags are great for those of us with just a balcony or a small terrace. Sow leafy vegetables in succession, half a row at a time rather than a whole, at fortnightly intervals. Pinch out broad bean tops to prevent them from getting blackfly once they come into flower. Eat the most succulent parts. Steam, then add salt and butter.
If you have it available, tuck the strawberries in with a quilt of straw placed carefully under the trusses before they ripen. It will save the fruit from being splashed by dirt. Net the bed before the birds get to the fruit.
Keep sowing short rows of quick-growing salad crops such as spring onions, radishes and lettuces (the latter in shade if you can, or they will bolt – sow in the evening if the weather is hot), for a constant supply of crunchy salads.
This is perhaps your last chance to sow sweet and tasty main crop peas. Sow direct, and thickly - one for the birds, one for the slugs, and one for yourself.
Draw the long evenings out it is worth thinking of getting some outdoor furniture or sprucing up the area and adding some scented plants in the area.
Roses are in bloom, but they always look better with underplanting to disguise their lower, less interesting bits and complement the flowers. Consider hardy geraniums, salvias and alliums to waft around and through them.