Grow It Yourself Tips – June 2020

The weather hasn’t changed – we have been blessed with almost wall-to-wall sunshine, and now is the time to plant out your beans, courgettes, squashes, tomatoes, cucumbers and more, with confidence.

Remember to put in supports for tall growing tomatoes and climbing plants before planting out, so that you avoid disturbing or damaging roots by doing this later when they are more established.

As new shoots appear on other climbing plants such as honeysuckle and clematis, you should use soft ties to train them in the right direction. Also try to protect young fruit and vegetable plants from birds with carefully placed netting (avoiding harm to other wildlife) and start feeding established fruiting plants such as tomatoes, which benefit from a weekly dose.

You can continue sowing beetroot, radish and lettuce/salad seeds for continual crops, and for produce into Autumn you can sow more spring onions and broccoli.

June is also the last month to sow pumpkins in order to give them a nice warm start. You might be able to harvest peas and soft fruits such as gooseberries and strawberries this month. Make sure to protect strawberries from damp ground using a covering of straw, hay, shingle or bark, and from birds with netting. Strawberry runners can be ‘pegged down’ to form new plants at this time of year too.

Don’t forget that many flowering plants are edible as well – you can harvest flower heads from lavender plants for use in baking, use elderflowers for cordial or wine, and beautify salads with borage flowers. 

In June the garden can start getting very thirsty. Don’t forget that a good soak is much more beneficial than a light sprinkle, and either early morning or evening are the best times to do this. You could consider an irrigation system, and for plants such as squash and courgette which like their roots to be damp but can suffer from rot when watered top down, you can sink a 15cm pot beside the plant when planting out and water into that instead.

With all this sunshine our water butts are running dry, so consider conserving water in any way you can. When running the tap for hot water collect the cool and luke warm water in the washing up bowl and pour it into your watering can for use later. Think about where your plants are positioned and consider run-off – could free draining pots on elevated surfaces be arranged so that the excess water runs off and drips onto other thirsty plants? 

Other tips for gardening well in this hot weather include using blinds or shade paint on greenhouses to prevent them from overheating, and remembering to open vents and doors on the hotter days. You should also keep on top of weeding, making sure that your plants aren’t competing too much for water and nutrients.

We should all think about the wildlife our gardens support, and what they might need in this hot weather. Bird baths (preferably raised and out of the easy reach of cats), cool shady log piles and long grassy areas are all valuable.

As always, you can also help by doing or ‘managing’ less – resist the urge to deadhead roses as the hips provide nutrition for birds and small mammals, and leave the grass unmown for as long as you can with meadowy areas to support our pollinators.