In the Garden: June
Last updated 6/17/2020 at 1:08pm
With the COVID lockdown, most of us should have had plenty of time to spend in our gardens. I mean, there was nothing else to do and nowhere to go, right? If, for some reason, you haven't put your gardening tasks as a top priority, don't despair. You still have time to get things in and have a wonderful fall harvest.
June is one of the slower months in the garden when it comes to planting and other chores. I mainly make sure everything is well watered, protected from the hail, and bug free. Let's talk about what you can still get planted now and also talk about a few things that you can get started indoors and plant in about six to eight weeks (around Aug. 1 for most of us).
Everybody loves tomatoes and you can still get some in. Hurry on this one! Most nurseries will still have a few tomato plants hanging around, but they won't last much longer (don't try to plant tomatoes by seed this time of year). This late in the year you want to be thinking about smaller, quicker maturing varieties. Try some type of cherry tomato (varieties to look for include Sun Sugar and Sweet 100). They are relatively fast growers and should still give you a good harvest in September and early October.
You can also try some of the tomatoes that produce small to medium-sized fruit (think varieties like Early Girl, possibly Celebrity, or many of the Roma tomatoes). Try to find tomatoes that grow on determinate vines, (or "bush" tomatoes, are varieties that grow to a compact height. Generally three to four feet, determinates stop growing when fruit sets on the top bud. Indeterminates will grow and produce fruit until killed by frost. They can reach heights of up to 12 feet, although six feet is normal), as these will spend less time growing vines and more time growing fruit. The six weeks you have lost in growing time means you won't have a huge harvest this year, but if you get them in soon you should still have plenty for fresh eating!
Zucchini and yellow crooked neck squash are actually quite fast-growing. Look for varieties that have a maturity date of around 60-70 days and you should still have lots of time to grow more zucchini than you can eat! You could also look for a pattypan squash with a short maturity date.
Most bush type green beans have a maturity date of around 60-70 days, so there is plenty of summer left for beans. You can plant bush green beans until mid-July and still have a great harvest!
If you would still like to plant a melon you have a little bit of time left. But choose the small "icebox" types as those take much less time to mature. You can also get cantaloupe planted now. Again don't expect a huge harvest this year, but you will still have a few melons that will be ready before the frost comes.
If you can still find the seed at your local nurseries, there is time to grow a nice crop of potatoes. In fact, you could continue to plant potatoes until mid-July in most areas of the country and still get a nice harvest of small roasting potatoes. This time of the year I would stay away from the big "baking" potatoes, like russets, as you are running short of time to get them to maturity. Potatoes take up a lot of room in the garden, so I plant mine in half whiskey barrels. You can "make" your own starts by getting some organically-grown potatoes and putting them in a brown paper bag in a warm, dry place. Check them every week until you see sprouts from the eyes. Then cut so you have at least two eyes in each piece and plant deeply in the soil in your barrel.
Cucumbers are a good late-season planter to be included in a June planting guide. Again you may not get the huge yields you are used to but by planting seeds now you can still have a fairly respectable crop.
Onions are another crop that it will be hard to find starts at the nurseries. If you find some, you can still plant them. You won't get a lot of large onions, but you will have plenty of smaller onions and green onions. Don't try growing onions from seed or starts this late in the year.
Many herbs will still do well if planted this time of year. But it would be best if you could find starts, instead of trying to plant seeds.
Cool Weather Crops
You can still have an awesome harvest of cool weather veggies by planning now to get them planted in late summer and early fall. Nearly anything you would normally plant in the springtime you can also plant in the fall. Start these indoors and they can go out in mid-August.
Broccoli, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi. If you grow your own seedlings mid-June is a good time to start a fall crop of all these yummy cool-season veggies. If you plant any of the Cole crops indoors now, they will be ready for planting out in the garden in about six to eight weeks. That means you will be planting them around mid-August and they will mature in October when the weather has cooled back to those temperatures that Cole crops love so much! You may find many of these veggies are even tastier in the fall because a night or two of frost helps to sweeten the flavor. Follow my directions in an earlier article about how to grow indoors.
You can start replanting lettuce about six to eight weeks before your first frost (for us that's Aug. 1–15). Fall planted lettuce can last unprotected in your garden until early December depending on where you live. Again you will be planting these INDOORS in your seed starter in June and moving them outside in August. I like to plant lettuce in Hanging baskets on my porch. That way, I can limit the amount of sun, but also, I can bring them inside if we have a sudden hailstorm or unexpected frost.
You can also consider some Summer Crisp Lettuce. These lettuces are more heat tolerant and can be planted directly in the soil in June for harvest in August and September.
This one may seem strange for a June planting guide. Most people see spinach as a spring only crop, but it does very well in the fall! Again look at planting about six weeks before your first frost and you will be able to start harvesting in late October. Then cover those plants with a cold frame or hoop house and they will overwinter for an extra early spring crop.
Carrots, turnips, beets, and parsnips all do well in the fall and you can start replanting them around 6 weeks before your last frost. A June planting of these root crops will need some extra care to get germinated (think extra water) but will do well once established. The taste of these summer grown root crops won't be a good as their spring or fall counterparts, but they should still give you a good harvest.
That's it for this month! Spend time in your gardens and enjoy them!
Until next month,
Valere! (Be Well!)
Editor's note: Have questions for the herbalist? Email them to: [email protected]