Can you believe it is June already? The very cold and slow start to the growing season means we are playing catch-up. The veg garden should be filling up - by the end of the month there should be little or no bare ground to be seen!
June in the veg patch
June is a very important month in the growing calendar. It signals the end of the hungry gap as new season crop come into harvest, such as broad beans, peas, early carrots, radishes, over-wintered onions such as Ailsa Craig, spring onions, kohl rabi, turnips, lettuces, leaf beet, spinach and more. It is also a critical time for establishing plants. New sowings and plantings can be vulnerable to competition from weeds so hoe early and often is the best approach. If the weather is cool and windy and your garden is exposed, protect French and runner beans and courgettes/squashes from the wind which can check their growth. Keep young plants watered in dry weather until they have got their roots down and apply mulches to conserve water - provided that the soil is damp and warm when the mulch is put down.
Encourage beneficial insects in the garden by not being too tidy! Even if you are not saving your own seed, leaving vegetables to flower (e.g. brassicas) can help build up populations of ladybirds and hoverflies that will eat your aphids and other pests to prevent them becoming problems.
As the early crops are harvested new crops can replace them. Leeks, celery, fennel, lettuces, spring onions and kohl rabi make perfect relay crops - raised as plants from earlier sowings and planted out as space becomes available. If you've not been that organised don't worry - there are still crops that can be sown from seed now including beetroot, late crops of beans (fast-growing dwarf French beans are good for June sowings), cabbages, kales, swedes and turnips, leaf beet and fast-growing (early) varieties of carrots.
Mid-summer onwards is the perfect time to sow crops that thrive in the shorter days to come, such as endives, raddicchio, fennel, winter radishes and pak choi for autumn harvests. You should also order your salad greens for July and August sowings.
Fast-growing annual herbs such as parsley, dill and coriander are good for sowing now, directly in the ground.Keep them well-watered though!
Any fast-growing annual flowers can be sown now such as limnanthes, marigolds, nasturtiums, coreopsis and night-scented stocks for late colour and food for pollinators and beneficial insects.