This month, the Summer Solstice officially marks the start of summer, and gardeners finally begin to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Flower borders filled with color and open plots brimming with swelling veg, June is truly a glorious month.
But if we want our gardens to continue to shine this season, now’s not the time to kickback. So, here are 10 gardening jobs you can be doing right now to keep your green spaces looking their best.
1. June gap
Now spring flowers will have come and gone, leaving gaps in your borders. So, if you’re in need of a splash of color then dahlias might be the answer. There’s no end to the choice of colour, shape and size available. Easy to grow, they will continue to flower right up to the first frost. However, if you want a bloom that truly captures the season, then nothing says ‘summer’ better than a vibrant sunflower. They can be sown directly into the soil, where they will quickly germinate and grow.
2. Summer bedding
Any remaining summer bedding plants should now be hardened off and planted out. If you don’t have the space in your flower beds, think about using containers, pots or hanging baskets. Ensure containers do not dry out by establishing a regular watering and feeding regime.
This is the perfect month to take softwood cuttings from lavender, forsythia and fuchsia. Take 10cm cuttings from the tips of your chosen shrub, making a sharp horizontal cut just below a pair of leaves, and remove any lower set of leaves or buds.
Fill a small pot with gritted compost, and push the cuttings in, parallel to the side of the pot. Space cuttings equally, water and place in a greenhouse or warm windowsill.
If you’re lavender is flowering, then take cuttings and bring indoors. Simply bunch together, tie and suspend somewhere where you can enjoy its fragrance. Or, consider drying it out to create lavender sachets for your drawers and pillows.
4. June drop
Trees holding heavy crops of fruit will drop a certain amount of spoils in June. For the remaining fruit it means more direct sunlight, improved air circulation, reduction in the spread of pests and prevents heavy branches from snapping. All this allows the fruit, such as apples and pears, to develop successfully. So, if you come across scattered fruit below your tree, fear not, it’s Mother Nature’s way of lending a helping hand.
Whether you’re growing cordon or bush varieties, your plants will be taking on a lot of growth and producing trusses. Pinch out side-shoots, and ensure your plants are secure, and cordon tomatoes are tied in. With flowers on the plant, this is the time to start giving your tomatoes a weekly potash feed to encourage the fruit to swell. This also applies to peppers, eggplant, and chilli plants.
Plants will be putting on a lot of growth, so ensure they’re staked and securely tied in. Flowers such as roses, may need feeding. Establish a regular watering regime and keep an eye on weather reports. Longer dry spells may mean extra watering, especially for container-based plants. Irregular watering may cause certain plants to bolt, or dry out and die.
With warmer days and brighter evenings, the garden centerpiece this time of year will be your lawn. To keep it looking good, mow at least once a week and trim the edges. You may want to consider raising your lawnmower blades to reduce the stress on your grass. Try to water the area either first thing in the morning, or later in the evening when temperatures aren’t so high and there’s less water evaporation.
Pests and diseases will be at their worst, so keep a lookout. If you’ve been growing lilies, check foliage for the dreaded lily beetle, and if found remove and dispose accordingly. Red mite may start appearing in greenhouses, so it’s a good idea to dampen down the paths each day to deter them, and keep doors and windows open for plenty of ventilation.
Summer encourages breeding and growth, which can be a problem for ponds. Blanket weed should be removed to help both fish and plants breathe. Leave any removed foliage at the side of the pond overnight. This will give any caught animals and insects a chance to return to the water.
10. Autumn planting
It’s hard to fathom, but in a few months, autumn will be here, so consider sowing some of those autumn plants, such as pansies and polyanthus. Simply sow seeds onto a tray of fine compost, water and cover lightly. Then place in your greenhouse. Check tray regularly to ensure germination has occurred, and don’t let seedlings dry-out.