What to do in June

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June. Long, light, warmer days means your crops will grow fast this month. Go away for the weekend and you may notice your tomatoes and beans are an inch or two taller on your return. 

It’s also a busy month. There’s watering, feeding and caring for your fast growing crops. And if you want to keep up a supply of salads, leaves, peas, and beans for late summer and autumn, you’ll need to keep sowing. Dedicating a small space or shelf as your ‘seedling nursery’ is one way to ensure you always have a supply of seedlings when needed.

This month

  1. What to sow now
  2. Other jobs for June: feeding, pinching out, harvesting!

What to sow now

There’s a lot you can sow in June – and if you want to avoid gaps in pots later in the season (as crops finish), you can get ahead of the game by sowing some in trays or small pots now. Crops you can sow this month include:

Salads

Keep sowing rocket, lettuces, and other salads to maintain your salad supply over the summer. Salads can bolt or get tough in hot weather. Have some seedlings ready, and you can quickly replace them. As well as lettuce, good summer salads include purslane, texel greens, nasturtiums, pea and bean shoots.

Salads like these are great in containers... but they can sometimes go a bit tough or start to bolt in the warmth and longer days of summer. Keep sowing seed so that you can replace them if this happens.

Salads like these are great in containers… but they can sometimes go a bit tough or start to bolt in the warmth and longer days of summer. Keep sowing seed so that you can replace them if this happens.

Oriental greens

Best sown after the midsummer solstice (21 June), as they will be less prone to prematurely flower and go to seed (“bolting”). There are so many varieties including pak choi, mizuna, mibuna, chinese cabbage, red giant and chinese broccoli. All make excellent container crops and can either be eaten in salads or cooked in stir fries or steamed like spinach.

As growth speeds up in warmer weather, you'll start being able to harvest more to eat. At the beginning of the month you'll probably be getting lots of leafy greens, with peas, broad beans and potatoes following later in the month (depending on the year and where you live).

As growth speeds up in warmer weather, you’ll start being able to harvest more to eat. At the beginning of the month you’ll probably be getting lots of leafy greens, with peas, broad beans and potatoes following later in the month (depending on the year and where you live).

Peas and beans

Most types of peas and beans can be sown now to give you a fresh supply in the late sumer and autumn. French and runner beans are particularly rewarding and productive choices for containers.

Carrots, spring onions, beetroot, turnips

Can all be sown this month. I don’t grow too many root crops – simply because you can only harvest them once (unlike salads, beans and tomatoes that can be harvested for several weeks even months). Radishes are a useful catch crop (a catch crop is something you grow in an empty pot while waiting for it to be filled with something else), maturing in just three or four weeks. And spring onions are a nice crop to grow in between salads and other leafy veg – they take up little space and the onion smell can help deter pests.

Courgettes, squash and cucumber

Sow these before the end of the month and you should still get a good crop from them before the end of the year.

Herbs

Sow basil and green shiso now. Coriander and dill tend to bolt at this time of year – if you want a continuous supply through summer, you’ll need to keep sowing them.  Most herbs will have lots of fresh, soft growth at this time of year – which is perfect for taking cuttings. Good ones to try at this time include: lemon verbena, thyme, rosemary, sage and Vietnamese coriander.

Sage grown from a cutting. Cuttings from most herbs are easy to do and a great way of expanding your herb collection for free!

Sage grown from a cutting. Cuttings from most herbs are easy to do and a great way of expanding your herb collection for free!

 

2. Other jobs

Move tender plants to final pots

Once all risk of frost is passed in your area, tender plants (those that are damaged by frost) like tomatoes, chillies and aubergines can be moved to their final pots outside. Just be sure that they are well hardened off, first (for an explanation of ‘hardening off’ see April).

Pinching out and tying up

Keep pinching out the side shoots of vine tomatoes to keep them in order. (Vine tomatoes are vigorous growers, and will quickly grow into an unwieldy bushy if the side shoots are not removed).

Keeping checking that all climbing plants – like peas and beans – are securely tied in, particularly if strong winds are forecast. I nearly lost my peas last year because I’d neglected to tie my peas regularly enough.

I nearly lost these peas (top right) in a strong wind because they weren't tied up well enough. Peas in particular need constant checking and tying up if grown up poles - alternatively, they'll grip better to pea netting or pea sticks.

I nearly lost these peas (top right) in a strong wind because they weren’t tied up well enough. Peas in particular need constant checking and tying up if grown up poles – alternatively, they’ll grip better to pea netting or pea sticks.

Feed fruiting crops

Fruiting crops like tomatoes and courgettes need a lot of food once they’ve started flowering and producing fruit. Due to the limited size of containers, these crops will struggle to get all they require – so you’ll need to feed them if you want to get the most out of them. You’ll need a liquid fertiliser that is high in potassium (K). The easiest way to do this is to buy a liquid tomato feed. Alternatively, if you have supply of comfrey leaves, you can make comfrey tea by soaking these in a bucket of water. It’s smelly but effective.

NB ‘Tomato’ feed is good for all fruiting vegetables not just tomatoes. Use it as described on the side of the bottle (usually once a week) for most veg like aubergines and courgettes – but  less frequently for runner beans and French beans and less frequently still for peas.

Tomatos and other fruiting veg need a top of potassium to fruit to their full potential. The easiest way to supply this in containers is to buy a liquid tomato feed. Remember that you can overfeed as well as underfeed - so follow the guidelines on the bottle and observe the results.

Tomatos and other fruiting veg need a top of potassium to fruit to their full potential. The easiest way to supply this in containers is to buy a liquid tomato feed. Remember that you can overfeed as well as underfeed – so follow the guidelines on the bottle and observe the results.

Keep picking!

Remember that most crops grow better if picked regularly. Pick beans and courgettes as early as you can to encourage the plant to produce more. Pick the outer leaves of salad crops, and the plant will usually grow more. And pinch out the tops of herbs to encourage the plant to grow bushy rather than lanky.

 

 

17 comments… add one

  • can you eat the leaves of purple spourting broccli

    Reply
  • If you stick with COMFREY, then you’ll find it hard to over fert.

    Reply
  • Great post! Im a huge fan of growing salad plants in containers, but I use a fairly simple successive planting method to get me there. Check it out on my blog! http://bit.ly/SSHdYv

    Reply
  • Really neat that you have a sage plant forms cutting. I didn’t know it was possible with woody stemmed plants. How did you do it? In water?

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    • I just did it in multipurpose compost, Kartrina, using fresh, soft growth from this year (rather than the woody growth). It would also be possible to do them in water.

      Reply
      • Thanks. I shall try this too.

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  • Hi
    I started having a small veg patch last year, with a few things to see how they did. My garden although larger than a patio or balcony is still a very small town garden surrounded by an ivy covered brick wall which… is home to the snails! But this year I am very excited and have got yellow courgettes, purple mange tout, tomatoes, french yellow beans, runner beans, salad leaves, garlic, spinach, a pot with peppers, basil sprouting….have I missed anything, all in planters or recycled containers. I also made my own water butt and a compost bin (this needs a re think though), oh yes calendula which I thought wasn’t going to flower but has and nasturtiums…….I’m now thinking what to plant when the peas and beans have gone. I enjoy your tips and they have been really helpful….wonder if I can get an allotment.
    Jenny

    Reply
    • Sounds amazing Jenny, congratulations! Love the sound of your home made water butt, too – what did you make that out of?

      Reply
      • A redundant old plastic dustbin that was lounging in the shed…..

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  • Hi again!
    Your photos look good! Especially your peas, they are a lot bigger than mine. Maybe I was a bit late. Or I blame it on the wind. As you told me, covering the salads really makes a difference but I haven’t yet thought of a good solution to protect higher-growing plants from the wind. As usual, I have some questions. I thought you didn’t need fertilizer for peas and beans because they filter their own food out of the air, but I guess that’s only true for nitrogen?
    Thank you for the advice about feeding the fruiting plants, I guess that can really make the difference between a harvest like last year’s and something more satisfying. Do you think worm compost could provide the potassium needed or should I really buy this stuff? (Yes, my wormery is doing quite well! 😉 I was a little worried a while ago because they didn’t really touch their food. It turned out that the newspaper I used to cover the stuff wasn’t enough to make the surface dark -I’d drilled some holes into the lid- but now I’m using a thick old pizza carton and suddenly the come and eat!)

    Reply
    • Hi Sarah
      Nice to read your update.
      You’re spot on, when grown in pots, peas and beans do need feeding in order to get a good yield from them. Not as much as say tomatoes or courgettes but they still benefit from some. Your worm compost will probably provide some of their potassium needs – and you could add it as a mulch (ie a layer on top). However, if your worm compost is also rich in nitrogen, and you add too much, you might end up getting a lot of leafy growth at the expense of peas and beans! To increase the potassium content of your worm compost you could try and add lots of stuff that contains potassium – banana skins, for example, are a great source. Also comfrey leaves if you can find them (worms love them too – but add in moderation at first). The easiest way to add potassium to your crops is using a liquid tomato feed – although its called tomato feed you can use it on all fruiting crops. Or if you can find a source of comfrey (I used to get mine from the marshes in Tottenham) you can make comfrey tea which is very smelly but rich in nutrients, particularly potassium.
      I have the same issue re: wind and taller plants… I haven’t found a solution yet – but tying them in really well to strong stakes definitely helps. What a windy year its been so far. But a few sunny days predicted, hurrah!
      Mark

      Reply
  • Where do you get shiso from? I tried it in Japan and I would like to grow it but I haven’t found it here.
    I would add for anyone using a mini greenhouse to start opening it up for some of the day to allow air circulation and pollination, and not to bother trying to start beans off in it as they go mouldy before they have a chance to germinate! (at least that is my recent experience)

    Reply
  • Enjoy your column and Facebook posts. My climate is very different from yours. I live in the mid-south region of the US, in Tennessee. Our temps are in the 90s here now. But I still enjoy what you post and consider your tips. Anyway, just a note.

    Reply
    • Very nice to hear from you Caroline. It sounds lovely and warm in Tennessee right now. Envious. Chillies and eggplants etc do very well for you, I guess? Such crops grow OK in the south of the UK but are borderline here in the north.

      Reply

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