June marks not just the middle of the year, but also time to harvest important crops.
Tasty broad beans, new potatoes, asparagus, salads, fresh onions and herbs should now be on the way to the kitchen! Add to this gooseberries, rhubarb and the tastiest first strawberries and, if you'll forgive the pun, we are beginning to enjoy the fruits of our labours!
- First, early potatoes should be ready for lifting now! If flowers are showing and the leaves are starting to go yellow, that's a sure sign that there are big enough tubers underneath to lift. Take them straight to the kitchen, boil them with a spring of fresh mint and serve with lashings of butter!
- Maincrop and second early potatoes should never run short of moisture at this time of their development. The new tubers should be forming this month and will respond well to a thorough watering. They respond best if you water when the little tubers are the size of a hen's egg.
- Make sure that your main crop potatoes are well earthed up to avoid the tubers becoming green from exposure to light.
- Plant out pumpkins and squashes: these love well-rotted manure or good garden compost.
Fruit trees and bushes
- Mulch strawberry fruits as they develop. Straw is useful if you can get it. Remove unwanted new runners or 'lay' some of them into the rows to root to form a continuous row.
- Net soft fruit canes and bushes to protect from birds.
- Some apple trees may be showing early signs of powdery mildew. Prune out these first 'primary infection' shoots as they have carried infection over the winter and will infect new shoots.
- Spray your apples with Sprayday Greenfly Killer to stop codling moth grubs boring into your fruit. Pheromone traps, now widely available, give good non-pesticide control but need to be installed early enough to get control.
- Make sure newly planted fruit canes and bushes are always well watered.
- Earliest gooseberries should be ready now. If you leave some fruits to ripen, they will grow larger and taste sweeter.
- Stop harvesting forced rhubarb crowns now to give them time to recover. Those you haven't forced should produce a harvest for another 4-6 weeks.
- If greenhouses are getting too hot, paint 'Coolglass' on the outside to reflect the heat of the sun. This is easily wiped off in autumn. Wetting the floor regularly will also lower the temperature, but don't do it late in the day!
- Ventilate your greenhouse regularly. If it is still too hot inside, keep the doors open.
- Regularly remove side shoots from tomato plants - unless you have a bush variety- and gradually increase watering and ventilation as they grow bigger and the days get warmer. Support plants well and gradually remove the lower leaves as they turn brown.
Food from containers
- Avoid planting mint in with these as it can quickly takeover. Grow on its own.
- Plant outdoor tomatoes, ridge cucumbers, courgettes and marrows. These can all be easily grown in large pots or grow bags on the patio.