What to Do in the Garden This Week - June 11th

Published on June 11th 2020
A close up of a hand picking apples from a tree
An almost frost-free spring has lead to promising fruit crops, so I have a few tips on getting the best out of them. I'm also recommending some dead heading, checking for root suckers and having a go at rooting softwood cuttings. There's lots to do in the garden at this time of the year!
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Focus on fruit

  • If trained as fan or cordon shapes, new shoots can be pinched back to encourage more branching. Tie and support new shoots to fill in gaps but avoid crowding. For conventional trees, it's best to use a saw to cut a few big branches out to let light and air into the centre.
  • Don’t be too eager to thin out apples and pears if crops look heavy. It's best to thin out after the natural thinning process (‘June Drop’) has finished. There's no point in removing fruits that are about to drop off anyway!
An group of pears hanging from a tree
  • Make sure that newly planted fruit canes and bushes are really well watered. It's not too late to add a mulch to trap in that moisture.
  • Earliest gooseberries will be ready now. Thin them out to leave some fruits to ripen, as they will grow larger and taste sweeter.
  • Check gooseberries for sawfly caterpillars. Pick them off immediately as they have a voracious appetite and will strip the leaves in just a few days!
  • Fresh fig shoots will benefit from being pinched back to about 4-6”. If trained against a wall, tie in the best shoots to fill any gaps.
A pile of strawberry fruit
  • Mulch strawberry fruits as they develop. Straw is good if you can get it. Remove unwanted new runners or ‘lay’ some of them into the rows to root to form a continuous row. NB. It's best to buy new, disease-free runners every third year.
  • Protect soft fruit from bird damage.
  • Prune out the first ‘primary infection’ powdery mildew shoots on apple trees. This over-wintering infection can easily spread to the rest of the tree.
codling moth maggots in apples
  • You can spray your apples with 'Sprayday' Greenfly Killer or similar 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.
  • Stop harvesting forced rhubarb crowns and give them time to recover. Unforced ones can still be harvested for a few weeks yet.
Rhubarb forcing pots and rhubarb plants
  • Check blackcurrants for big bud mite damage (swollen buds). There is no control, and the mites may have infected your plants with reversion virus, so destroy the plants and replant. Tip: infected plants will have no fruit on them.
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Greenhouses plants

  • If pests appear, consider using natural predators before you automatically reach for the sprayer. They are especially effective if you introduce them early, and you can buy them online.
softwood cuttings of plants
  • An extensive range of softwood cuttings can be rooted now. You can do it without a propagator - but it' will be easier with one. Cover with thin polythene or horticultural fleece - aka "floating mulch". Difficult to root varieties could be propagated by layering a half-cut through shoot into a pot of compost.
pansy flowers in pots
  • Sow winter flowering pansies, but keep them cool as this improves germination.
  • Make sure that you have a plan in place for watering if you are going away for a few days.
  • Prune grapevines regularly. Cut shoots back to leave just two leaves beyond the flowers and immature grape cluster. Cut subsequent side-shoots back to just two leaves also.

Ornamental plants

Euphorbia flowers
  • Cut flower stems off of Euphorbia as they become straw coloured. Take care to cover your skin against the sap of this plant as it can cause irritation. Leave non-flowering shoots as they will bloom next year.
suckers growing from a tree
  • Check grafted plants for suckers growing from the rootstock. If left, they rapidly outgrow the top of the plant. Check roses, fruit trees, Viburnum, lilacs, maples and most ornamental trees. Remove suckers as close to the roots as possible so that there is no stump left. More suckers can grow from stumps.
  • Make certain that newly planted trees and shrubs are getting enough water and that it's reaching the roots! Trees need a minimum of two gallons a week.
Dead heading Rhododendron flowers
  • Snap off dead flowers from rhododendrons and azaleas. This will tidy them up and improve their shape. Trim long Camellia shoots to encourage branching. All these must be watered and fed well now as next year’s buds are already forming!
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