Joan sent me an email recently that helped me frame this month’s garden tasks post. She’s a friend, longtime farm share member, and a beekeeper. In short, she’s who I want to be when I grow up!
While recently picking up her weekly share of veggies, Joan noticed a patch of wild clover (Trifolium) at one end of the edible landscaping in front of our porch. She sent an email asking about it. So, I thought that’s where we’d start this month, by looking at what is naturally occurring in your yard and taking the time to ‘accentuate the positive’ and minimize the negative with some selective cultivation.
This patch of clover arose in the area in front of our new porch just after construction was complete. As usual, the contractor had taken up all the topsoil and we were left with a hard mass of clay to landscape in a way that enhanced the porch and reflected what the entire Stony Ridge Farm enterprise is all about. While planting the more sunny portions of this area with a strawberry-rhubarb ground cover, the clover took over the shadier, neglected end of the area.
Once noticed, I liked it. The wild pollinators liked it. So I began weeding and watering it. Now, 3 years later it is a healthy patch of wild green that has a doughnut shape to it. So. I placed a planter in the middle and it is simply adorable.
When I explained this to Joan, she mentioned that she is doing the exact same thing with a patch of violets in her yard. That response inspires this blog. Too often, we can take on great and heroic projects in our yards in an effort to enhance beauty and eliminate mowing. Why not take the month of June to look for patches of wildflowers in your yard that can be cultivated with a little weeding and watering? Most of these patches will do with a good mowing sometime in July or August, but otherwise can be left to their own devices to bring simple, effortless beauty to your landscape.
June Garden Tasks for Zone 6-7:
- Make it a priority to get your irrigation systems in order (if you haven’t already) in preparation for the inevitable dry heat of July and August. You’ll save a great deal of time and water by using drip tape or irrigation hoses rather than top watering with a hand-held hose. You’ll also diminish the threat of bacterial and fungal diseases on your plants.
- If you are planting carrots for a late summer/fall harvest, you must make sure the area remains moist for the first two weeks after seeding. Carrots take quite a while to germinate and you’ll have a spotty patch if they don’t get some water each day until you see the seedling.
- Planting beets? Add boron to the soil for a more resilient plant.
- Start winter squash seeds for July planting. This will help you miss the worst of the squash bug lifecycle and time the harvest for mid-September.
- Plant melons in an area sure to get good moisture.
- Weed, weed, weed.
- Check garlic for scapes and cut them. Use scapes in sautés for garlic flavor, as a pizza topping, or fermented for winter use.
- Check onions for blossoms. Cut the blossoms off and store in a plastic bag (they will last for weeks). Then, top salads and other dishes with the onion blossom by breaking the bloom and scattering the little flowers across the plate. They have a mild onion flavor and are lovely.
- If you potatoes are blooming, you can dig around under the plant and harvest a few young potatoes for your meals. Then, gently replace the soil over that area and cover with some straw. I always do this while I am collecting ingredients for dinner so that the skins are tender and the potatoes have less starch.
- Once the strawberries have finished fruiting, weed and fertilize. We’ll thin them in the fall.
- Check your fruit trees for tent caterpillars and other bugs that might damage the harvest.
- Look for bugs, especially beetles, and their eggs. If your garden is small enough you can remove them by hand. If you have a large garden or a market garden you might be inclined to spray once a week with an organic pesticide such as Pyrethrin.
- Keep pathways well mowed so as to limit their weed impact on your garden beds.
Finally, when you have your garden looking it’s June best, plan a dinner in the garden. We keep a grill right there so that we can harvest and cook in the garden. Make it a late dinner so that you can enjoy the late sunset and the starlit night sky!
What did I forget? Fill out the task list in the comment section below!