“Spring being a tough act to follow,” said actor Al Bernstein, “God created June.” It’s the month for roses, cherries, and strawberries. In the vegetable garden, tomatoes are beginning to blossom, and perennials, such as lilies, have started their annual “bloom fest.” Unfortunately, there’s no time for a gardener to sit back and enjoy it all. June is the month that brings bugs out in full force and sets off the annual gardener’s battle waged against insects, disease, and wildlife. Here are some strategies for helping you win the war.
If you start early, you can thwart garden spoilers, such as cabbage maggot, potato beetle, cucumber beetle, and flea beetle, by covering plants with a floating row cover. Thin woven polyester blankets, tossed over crops and sealed around the edges with soil, keep insects out, but allow water and sunlight to pass through. The blankets also hold in warmth. Remove the blankets when viny plants start to bloom, so the flowers can be pollinated.
To protect newly transplanted melons, tomatoes, squash, and cucumber plants from cutworms, place a cardboard collar around the base of each plant. Push the collar an inch into the soil with two or three inches left above ground.
Heavy rain may bring out the slugs. Keep an eye out for them, and handpick them as soon as they show up.
Spread tree netting over blueberries and strawberries to protect from birds and deer.
Watch for black spot and powdery mildew on roses, and spray with appropriate fungicide. Remove damaged leaves so the fungus won’t grow over winter and return.
Other June Jobs in the Garden:
- To encourage root growth, water your vegetable garden thoroughly once a week.
- Prune climbing roses after blooming.
- Deadhead annuals to encourage more blooming.
- Remove foliage from flowering bulbs after it has died back.
- Continue planting gladiolus corms.
- Prune conifers, junipers, and cypress.
- Prune suckers from fruit trees.
- Put up your hammock, even though you may not have much time to use it.
Plants may need your help should pests appear. If you are trying to avoid commercial chemicals and pesticides, you may want to try this recipe for Homemade Pest Repellent.
Your vegetable garden is looking a little “wilty.” Should you water it?
The answer depends on the time of day. If it is afternoon on a hot day, not to worry. It may simply be a case of leaves growing too fast for the roots to feed them. But if vegetables look wilty in the morning, water them right away.
Although some old farmers may tell you never to water your vegetable garden, it is wise to make sure your vegetables get an inch of water every week. Use a rain gauge to determine how much precipitation they have received. Make a simple rain gauge by taking a wide-mouth canning jar, measuring an inch from the bottom, and marking the line with waterproof tape. Set the jar out in the open away from trees and buildings. For more accurate measurement, attach a ruler to the outside of the jar.
Vegetables need constant moisture when seeds or seedlings are germinating. Water a freshly planted seedbed with a soft spray daily unless you’ve had rain. Water plants that are developing less often, but water more deeply to encourage root growth. Let water percolate six inches into the soil, and then allow the soil to dry out an inch or two before watering again.
In hot, dry, or windy weather, mature plants that have developed deep roots may require thorough watering every week. But generally be careful not to overwater. Frequent, shallow watering can prevent roots from growing deep, and overwatering can drown plants by depriving them of oxygen, as well as leaching away soil nutrients.
It’s best not to water using a spray nozzle that can flatten plants, and at any rate this method is ineffective and time consuming. Set out a sprinkler. The best time to water is early morning. Avoid watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the heat of the day. Sprinkling in the evening may lead to fungal diseases, when foliage stays wet overnight.