This column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.
June is a fabulous month to be gardening in the Northwest. The soils have warmed up adequately and the air temp is very pleasant. There’s lots of daylight, so we can get out after work and still get plenty done. There is no shortage of plants to be found at your local garden center and with three to four months of good growing weather ahead of us, I think it is safe to say that June could easily be the most productive month of the year. Here are some things to focus on…
VEGGIES: It’s time for warm season crops like corn, beans, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers to be planted. It feels like most of us have already done this due to the early warm weather, but if you haven’t it’s not too late. Since harvesting a crop removes nutrients from the soil, it is imperative to replace both the organic content and nutrients by annually adding compost and fertilizer to our garden beds. It’s best to do this before we plant, but if that didn’t happen then apply these goodies in and around your new transplants as soon as possible - it will make a huge difference! For best results, make a second application of fertilizer in six weeks.
LAWNS: Normally, June is a safe month to plant grass so if it stays cool then do all the things you intended to do back in the spring. If it stays in the 80’s then hold off. Regardless of the temperature, you should get ahead of weeds in the lawn this month.
ROSES: The roses have started to bloom and once the first flush is over it is important to prune them back and fertilize again. In my opinion, growing hybrid tea roses requires the timely application of some chemicals, either natural or synthetic, to control bugs and diseases. It’s a small price to pay for the enjoyment roses provide us.
PERENNIALS: I love perennials because they create a constantly changing look in the garden. Remember though that most perennials only bloom for five to six weeks, so it is imperative that you combine early, mid and late bloomers to provide continuous non-stop color and interest. Hopefully you bought some back in March, April and May. June is the beginning of the summer bloomers so buy a few now and a few more next month and you will have a nice succession of color in your border.
ANNUALS: Did you save room for the June stuff? Even if you have planted all of your summer color, you will be surprised with how many more choices there are in the garden center in June. Heat lovers like lantana, zinnias, cannas and dahlias are now in good supply. Remember that annuals are heavy feeders and to get the most out of them you should be feeding on a regular basis (think Sea Grow). The more you feed, the bigger and more colorful they will be.
WEED CONTROL: This should be easy. Clean up the weeds with my favorite tool, the Hula Hoe, then cover the soil with a one inch layer of compost. Your beds will look tidy, and what few weeds come up will be very easy to remove and the plants will be fed for the growing season.
PRUNING: By now most of you know my tag line: “There is always something to prune in the garden.” Trim the hedges, deadhead the rhodies, clean up the spring bloomers and then analyze the rest of the garden to see what needs editing. You can do “light” pruning any time of the year.
Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville, WA, and can be reached at email@example.com.
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