Update for June, 2017: As I type this in the last few days of May, the sun is shining, the sky is clear and blue, and there has been a solid week of heat out there. What a change from the beginning of May, huh? Of course, by the time you read this, it’s supposed to go back to overcast and kinda drizzly. So maybe not that much of a change.
My gut feeling – which honestly I can’t back up with anything, so caveat emptor – is that our summer will be fairly warm. I don’t think it’ll be one of those summers like – what was it, 2011 I think? – when overnight lows never got out of the 50s?
Oh, God, I just remembered: that was the year I tried making mock apple pie out of all my green tomatoes. I still nearly retch thinking about it. ::shudder:: So gross!
A reader asked me what she should do to compensate for the slow, wet spring and the very delayed harvest on crops like peas.
If your spring crops are not up and growing now, hard – visibly bigger every day – it’s probably too late to count on a good harvest before the days get hot. If your peas are like 2 inches tall, honestly, I’d probably swap them out for direct-seeded bush beans. On the other hand – if I’m wrong and we get another summer-that-isn’t, your delayed spring crops might be fine, even in late July.
What’s the solution? Toss a coin in the air. Do a solar energy dance. Pick a number. Commune with your tomato seedlings. Rock-paper-scissors. Time machine jump 90 days into the future, then come back here and tell us all what the next 3 months have in store!
Personally, I’m all in on summer crops. I have cabbage and broccoli and kale, obviously, but the vast bulk of my garden is planted in tomatoes, corn, cukes, beans, peppers and squash. This is partially because I didn’t actually start gardening for real this year until mid-April, but also because I’m gambling that summer will deliver the heat units.
By the end of June, I think there will be a lot more to harvest than there is now. I see flower blossoms on my tomatoes, a rosy blush on my cherries, strong leaf growth on my broccoli, and beans that seem to be outgrowing early slug damage. It’s not going to be what it could have been had spring cooperated, but I do think we’ll get there eventually.
Besides, isn’t this why we garden, friends? So that we can dance with Mother Nature and twist and tease and turn and tickle our way to homegrown bounty?
If we wanted easy, reliable, uniform and boring, we’d stick to the supermarket, right?
Printable At-A-Glance Grow-Guide!
If you like your Gardening To Lists simple and direct, you’re in luck! Just click the image below to download the June At-A-Glance Grow Guide as a printable PDF.
Or, continue reading for the full details on everything you should be doing in your garden this month.
Plan and Purchase
It’s time to plan the fall and overwintering garden. I know, weird, right? It gets me every year. “Brussels Sprouts? I have to think about Thanksgiving veg now?!” Yup, you do. If you are into the year-round harvest thing, now is when you get your game plan together and start planting for things as far away as next May’s overwintering cauliflower.
Remember: we grow in summer to harvest in fall and winter. If you are new to the year-round gardener thing, you might want to read How To Make Succession Planting and Year-Round Gardening Really Work.
Mid June is about when I start my first wave of fall and winter crops. Brussels sprouts take forever to grow, so I start them early. Fall and winter cauliflower, winter cabbage and broccoli and kohlrabi (the big winter-keeper types) should all be started somewhere between mid-June and mid-July, depending on your particular climate and when you hope to harvest.
At this time of year, if you have a greenhouse or sunny porch, start the fall crops outside, either in a nursery bed or in little pots. They will dry out quickly, though, so be diligent about watering. You can also turn the seed lights back on and start them indoors if that’s easier for you and the energy suck doesn’t bother you.
Be aware of what varieties you are planting. Spring brassicas aren’t bred to hold up in winter weather, so seek out varieties that will work for when you plan to harvest them. Typically, late-maturing cabbages take 100+ days to mature, while the tender speedy spring types are around 60-80.
Rule of thumb: vegetables that grows slower hold longer.
Sow Directly Out
It’s not too late to get any of your direct-seeded summer crops in, but don’t delay.
- Beans – Scarlet Runners are about a foot tall, the rest are just starting to stretch out.
- Summer & Winter Squash – My squashes are all in now. If you direct seed winter squash at this time of year, plant a faster maturing, smaller framed variety. Sowings of summer squash can still go in reliably. I love Cousa type summer squash.
- Melons – Plant a short season variety.
- Cucumbers – Sow directly and try trellising! Cucumbers are easy to grow vertically and you get more in an area and get much straighter cukes that way. Cukes are pretty tender but mature so quickly you could wait until the end of the month to sow and still harvest something for your trouble (but I don’t recommend the delay!)
- Root Vegetables – You will have the best results in very loose open soil and I encourage you to cover your carrot and parsnip seedlings with row cover to prevent the carrot root maggot from destroying your veggies as they do mine with embarrassing frequency. Mid-June to mid-July is a good time for your main fall/winter sowing of root crops.
- A last crop of potatoes can also be put in this month if you sow short-season varieties like Yukon Gold.
- Corn – ASAP.
- Salad Greens – warm weather lettuces, warm-weather New Zealand spinach, etc. can all be sown. Look for hot-weather adapted lettuces and salad greens. The Romaine-types are generally pretty good. Arugula and mustards bolt rapidly in warm weather and with increasing day length. Rapidly. It’s easiest with these to wait on sowing until a few weeks after the solstice.
- Swiss Chard – There’s still time to plant Swiss chard for bountiful late summer and fall harvest. If you get it in this month it’ll be big and lush by October.
- Onions – green onions and overwintering leeks can be sown. Chives and garlic chives can be started in a nursery bed for a harvest next year.
- Herbs: Chives, parsley, mints, marjoram, oregano, dill, fennel, borage and the like can all be sown out. Cilantro, fennel, dill, and of course basil can all be grown. Plant lots of basil if you haven’t already! Everyone loves pesto.
All your warm weather transplants are good to go out now. Just be sensitive to where and how you transplant out. Harden your transplants gently if they are coming from a nice cozy greenhouse.
Be particularly gentle with eggplant and peppers, giving them a warm microclimate in which to snuggle, heat sinks (like wall-o-waters or big rocks) and extra attention, particularly if night-time temps dip, which they still can at this time of year.
- Summer and winter squashes
All the good leafy stuff is ready. Stupid 2017 spring. See update above. By the end of the month I hope this typical list for June holds true.
- Legumes – Bush peas, pole peas, pea greens (can’t forget them!) and favas.
- Lettuce and other salad greens – All of them, it’s Salad-Days time.
- Brassicas –Early cabbage, kohlrabi, early broccoli, early cauliflower and romanesco.
- Roots – Radishes, baby beets and turnips.
- Potatoes – Potatoes are volunteering everywhere, do I just dig up the new baby potatoes and we eat them. Nice weed, huh?
- Strawberries – sweet and delicious!
- Cherries– my cherries are going nuts. In the best possible way.
- Herbs of all kind – I’m way behind on basil, but anything perennial or self seeding is running rampant. Bronze fennel for everybody!
What are you harvesting this month?
Well, I’m halfway through my March to-do list. And not for lack of trying!
I’m going to start some Brussels sprouts but have otherwise decided to quit planting for the year and really dial it in on protecting what is in the ground. For instance, half of my blueberry plants were mulched. The other half weren’t…and…despite being in the ground for two-plus months…. got fried over the weekend.
From here on out it’s mulch, sluggish, eat eggs, mulch, sluggo, eat eggs, repeat until October.
I envy you your cherry trees. The service berries and red currants in these parts (and the cherries, too) are still firmly on the green side, but they’re ripening a little bit more every day. My strawberries are just starting to set fruit, but my favas and bush peas aren’t even flowering yet (unless they burst into bloom in the past four hours. It could happen).
I’m still firmly in Cool Weather Greens territory up here. The rappini continues to be amazing, and the kale is getting big enough to harvest. I love the way they shade the soil and help keep the weeds from finding purchase. I’m considering growing them – at least the red russian kale, in the front yard (where the soil is contaminated, and so is very firmly a Non-Food Space) purely for that reason. My Mystery Greens appear to be mustard. Or collards. But I’m going with mustard for the moment.
I need to spread my tomatoes out a little bit, or I won’t get the benefit of that many tomato plants, I’m sure. My winter squashes aren’t germinating much, but we’ll make do. I’ve got enough seeds to throw a few more waldham butternuts in the ground, and they’re pretty reliable, so. (I do seem to have a couple of zucchinis already on the go, though, so there’s that). My beans have sprouted, but they’re taking their sweet time getting big. (I blame the chilly weather – they need some hot humid days to really get going).
Fingers crossed that my garden’s good start doesn’t fizzle.
Ien in the Kootenays says
i get it, I get it, ASAP!!! Like I am not white rabbiting enough here……the season is ahead and I am behind. As usual. I am suffering from a gardeners catch 22. I can’t plant my bedding plants out because the beds are not ready and the beds are not ready because I spend too much time in the Greenhouse fiddling with things in pots. Then I catch myself spending half an hour pulling grass from a flower bed. Madness. Need to downsize but am addicted.
Lazy Harp Seal says
I’m a total noob gardener, but I’m totally fine with planning a season ahead. I remember my mother explaining that she did her Christmas needlepoint and knitting in summer and autumn so that it would be ready *for* Christmas.
I especially like the pre-season planning because it’s basically a blank slate. Nobody is behind schedule, there’s no rush yet to get stuff in on time. And, in my mind, everything looks great. No seedlings have dampened off, nothing has gotten drought stressed, Plus, I kinda feel like fall/winter harvest crops are way less pressure. No worrying about frost or fruit-set.
On the top of my must-do’s this autumn is: Saffron Crocus. It might be annoying to harvest, but crocus are pretty fool-proof to grow…. as long as you’re a fool who gets the corms in on time.
OMG, you king of blew my mind with the talk of starting fall vegis now. You’re right of course, but…. Wow. Mind blown. Thanks for the tip. It never would have occurred to me to start seeds this soon and then I’d be buying plants from the nurseries AGAIN.
This is a good tip especially to those neew to the blogosphere.
Brief but very precise information… Appreciate your sharing this one.
A must read post!
Hah, I’m already thinking about putting the tomatoes I sowed in March for planting out in June for fall tomatoes, in the ground.
I really love seeing where everyone else is at with crops. I’ll be rolling in envy in August when y’all are getting tomatoes and we’re sweltering with okra. But now I’m just happy I’m rolling in tomatoes here. 🙂
How is it June already?! I have about 30% of my tomatoes in, but the rest are sitting around waiting on beds to put them in. Which we haven’t built yet. Yikes. Luckily we have tomato weather into November, so I might still have time. Canning will just be a fall affair again this year. Cucumbers, melons, squash, and beans will get started this week. So much to do!
Ien van Houten AKA Ien in the Kootenays says
Love reading your exploits, even though they inspire climate envy. I am so NOT in the Coastal zone. Out here in zone 5 the season caught up with itself in that sudden shift to heat. It feels like we skipped spring and went straight from mud season to summer. Everything was about a month behind but by the end of May the lilac was blooming and the wild lupins started coming out, right on normalish schedule. The perennial flower border is bursting with lush growth after all the rain. My greenhouse is a wonderful jungle of starts yearning to breathe free in soil. Tomatoes growing like mad and blooming. Some will stay in there. Bok choy, green onions, parsley and asparagus are being enjoyed. Snow peas a foot tall in greenhouse, sugar snaps in elsewhere but not up yet. Brussels sprouts are a foot tall and in their forever spot. Leeks were started in late winter and are in their spot. A square of celery started from seeds is thriving. Somehow cauliflower starts looked great this year but many broccoli were wimpy. Planted more cauliflowers
than usual, but they will be replaced with kale plants waiting in the wings at the first sign of wimpiness. It is a dreadful year for voles so I am experimenting with potatoes and beets in containers. Apart from the cold spring my ambitions have been thwarted by complications with the water system and the needs of an ageing body. Frustrating!
Despite generic family situations like a new grandbaby, Elders Who Need Care, weird weather and learning at last to pressure can— I am committed to upping my gardening game. Thank you, Erica for this prod! This needs to be the year I learn how to grow the winter-crops in my E.WA climate. My urban garden is basically postage-stamp sized but I am committed to getting the most out of it! Normally by September I am SO OVER gardening. How silly to waste the remaining growing season. Thank you for all your help!!!!
My snap peas are *just* now starting to flower and are already about 24″ tall. Maybe there is too much nitrogen in my soil? I don’t know but it ticks me that just when they might be ready to harvest the d*mned spider mites will be attacking the vines followed closely by powdery mildew. Ugh…..
After two years of trying to deal with dead soil, we really thought this was going to be OUR YEAR in the garden. Then Spring happened. Or didn’t happen. A few really hot days does not make up for weeks of cloudy, cool and wet weather. In Snoqualmie Valley, we had hail and snow in April, for crying out loud. Thanks for this list and reminding me that some crops will still (fingers crossed) produce. I guess I’ll give up on my spring brassicas and start some fall ones in a few weeks? Strawberries are thriving, so I’ll take that as a win!