June is a magical time for gardeners. All risk of frost has passed now, which gives us an exciting opportunity to grow a wide range of tasty vegetables from seed. Unless you have a balcony or patio garden, there’s no need to bother with pots and compost. Seize the moment and sow seeds directly in the ground where you want you want your plants to grow. Find a bright and sunny area and direct sow courgette, pumpkin, squash, cucumber, kohlrabi, peas, French beans, and runner bean seeds. For a container garden choose varieties that grow well in planters, like ‘Hestia’ dwarf runner beans, ‘Ferrari’ dwarf French beans, and ‘Mini Muncher’ and Pea ‘Half Pint’.
Are you growing tomatoes? Cordon tomato varieties (also known as indeterminate tomatoes) are trained to grow as one main stem. It is important to regularly remove the side shoots that form in between the main stem and the leaf axils to focus the cordon tomato plants’ energy into producing tomatoes and allow sunlight in to ripen the fruit. Removing side shoots is a lovely job that needs to be done regularly. I relish the uplifting aroma as the scent of the tomato leaves fills the air. Another welcome bonus is tomato side shoots make perfect cuttings and can be used to make new tomato plants! I pop my tomato side shoots into a vase of water to root and then pot up the plants or plant them outside in a couple of weeks’ time.
With the right supports cordon tomato plants can grow up to 12ft tall! It’s important to support cordon tomato plants to avoid the plants collapsing or their stems snapping and allow the maximum amount of sunlight to reach the fruit. To support my plants, I use a simple homemade, wooden frame. The frame stands above my plants and long lengths of twine are secured to the top of the frame. I allocate one length of twine to every tomato plant; I take a piece of twine and gently loop the twine underneath the lowest leaves and around the plant’s main stem near ground level. Then with these supports in place, I simply twist the twine around the main stem of the tomato plant to support the plant as it grows.
I find this to be the easiest, fastest, and most effective way to support my tomato plants. It avoids the need to search for twine or scissors, and there’s no fiddly tying in involved, it saves so much time! However, you do need very strong twine for this method to work successfully. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had good results with Henry Winning’s Natural 302 Flax Garden Twine (check out my Twine Trial for other strong, lasting twines). An alternative is to use bamboo canes, or wooden poles to support the plants.
Don’t be tempted to trim, cut, or interfere with the growing tip at the top of your tomato plants or you’ll stop your plants growing taller and prevent any new tomato trusses forming. If you’ve accidentally snapped off the top of your tomato plants, don’t worry all is not lost, just allow a side shoot to develop (ideally choose a side shoot that’s low down on the plant, to give your new plant the maximum height to produce tomato trusses) and grow on to produce new tomatoes.
Are your mint plants looking a bit scrappy? If you give your plants a serious haircut now, cutting the stems back to just above ground level they will produce lots of new stems and lovely fresh new leaves. Water your plants immediately after pruning.
Pick sweet peas regularly to keep flower production going and encourage your plants to produce a larger harvest of flowers.
Who knows what the crazy Great British weather has in store for us this summer. Please remember that roses won’t flower well if they are suffering because their roots can’t find sufficient water due to drought, so give each rose bush one or two full watering cans of water and follow up by adding a mulch of homemade garden compost or bark chips over the soil around your plants. When watering your garden plants, aim to wet the soil around your plants’ stems and try to avoid soaking your plants’ leaves.
Do you have a water butt in your garden – if not consider setting one up to collect rainwater from your roof. I must hastily follow this suggestion up with a reminder to never water seeds or seedlings with rainwater. Always use tap water for seedlings, as water butts often contain fungi and pathogens that can cause damping off and kill seedlings. Garden plants and container plants thrive when watered with rainwater and rainwater is a wonderful resource for topping up garden ponds.
Many people give their houseplants a summer holiday outside in the garden now and bring the plants back indoors at the end of August. For some plants this can work very well but for many other indoor plants, like Clivias, this outdoor adventure can result in scorched leaves. If you’re moving houseplants outside, take care not to place plants in the sunniest area of your garden.
Have you thought about entering your homegrown vegetables, fruit, flowers, or home baking in a local flower show? Summer Flower shows have categories for edibles and flowers, and classes to suit all ages. Usually, entrants have to let their Gardening Club’s Show Secretary know what classes they hope to enter a couple of weeks before the show date – so if you’re considering entering act now!
A visit to a Flower Show is a quintessential summer afternoon outing. Visit the Surrey Horticultural Federation’s website to discover Surrey’s Gardening Clubs and find flower shows, meetings, talks, and events in the Surrey area.
Don’t miss my Calendar of Specialist Plant Fairs – here’s a link!
Here’s a link to my Calendar of Rose Garden Openings & Rose themed Events.
Discover my advice for growing a wide range of houseplants, orchids, fruit, vegetables, herbs, annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, and flowers – discover my plant pages, here.