June is a fabulous month to be gardening in the Northwest. The soils have warmed up adequately, and the air temperature is very pleasant. There’s lots of daylight, so we can get out after work and still get plenty done. And there is no shortage of plants to be found at your local garden center.
With three to four months of good growing weather ahead of us, it is safe to say that June could easily be the most productive month of the year. Here are some things to focus on this month.
Veggies: It’s time for warm-season crops like corn, beans, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers to be planted. Most of us have already done this due to the early warm weather, but if you haven’t it’s not too late. Note: 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. 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: June is normally a safe month to plant grass. If it stays cool, then do all the things you intended to do back in the spring. If it stays in the 80s, 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. 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 this month. Heat lovers like lantana, zinnias, cannas and dahlias are now in good supply. Remember that annuals are heavy feeders. Get the most out of them by feeding them plant food on a regular basis. 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 stirrup hoe, then cover the soil with a 1-inch layer of compost. Your beds will look tidy, 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.