Rushlake Green Village Leaf

Gardening Diary June 2012

In many respects this month is the most delightful month of the gardener's year. The flowers of spring have gone but in their place is an abundance of summer blossom, lupins and iris are in their pomp, paeonies may still remain and delphiniums have started their display.

Though I am a keen advocate of the Dutch hoe, for those with limited time, a mulch over the beds may be a useful and labour saving measure. The main rules are that it should be laid deep, at least four inches and preferably after the ground has had a good soaking. This locked away moisture may be retained for a considerable time. Any raw and uncomposted material should be avoided, this includes fresh green waste, wood shavings, straw and wood bark as their use can lead to denitrification of the soil. Yes, bacteria in the soil which usually convert nitrogen into useable nitrates can become starved of oxygen so forcing them separate the oxygen molecules from the soil bound nitrates, which are then lost to the atmosphere. I say this not just to appear wise and clever; I have seen the process in action, especially on undug slightly acid soil. If mulch you must, then a thorough clearing of perennial weeds and an application of a nitrogen fertiliser may be carried out first. It is at this season of the year that the benefits of thorough and deep digging begin to show. Drought has nothing like the same effect on thoroughly prepared ground as it has on shallow soil hastily dug to a mere few inches.

Though we love all God's creatures, it is important that we wage unceasing war against insect pests. Aphides, caterpillars and other insect pests if allowed to multiply unchecked, will wreak havoc in the vegetable and flower garden alike, though it is becoming yearly more difficult to carry on this war as dictats from Brussels have banned Agent Orange, DDT and other less potent gardener's friends.

In the borders we may not be afraid to thin out crowded stems of such subjects as Michaelmas daisies, rudbeckia, solidago, helianthus and phloxes. A few strong stems, given room will give a better display than overcrowded clumps. As spikes of lupins finish, they may be cut away just below the bottom pods. The development of unwanted seed puts a great strain upon the plants and weakens their crowns, to the detriment of further growth. Faded flower heads may be removed from rhododendrons and azaleas so allowing the new buds to grow unrestrained, old paeony flowers may also be removed unless some seed pods are wanted for flower arrangements at Christmas. Roses will have been harbouring the spores of rust and blackspot over winter and though the early leaves look shiny and healthy, the spores will be secretly building their strength ready to tarnish the leaves later on. I find spraying from march to June is often sufficient for the whole season.

In the vegetable garden we may be sowing French and Runner beans, lettuce, radishes and spinach for succession. Planting of Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflowers and savoys may be carried on as the ground becomes available. Brassicas always planted firmly. Earthing up of potatoes should be carried on little and often. The dibber may now get its annual outing for the planting of leeks. Six to eight inches deep, roots and leaves trimmed.
Any flower spikes of rhubarb can be cut away to help build up the crown for next year.

We may hope time can be found for the garden in amongst all the planned pagan sun worshipping and royal celebrations planned for June.

The Gardening Diary is kindly volunteered by Ross Atabey from Green & Great Gardens your local landscaping and garden specialists. For further advice contact Ross on 07941 315214 01435 812 153 or visit