It’s official – summer is here! And hopefully June brings long sunny days, allowing us to reap the benefits of our spring preparations with our gardens and an abundance of lush growth and bright colours. But as we gardeners know, there is always something to be done, even in the most well-tended gardens. For those of you who need a helping hand, here’s a list of garden jobs for early June.
Over in the beds and borders, water is a vital part of your garden maintenance. Particular attention should be given to anything newly planted as it is imperative that they do not dry out while they are settling in. Older or existing shrubs and plants can have a layer of mulch applied around the base to help retain moisture as the temperatures rise – this also adds nutrients to the soil in the plant’s root area.
Roses should be in full bloom in June. But with increased temperatures and the frequent showers common to Irish summers, this is also a time for an increase of pests and diseases in the rose bed. Roses can suffer from black spot, rust or powdery mildew; all fungal diseases which thrive in damp warm weather. The new flower buds are also very attractive to greenfly, whitefly and blackfly. All of the above problems can be address by spraying with a combined fungicide/pesticide, such as Rose Rescue or Rose Clear Ultra. Do remember to remove any leaves showing signs of disease and collect any leaf drop from the soil underneath the plant to impede the spread of infection. An application of Westland Rose Feed with Enriched Horse Manure will ensure both good flowering as well as a healthy immune system for fighting pests and diseases.
Whether you grow from seed, or buy as plugs in the Garden Centre, your summer bedding can now be moved out to fill the gaps in your beds and borders. The best plants for instant summer colour would be dahlia, marigold, osteospermum, alyssum, geranium, stock, antirrhinum, lobelia, calendula, impatiens and, of course, pansy and viola. As with every newly planted addition to your garden, use a quality compost and a slow release feed at planting and remember to water in well.
If the gaps in your flower beds are of a significant size, why not consider adding to your herbaceous perennial stock. June flowering additions would be the Arum Lily (Zantedeschia), Catmint (Nepeta), Foxgloves (Digitalis), Lupins (Lupinus) or Wallflowers (Erysimum). Do remember that taller plants will need support when heavy with flower and it is easier to install supports at planting time.
Summer colour does not need to be restricted to the beds and borders. Your patio can be instantly brightened up with containers, hanging baskets and window boxes. For those of you who have already planted up, your pots and baskets can now be moved into position as the risk of frost should have well passed. There a only a few rules to a successful planted container; regular water, good drainage, feeding and a good quality compost.
Another important ingredient is feed. The addition of a slow release fertiliser at planting time ensures a timely release of fertiliser to the plants as the season progresses.
Hanging baskets are usually lined with co-co or moss which will allow for drainage. Pots and containers, however, will require a little help in this regard. Place a layer of crocks (pieces of old broken pots) or stones in the base of your pot before you add your compost. Containers benefit from the addition of water saving gel to the compost; these are small crystals which can hold up to 400 times their weight in water and release this back into the compost as it starts to dry out. When watering, do ensure you water well; plants respond better to more water less often. It should be noted, however, in very hot weather you may have to water daily. Do not overfill your container with compost; you should leave at least a 3 or 4 cm gap at the top to ensure the compost doesn’t overflow from the container during watering.
There are a variety of good flowering upright and trailing plants to brighten your deck or patio; verbena, petunia, lobelia, begonia, fuchsia, million bells, bacopa, diascia, geranium, or alyssum. All of the above will provide an abundance of colour throughout the summer.
Before dressing your deck or patio area with your newly planted containers, make sure to remove any unsightly moss or lichens. PAC Patio Algae & Moss Cleaner is a biodegradable product for use on stone, brickwork, tarmac and requires no scrubbing or power-hosing.
In the vegetable garden you should be thinning out your rows of young seedlings and ensure to keep the beds weed free. If you are using raised beds, remember they will dry out at a quicker rate so attention should be given to watering. June is a good time to plant sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli but it would be a good idea to cover this planting area with netting to deter the cabbage moth and caterpillars which will happily munch their way through your young plants. You should also continue successive sowing (every 2 weeks) of salad plants to ensure continued harvest right through to autumn.
As fresh growth emerges in the summer garden, slugs and snails are at their happiest. They are at their most active in the early evenings and hide away during the heat of the day in areas of garden debris. Keep leaf drop and debris to a minimum and if you notice any clumps of eggs in the soil (clusters of small clear beads), these should be broken up with a hoe or spade. Watering in the morning to ensure bedding areas are drier in the evenings is another way to disrupt their environment. Circling the young plants with sharp/rough top dressings of bark, perlite, sand or gravel impedes their progress across the soil. Bayer Garden Slug Bait Killer is certified for use by organic gardeners, is safe around children and pets and can be used on edible plants. The pellets add iron and phosphate to the soil as they break down over time; both good nutrition for your plants.