Saturday, June 4, 2016

June Edible Garden Planner 2016

Lettuce in foreground, herbs in background

Saturday, June 4, 2016

June is a productive time in the garden.  Cool season crops are peaking while summer crops are just starting to produce with herbs in full swing.  Everything is a lush green at the beginning of the month.  As June gets in full swing, it will be time to begin regular watering.  As your fruit producing veggies flower, they will need a boost of fertilizer.  As the rain slows down, consistent ground moisture is key.

What’s growing in the garden right now
Most of the lettuce I planted in March is starting to bolt.  The seeds started in April are ready to transplant and.  Kale is of a good size.  The resown lettuce from 3 weeks ago are about 3" tall.  I am replanting these into larger pots and into the garden bed.  Overwintered sprouting broccoli has their small florets for use in salads.  Don’t worry about insect damage to the leaves on cabbage and broccoli as long as the heads are forming nicely.  A little insect damage will not affect the quality of the head produced.

When I get an infestation of caterpillars, I like to use diatomaceous earth (de).  It is made of tiny aquatic fossils from fresh water.  Their hard edges cause scratches on caterpillars and insects resulting in dehydration.  So no chemicals involved.  I use them only on plants that don't flower as de will kill pollinators, too.

Arugula, sorrels, chard and cultivated dandelions are all harvestable and flowering.  As it gets hotter, these greens become stronger.  Since they are perennials, they are the first up in the spring for fresh salads.  Harvest the new leaves in summer for the mildest taste.  You can cut them back, too, to get fresh new leaves.  It doesn't hurt them at all.  

The cilantro, rosemary, sage, chives, savory, oregano, basil, lavender, dill, tarragon, parsley and thyme are filling out nicely and flowering. The chives have already bloomed with their beautiful lavender flowers.  The flowers are edible, too.  They are fun to use in salads or as a substitute for onions in cooking.  Very pretty to add in baked potatoes and grill.  We slice our potatoes, add some diced onion or chive flowers, butter, seasoning, wrap in foil and throw on the grill.  Yum.
Flowering chives

Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, and squash are all flowering.  Keep an eye out for cucumber beetles and caterpillars.  Just pluck them off and throw into a can of soapy water.  
How to control bugs naturally, organically

Overwintered carrots and beets, onions, garlic, and leeks are all flowering, including the Egyptian walking onion.  I am harvesting the walking onion any time I need onions for cooking.  The green stalk is great as a fresh chive, too, for salads or potatoes.

Strawberries are ripe for the picking.
Ripe Alpine strawberries
Now is the time to provide shade for your lettuce and sow bolt resistant varieties like Summer Crisp Magenta, Green Towers and Jericho Romaine, Simpson Elite leaf.  The Grand Rapids is doing quite well in the heat.  You can move your lettuces if in pots to a shadier part of your patio or porch.  Shade cloths can be used for those in the garden.  You can also plant taller veggies on the south and west side of your lettuces so as they grow, they provide shade to the lettuces.  I move most of my greens around to the northeast, shady side of the house this time of the year to keep them sweet as long as possible.  
Bolt-free, sweet summer lettuces

For a spinach substitute, you can grow New Zealand spinach.  It has spinach taste and loves the heat.
Growing summer salads

Best time to harvest
The best time to harvest almost any vegetable is mornings or right after a rain; this is when they are the crunchiest, fullest and sweetest.  Harvest greens in the morning before you go to work and store in the frig for the day.  Just don’t store tomatoes in the frig; this ruins the flavor.

The best time to harvest aromatic herbs like rosemary, thyme and oregano is in the afternoon when the oils are most concentrated.  Harvest herbs like parsley, cilantro and dill in the cooler part of the day.

Watering & fertilizing tips
With the heat coming, it is time to start watering.  Keep consistent moisture to your lettuces to keep taste sweet and your lettuce from bolting as long as possible.  When your lettuce does bolt, let it go to flower and seed.  The bees and beneficial insects enjoy the flowers and the seeds can easily be saved for fall and next spring planting.  

Fertilize all your fruit bearing veggies when the first flowers appear (right now we have flowers on our cucumber, zucchini, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes).  Provide only compost tea or kelp the rest of the season.  Too much nitrogen will cause your plants to grow lush foliage with no fruits.  Nitrogen stimulates green growth.

Can I still plant a garden in June-Yes!
There are many vegetables and herbs that you can still plant right now.   Any of the summer vegetables love these temperatures and sun.  As a matter of fact, this is the best time to plant cucumbers and zucchini to avoid the vine borer.  Even if you have planted zucchini and tomatoes already, late June is a good time to plant a second crop.  The cucumber seeds I planted a couple of weeks ago rotted so I am re-planting.  Many gardeners have had this happen to them with all the rain we are getting this spring.  

A complete list of all veggies that can be planted in June:
Bush beans
Broccoli raab
Brussels sprouts
Bulbing fennel
Mediterranean herbs (basil, thyme, sage, oregano, rosemary, chives)
Summer squash
Sweet potatoes

Savory, thyme, lettuce, onions with day lilies in the background

Here are a couple of garden ideas

If you have a picky eater, try the kid’s pizza/spaghetti garden.  If they grow it, they want to eat it!
Tomatoes-any you can’t eat, you can easily freeze for winter pizzas, salsa, or sauce
Basil, oregano, chives, garlic for seasoning
Onions-you can grow Egyptian walking onions in a pot or ground and they are perennials to boot
Kale, arugula, broccoli and peas for spring and fall pizza toppings (also easy to freeze for later)
Green peppers, eggplant, zucchini for summer pizzas (maybe some hot peppers for the adults)
For those that are real adventuresome, you can get mushroom kits to grow mushrooms.

Or if you want a culinary garden, here is an Italian/Sicilian garden that you can grow in as little as a 6’ x 6’ space:
Herbs (1 each)-thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, and flat leaf parsley
3 basil plants (for pesto and seasoning)
2 tomatoes-1 Roma type for sauces and 1 slicer type for salads
2 sweet pepper plants
1 zucchini
1 eggplant
8 red onions (you can substitute Egyptian walking onions)
8 garlic plants
Arugula, spinach and lettuce scatter sown

Different lettuces in a decorative patio container

It is great fun, a time saver, and nutritious to grow your own food in your yard or patio!

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