June in the Veg Plot
Seeds to Sow Now
By the time it gets to June a lot of people start wondering if they’ve left it too late to sow their own veg seeds. Whilst you will have missed the opportunity to sow plants that need a long growing season like tomatoes and peppers, June remains an ideal month for sowing about 90% of the veg we can grow in the UK.
June is a great month for sowing beans–runners, borlottis and french beans can all be sown direct in your soil this month. Push a pair of seeds about a thumbs depth into the soil at 9-12 inch intervals, and pull one out if both come up.
Bamboo cane frames are great if you’ve got space because you’ll get a bigger crop, but dwarf bean varieties are an easier option because they need no support.
Now’s a great time to sow these guys, if you haven’t already:
- Florence Fennel
- Perpetual Spinach
- Purple Sprouting Broccoli
- Rainbow Chard
- Swiss Chard
Use modules or gutters to for sowing these because they need to be grown at wide intervals, and you’ll save yourself the labourious job of thinning out unwanted seedlings.
I sowed kale seeds in these modules just 10 days ago, and they've already bursting with life. I'll transfer them to their final growing positions about 6 weeks from sowing, when they’re about 3 inches high.
Veg that reaches maturity quickly and can only be harvested once - like coriander - should ideally be repeat-sown every month or two. That way you have a succession of plants reaching maturity and ready for eating.
If you've got the room, sow some more of these right now:
- Spring onions
(Wait until July to sow salad leaves like mizuna and rocket otherwise you'll find the plants get nibbled to bits by flea beetles)
It seems counter intuitive to be sowing more seeds when you haven't necessarily started eating the first sowings, but you'll reap the benefits from a dramatically extend the harvesting period.
Gutters come in handy here if you're short of space. You can raise plants in them until you're ready to replace the crops you're currently harvesting. And once you empty a gutter, make a habit of immediately filling it up with compost and load it up with some more seeds. We use them all the time.
It’s also time to transfer all frost-tender plants raised indoors over the last few weeks to the outside. Plant out:
- French Beans
- Runner Beans
Make sure you leave enough space between plants. It's always tempting to try and pack them in too closely, but you'll get weaker plants that produce a smaller crop and are more susceptible to disease. Leave a couple of feet between tomatoes, and 3-4 feet between squash and courgettes. Courgettes and tomato plants are prolific producers so you only need a few plants.
Dig some compost into the ground where you’re going to plant them to improve water retention in dry spells, and ensure these hungry plants have a steady supply of nutrients. You’ll get a bigger crop!
Vegetables are very fast growing plants, and given that they're 95% water it's essential to keep them well watered. You can normally tell when plants running short of water. The leaves have a tendency to flop, growth will be slow and often foliage turns yellow.
Avoid watering around midday. Water droplets on the leaves can magnify the suns rays, burning leaves in the process. It will also evaporate off the soil quickly.
Morning watering is best because your plants are about to go into rapid growth mode once the sun hits their leaves, and this way they can get access to all the water they need before it soaks down into the water table.
Give them a deluge, not a dribble. By only dampening the surface of your soil you encourage shallow rooting. Better to give them a proper drenching on an infrequent basis, so the roots chase the water down, deeper into the soil where they'll have a more consistent supply. Have a little dig with a trowel to check how dry the soil is, and how deep your watering has penetrated.
These guys will be growing fast too. As long as you don’t have a major problem with perennial weeds, which need to be dug out, the best solution is to regularly hoe your plot. Glide the tip of a hoe back and forth through the top layer of soil so you chop through the root. Dry mornings are best, and you can leave the weed plants on the surface of the soil to dry out and decompose back into the soil.
Get into the habit of doing a few minutes weeding every time you visit your plot. Weeds are much easier to deal with when they’re small. And whatever you do, don’t let them go to seed, which can happen really quickly. As the saying goes – ‘One years seeds, seven years weeds’!
Enjoy your plot, and hears to a great harvest in July!