Garden tips for June
While many people think it is now too late to sow seed, June is actually an ideal time for many crops. The soil is warmer at this time of year and seeds that are sown now get away to a quick start: often catching up with others sown earlier in the year. This year the Edible Gardening Project team at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) will be sowing beetroot, broccoli, salad leaves, lettuce, radish, spinach and chard. Other favourites include turnip, fennel, kale, peas, spring onion, parsley and coriander. Once covered over, it is important to ensure the soil is moist so water-in the seeds well. If the weather is dry, make sure you water seedlings thoroughly as they are very vulnerable to drying out. Once they are growing vigorously it is time to thin them out to their correct spacing. Find out how much space they require from the original seed packet, a book or the web. People often find this difficult as, having tended their precious crops to this point, they don’t then want to pull them out. However, it is an essential part of the process as overcrowded plants will not thrive. You can, of course, eat the thinnings – just give them a rinse and add to a salad for a tasty early home-grown treat. In most areas the risk of frosts in June is minimal, so it is possible to plant out tender crops such as runner beans, French beans and courgettes that have been started off under cover earlier in the year. Remember to harden them off before planting them out. This means gradually acclimatising them to outdoor conditions. Plants that have been used to sheltered conditions can struggle with the shock of being put outside, and the cold and wind can damage fresh new growth. To avoid this, put them outside for progressively longer periods of time over the course of a week or two before finally planting them in the garden. If you have not already started runner beans, French beans or courgettes, you can now sow them directly outside. Winter brassicas and leeks that were started off in nursery beds or seed trays can now be planted into their final growing position. As always, keep an eye out for pests and disease. If you see a problem, it is often best to remove it as soon as possible to prevent it spreading to other plants. The most effective way of warding off problems in the first place is to give the plants the conditions they require to keep them growing healthily. Make sure they are spaced, watered and fed correctly to produce strong healthy plants that will have a better resistance to pests and disease. Hopefully you will be harvesting the first crops of the year this month. Broad beans, lettuce, radish, rocket, spring onion, peas and spinach could all be ready now. Pick crops regularly when they are in the optimum condition, this helps to prevent gluts and reduce wastage.
ROYAL BOTANIC GARDEN, EDINBURGH ARBORETUM PLACE, EDINBURGH TEL: 0131 248 2909 WWW.RBGE.ORG.UK