June Garden Planner

Reader Contribution by Melodie Metje

June is a beautiful time in the garden. Cool season crops are peaking while summer crops are just starting to produce with herbs in full swing.

What’s Growing in Our Zone 6 Garden Now?

Most of the lettuce I planted end of April are now ready to harvest with all of my spinach and kale bolting. Cabbage and broccoli heads are forming so harvest is close for them. Be sure to keep consistent moisture to them. 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.

The rosemary, sage, chives, savory, oregano, basil, lavender and thyme are filling out nicely. Cilantro, a cool season herb, has bolted. The dill and fennel have nice feathery heads.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, and eggplant are growing with flowers on them all. Keep an eye out for cucumber beetles and caterpillars. Just pluck them off and throw into a can of soapy water. 

Strawberries are almost ripe for the picking.

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. 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.

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. 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.

A list of veggies that can be planted in June in the idwest:

Bush beans
Broccoli raab
Brussels sprouts

Bulbing fennel
Mediterranean herbs (basil, thyme, sage, oregano, rosemary, chives)
Summer squash
Sweet potatoes

Summer Garden Planning 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
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 (also perennials; what you don’t eat this year will come back next year)
Arugula, spinach and lettuce scatter sown

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

For more gardening ideas for growing in small spaces and containers, see Melodie’s blog atwww.VictoryGardenOnTheGolfCourse.com