University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Summer Article

Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
Lisa Halvorsen. Garden Writer

In June Mother Nature makes good on all those promises spring only hints at but never quite delivers.  The air is warm, the flowers in bloom, and there isn't a thing you can't plant in the garden.

If you got your garden in early, this month you can thin your lettuce, carrots, beets, and radishes, and start second plantings of beans, sweet corn, and salad crops.  Then again, if you delayed planting due to the weather or other reasons, it's really not too late to put in most crops.

The month of June is associated with roses.  For good bloom and healthy plants, be sure to fertilize yours this month, using a liquid fertilizer at each watering or a specific dry rose fertilizer according to directions.  Most of the new hybrids are especially heavy feeders and need a lot of fertilizer to bloom well if other conditions also are correct.  To discourage weeds and retain moisture, mulch with organic material around the base of each bush.

When planting rose bushes, choose a location that gets full sun and good air circulation.  Roses do best in well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.  Add plenty of organic matter such as peat moss or compost to the soil, and allow about three feet between plants.

This time of year, lawns need to be mowed regularly, usually once a week or even more often.  Frequent cutting promotes vigorous growth and a healthy lawn.  But don't wait too long between cuttings or cut your grass too short.  Most grasses should be mowed to one and one-half to two inches high.  Be sure the blades on your mower are sharp, so they will cut rather than tear the grasses.

Garden plants and ornamentals need to be watered regularly, unless June is rainy this year.  The rule of thumb when watering is to water heavily less often rather than lightly too often.  Plants need at least one inch of water per week.  You can measure this with a rain gauge, which can be purchased at most hardware stores or garden centers.

If you didn't get your tall perennials staked yet, do so now before it's too late.  For stalks like delphiniums, place bamboo stakes next to stalks and tie gently with twine.  Or you may enclose the whole plant with twine strung between stakes.  I like to use six-foot stakes--pipes, metal, or solid iron, driven two feet into the ground, as they are heavy duty, last for years, and won't rot as wood does.  Large clumps of perennials can be enclosed in a wire cage held in place with stakes.

Another option for tall perennials that bloom later in the season, such as garden phlox, New England aster, and sedum autumn joy, is to cut a few inches off the top in early summer.  This will promote branching, they won't be as tall so will not need staking, and if done this month shouldn't affect bloom time.

Late June is strawberry time.  Plan an outing to a local pick-your-own strawberry farm.  If you raise your own berries, renovate the bed after the harvest to ensure a plentiful crop next year.  To do this, remove weak and diseased plants, weed well, and work in one cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer per ten feet of row or an equivalent amount of organic fertilizer.  Water deeply throughout the summer to prevent the berry patch from drying out.

Finally, don't forget Dad.  Make his day special by offering to do all his gardening chores, mowing, or buying him that tool or plant that he's always wanted.

Other activities for June: brighten up a window ledge or deck with container plants; mulch vegetable crops mid-month; plant a butterfly garden

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