2019 June Gardening Tips

by Maureen Haseley-Jones, The English Lady

June 12, 2019
Categories: 

The fullness and fragrance of bloom is all round us. The early summer sun is on the way, gently shining and the summer garden will be ready to flourish with flora, foliage and delicious edibles in the vegetable gardens. 

The heady fragrance of Miss Kim, dwarf lilacs drifts through my southern window, the wild roses in burgeoning array opening and in my field on the west side, the long stand of peonies in the field are beginning to waft their fragrance throughout the garden. 

All of this bounty is the result of composted manure that I have added three times each season.  In June, when the soil has warmed to sixty degrees, the manure bacteria works with the millions of soil organisms to produce nutrients for the roots of the plants.  

However, heat and humidity is on the horizon with high temperatures and drying winds; the soil dries out fast in summer heat and this causes plants to shrivel and burn.  An excellent counter measure to this situation is a good layer of the composted manure and a light layer of natural brown bark mulch that retains moisture in soil and helps to retard weeds. 

These two measures build the humus component and draw life-giving carbon from the atmosphere. Grow the soil and it will grow the plants. Add manure again in July over the mulch when the garden is working hard and needs replenishment and again in October to continue to build the humus layer to protect and nourishes plant roots through winter. 

I wrote about the humus component and carbon in my April tips but wanted to emphasize its importance by emphasizing its importance yet again: 

All living things including humans are all carbon-based creatures. 
Humus brings carbon from the air into the soil.

Humus acts like a sponge and holds 90% of its weight in water. Because of its negative charge, plant nutrients stick to humus bringing nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus and other important elements to the plant, preventing these nutrients from washing away, acting like nature’s slow release fertilizer.

Humus improves soil structure making it loose and friable, which helps plants to root in this environment with better access to nutrients, water and oxygen. Humus also helps to filter toxic chemicals from soil, much like carbon-based water filtration systems filter toxins from your water. 

Precious soils around the world are being depleted of carbon, decimated by misguided practices in industrial agriculture and poisonous chemicals. Scientists are telling us that within two decades, steady carbon depletion will inevitably lead to ecological collapse. Deprived of carbon and critical soil microbes, soils become sterile, devoid of a healthy life sustaining microbial ecosystem.  

All life on earth is carbon-based and the millions of soil microbes or organisms must have carbon to flourish. Carbon taken from the atmosphere enters your organic soil where over time the decomposed manure and mulch breaks down to the smallest particles and is made available to nourish the roots of the plants. Humus, consisting of mainly carbon compounds is extremely stable and can remain in the soil for hundreds even thousands of years. You just need to make sure it remains so by adding the composted manure and the brown fine bark mulch through each season to continue to build the humus.

Scientists tell us that carbon only binds in a healthy organic soil, which means all poisons herbicides and pesticides must be carefully discarded.  Many of you know that for many years I have been broadcasting and lecturing throughout New England on this fact – so that our soils, our plants, animals, ground water and our own lives, in fact all living entities can survive.   

WEEDS are a never-ending nemesis for all gardeners but to help overcome this problem, there is an excellent weed retardant by Bradfield Organics that can be purchased from the garden center.  This product is an organic corn gluten based weed pre-emergent so that when after you clear a patch of weeds; sprinkle the product on the soil to keep weeds at bay for a few weeks.  

When weeding, the best method is to remove them by hand; if you use an implement, a tool will break up the weeds, scattering thousands of hungry weed seeds and portions of weed roots that will result in an avalanche of weeds. 
In September, when you seed or reseed lawns, do not use the Bradfield corn gluten weed pre-emergent, as it will prevent the seeds from germinating.    

In the vegetable gardens in our nursery in England, we used composted manure as mulch. Unlike other mulches, manure will not crust or cap, therefore water and air can penetrate to the roots of the plants where it is needed.  

Buds and blooms are opening on the peonies together with armies of ants. I find it fascinating to witness the symbiotic partnership between ants and peonies.  A question I am often asked is “Maureen, should I worry about ants on my peonies?” The answer is “ No, lots of ants on the peonies shows that you have healthy plants with big buds producing a lot of nectar which attract the ants”. When you see ants “let them live”; more often than not their presence indicates that you have aphids present and the ants feed off aphids.

Peonies need plenty of water for good bloom. In early spring I give a light application of composted manure to both Hydrangeas and Peonies. 

However, even though you are in the mood to plant and transplant – DO NOT plant or transplant Peonies until September and when you do plant or transplant, make sure that the pink eyes on the roots of the plant are barely covered with soil – just enough so they are secure and do not topple over. After the first hard frost in November cut the Peony stalks to about six inches from the ground. 

Hydrangeas are a wetland plant and require an adequate amount of water especially during hot and dry weather. An application of composted manure and a small amount of peat, which is acidic, will produce an even deeper blue on the blue variety of Hydrangeas Macrophylla.  Make sure Hydrangeas have plenty of space to grow as they get very large and do not like to be transplanted – the space between will also ensure good ventilation to prevent powdery mildew.
Pruning – prune 25% of old woody stems and some of the weakest stems immediately AFTER flowering in late August. Hydrangeas set their buds for next year in September pruning later than the end of August and you will lose bloom for next year and maybe even longer.   
 
Last year due to the wet, cold and long spring we were not blessed with long periods of strong warm sun, which resulted in poor bloom on the Hydrangeas. This year even following a cold wet spring, hopefully from June on, we can experience a long spell of sunny weather, interspersed with gentle rain to produce copious blooms this season. By applying more manure in July, this application will encourage Hydrangeas to bloom more readily.  

The natural method for eliminating harmful insects and diseases in the garden:
1.) The lowly toad is an extremely useful creature in the war on insects. 

In my garden I have a toad house, which I placed in a shady, quiet spot. There is no reason to buy commercial toad houses. Unearth an old clay pot in the garage or shed, that is cracked, making sure that the crack is about 4 inches wide for the doorway to this ‘toad house’ so that the toad can enter. Also put a small saucer as a floor under the pot with some rocks, and keep the rocks damp, then your friendly bad bug eater will set up residence and eat about two hundred bad bugs each week. .

2.) Garlic is the anti-biotic of the garden as it is an important anti-fungal element to protect your plants I suggest you plant plenty of it next fall if you do not already have some in the garden?  

To avoid fungal diseases plant garlic around strawberries, tomatoes and raspberries to avoid fungal diseases. 
Plant garlic around mildew-prone plants such as summer phlox and bee balm.
Plant garlic under fruit trees to avoid scab and root disease.
Plant garlic next to ponds or standing water to control mosquito larvae, or pour garlic water into the water to keep away adult mosquitoes. 
Where you notice marauders that either insects or animals have been munching make a garlic spray to apply on the plants:

Garlic spray recipe

  • 4 large crushed garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 squirt of mild dish detergent
  • Put all ingredients in 2 cups of hot water in the blender, blend, then leave overnight
  • Then put in a gallon sprayer with cold water and spray in the early morning or in the evening when it is cooler and there is no wind.  

3.) To deter squirrels and chipmunks try a hot pepper spray

Hot pepper spray recipe 

  • Four hot chilies or one cup of cayenne pepper 
  • 2 cups of hot water, in the blender, leave overnight then put in a gallon sprayer with cold water and spray the problem areas in the early morning. 
  • The pepper spray works well on squirrels, chipmunks, deer as well as for dogs and cats that may be leaving their deposits in the garden. 

MULCH: Use only the brown natural fine bark mulch not the red dyed product and certainly not the cocoa mulch which has been found to be POISONOUS AND HAS CAUSED DEATH IN A NUMBER OF DOGS AND CATS WHICH ARE ATTRACTED TO THE CHOCOLATE SMELL, THE SYMPTOMS ARE SEIZURES AND DEATH WITHIN HOURS. 

When you mulch, up to a depth of three inches, do not put the mulch any closer than eight inches from the trunks of trees and shrubs, any closer encourages rodents to nest and gnaw on the wood. 

ROSES - June is the month for Roses. Personally I find that David Austin roses are the most trouble free, these repeat bloomers, have beautiful colors and wonderful fragrances.  

Some of my favorite David Austin roses are:

  • A Shropshire Lad, (Shropshire is my home county in England), this rose is a soft peachy pink with a fruity fragrance.
  • Abraham Darby with blooms in apricot to yellow, coupled with a rich fruity fragrance and spice.
  • Gertrude Jekyll – deep pink- soft musk fragrance. 
  • William Shakespeare – dark pink with a strong damask rose fragrance – reminds me of my Grandmother’s favorite rose – Crimson Glory.
  • Heritage, a soft clear pink and my favorite with overtones of fruit, honey and carnation on a myrrh background. 
  • Evelyn, which has giant apricot flowers in a saucer shape, the fragrance is a luscious fruity tone, reminding me of fresh peaches and apricots.  
  • Fair Bianca, a pure white, with a strong scent that is overlaid with an unusual heliotrope fragrance.

Previously, if you have not used heliotrope in your containers, you would certainly enjoy its fragrance. Heliotrope is a small bushy flower – usually pale lilac in color. The heliotrope fragrance is almost identical to that of the butterfly bush. Heliotrope plants are used as an annual here in zone 6 for containers or hanging baskets.  Heliotrope may be wintered over in a greenhouse. In summer here planted in containers combined with red geraniums and trailing verbena, make an attractive display. Plant in rich soil with composted manure and fine bark mulch in full sun but do not over water this plant, which will cause the leaves to turn black.

Add composted manure and natural brown mulch around the base of the roses after planting placed about eight inches away from the plant; the manure and mulch will keep the roots moist and cool. It is not necessary to feed the roses with an organic rose food; the composted manure is all that is necessary. Add a little more composted manure on top of the mulch in July and then stop feeding with the composted manure in mid August. By stopping the feeding at this time, allows the roses to go into a slow healthy dormancy. 

Roses and Clematis make a great combination grown together as they enjoy the same growing environment with their heads in the sun and feet in the shade with composted manure and mulch to feed the plants and keep the roots cool.

Japanese beetles are very attracted to roses but they can be controlled by the use of an organic grub control on the lawn in April, which kills the white Japanese beetle larvae. 

If you did not apply the organic grub control then use the following method on the adult Japanese beetles:
Pick the Japanese beetles off your plants in the morning when they are sleepy and cannot escape your efforts then drown them in soapy water.  Or put a drop cloth under the plants and shake the plants so the drowsy beetles fall onto the drop cloth which can be tipped into soapy water then dispose of them in the garbage.   

A tip for keeping cut roses fresh: Cut the roses in the morning, just above a five-leaf cluster and place stems in a container of lukewarm water.  Inside the house cut the stems again under luke warm running water, forming a one and a half inch angular cut, and then place in a vase filled with luke warm water.  Do not remove the thorns on cut roses, I have found that by removing the thorns reduces their indoor life by as much as three days.  

Summer phlox is particularly afflicted by powdery mildew. I recommend the white ones of the species, Phlox Miss Lingard or Phlox David; these are the most mildew resistant.  

Monarda, commonly known as Bee balm, is also affected by powdery mildew.  Be careful when introducing Monarda into the garden; this plant, like Purple Loosestrife and Evening Primrose which are extremely invasive and can take over your entire border.   

RECIPE FOR POWDERY MILDEW SPRAY  

  • 1 tablespoon Baking soda
  • 1-teaspoon liquid dish soap
  • 1-tablespoon vegetable oil 
  • In one gallon of water – in a sprayer
  • Water plants before spraying including foliage
  • Spray top and underside of foliage in early morning or late afternoon when there is no wind.
  • Do not store unused mixture as it will intensify and can burn plants. 

Wisteria: regular pruning through late spring and summer is the main factor to help this arrogant vine to flower. Prune the new growth every two weeks cutting into the plant at least nine inches on each stem.  If the plant still does not bloom then in early spring using a sharp spade cut down into the roots – a root pruning will often shock many plants especially Wisteria into bloom.  When adding manure and brown mulch do not forget to add it around the Wisteria. 

Clematis wilt: if you have this problem it will be noticeable early because the shoots wilt and die. Unfortunately this disease, which is soil born, is impossible to cure, therefore you cannot plant another clematis of that species in that area.

You can however, plant the Viticella clematis selection, which are vigorous, free flowering blooms and are not susceptible to wilt. Some good choices in this variety are Blue Belle, Etoile Violette, both are purple and Huldine, which is a white. 

CONTAINER GARDENS: If you have room for one pot you have room for a number; placed close together in different shapes and sizes, creates your own miniature cottage garden.  As well as regular pots, the most unexpected objects make really interesting containers.  
Check in your basement, shed or barn, as I did, a few years ago where I found an old wooden wheelbarrow, with a wheel missing, which I painted with eco-conscious paint in a periwinkle blue, a bit of whimsy. 

Or you may come across a large chipped ceramic jar like the old two foot tall ceramic vinegar container, from my basement, replete with a hole where the vinegar tap was inserted, ideal for drainage, and which will look great on my painted periwinkle blue bench next to the red milk shed and barn.  Periwinkle blue was my color for certain structures in the garden that year.

Plant the containers with a variety of ornamental grasses, large leafed plants like Cannas and Elephant Ears and perennials; remove perennials when they have finished blooming, plant them in the garden and add some annuals or other perennials from the garden.  

CAUTION - If you plant mint, plant it only in containers, as mint will overtake your garden.  

LAWN CARE: Keep an eye out for moles and if you see evidence put exlax down the holes.  Exlax is made of Senna, an organic herb and the moles eat the exlax, get dehydrated and the rest is history.  

I know there is always much work to be accomplished in the garden but please take the time to sit, relax, hydrate and enjoy the fruits of your labor. It’s so important to take the time to recharge, to have balance in your life and what better place to do this than in the garden. Keep your garden clean – a clean garden is a healthy garden.  Enjoy being outdoors in June and I’ll see you next month in your garden. 

I would love to hear from you and you can email me with your gardening questions to Maureen@TheEnglishLady.com.