In answer to the question ‘what should we be doing on the smallholding this month?’ I feel like the only answer is ‘Everything!’ There is so much to do in June that it’s impossible to make a comprehensive list so I’ve put together some pointers that may remind, inform or inspire you.

It’s difficult not to overdo it this month but this summer I’ve made a vow to take time to stop so that I can enjoy the spaces I’ve made in the holding, the activity I’m doing whether planting or weeding (ugh) or the taste of what I’ve grown. I’m also definitely going to take time to be a bit smug and pleased with myself as I harvest what I’ve grown (slugs willing)!

Fabulous flowers

Smallholder:

  • Last chance to sow flowering annuals
  • Lift and divide clumps of spring bulbs
  • Keep picking sweet peas to encourage even more blooms
  • Continue to deadhead repeat flowering roses
  • Keep an eye on climbers such as clematis and honeysuckle for new growth and tie up as necessary
  • Plant summer bedding plants
  • Deadhead geraniums by removing the whole flower stem not just the faded flowers and remove any rotting flowers
  • Plant out tender plants such as dahlias and salvas and tender annuals like cosmos and zinnias
  • Plant up hanging baskets and containers with geraniums, fuschia, lebeila and more
  • Plant sunflower seeds but protect seedlings against slugs and snails
  • Sow lupin seeds and either soak them for 24 hours or gently chip open seeds to aid germination
  • Plant night scented stock to give evenings a wonderful fragrance

Voluminous veg

Smallholder:

  • Keep weeding, little and often
  • Keep cropping and sowing salad leaves for a continuous supply
  • Pinch out tomato sideshoots and potted up to make new plants
  • Feed tomato plants once the first tress has set fruit
  • Harvest garlic and onion leaves once they are yellow
  • Last chance to plant runner beans
  • Sow peas, beetroot, kale, mangetout, French beans, swede and turnip
  • Plant out courgettes, tomatoes, squash, French beans, sweet potatoes, chicories, sweetcorn, peppers and chillies

Heady harvest

Smallholder:

  • Strawberries and raspberries – how many will reach the kitchen when they taste so good straight from the plant?
  • Blackcurrants, white currants and redcurrants are beginning to ripen
  • Pick sour gooseberries for jam but leave the rest to ripen
  • Summer herbs are ready
  • Broad beans, French beans and peas are ready
  • Carrots, spring onions, watercress and lettuce are ready for summer salads

Beware the bugs

  • Aphids – check under leaves and if found remove and up pest control measures
  • Carrot root fly – protect plants with fleece, place a pot of mint nearby or, if possible, raise above the fly’s very low flight path
  • Cabbage root fly – check cabbages and brassicas but also root crops such as swede, turnip and radish for sign of wilting and maggots and use fleece or brassica collars
  • Birds, squirrels and rabbits - protect developing fruit with netting
  • Slugs – keep checking, especially at night, remove and up the anti with whichever measures you are comfortable using. While they are a significant problem for every grower, try to remember that slugs aren’t all bad – they make an excellent feast for wildlife including birds, hedgehogs, toads and ground beetles and they play a vital role in turning your kitchen peelings and garden trimmings into rich, nutritious compost.

And finally

Smallholder:
Small magpie moth

It’s the height of the bat and moth season so keep your eyes peeled, especially at dusk.

This month females are feeding their milk to mostly single pups so they need to fortify themselves by eating thousand of insects each night.

This year’s national Moth Night will be held between June 14 – 16 during the days and nights. The theme is pyralid moths, although participants don’t have to stick to the theme.

Pyralid moths are prefect to spot for this surveying event as they many species are both beautiful and easily noticeable. Many are common and can be encountered both by day and by night, which makes them very accessible to everyone. Some are restricted in range and considered to be a species at threat, so the results of this national survey are vital so that appropriate action can be taken to slow down the demise or at the least to learn more about it.

*****************************************

This article was first published in Smallholder magazine. Subscribe here or buy from your local newsagent.