Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Matt’s diary – June

June is still a good time to sow fast maturing vegetables in areas usually affected by late frosts, something that ‘caught out’ many gardeners last month in areas where the last frosts are generally much earlier.  Spring onions, parsley and other salads that are harvested successionally should continue to be sown regularly until August, to make full use of the growing season. Those needing warm soil like Florence Fennel, Courgettes and French and Runner beans, can be sown direct into the soil, too, ideally, early in the month. While you are sowing, it is also time to be thinking ahead to winter! Sprouting broccoli, Brussels sprouts and autumn and winter cauliflowers can be transplanted from the greenhouse into thoroughly prepared beds.

There is also plenty to harvest, so enjoy the fruits of your labour! Pick podded crops like French and broad beans regularly as  harvesting encourages them to continue flowering, and extends the cropping season.

Be vigilant while you are working in the garden, as pests and diseases abound! Check plants daily if you can, it is much better to control problems before they are established and cause damage to your plants. Small populations of aphids can be squashed by hand as can Lily beetle which can decimate your plants overnight. Check plants morning and evening for lily beetle. When you go to catch them, first put your hand underneath the leaf, their defence mechanism is to drop off the leaf, then scuttle away and escape only to wreak more devastation later on!

There is still time to fill gaps in the flower border with annuals, like Godetia, Clarkia and Gilia, it is a wonderful way to create a colourful display, taking very little time or money. Simply rake a seedbed in the gap, to a fine tilth and sow them in straight, shallow drills – this makes it easy to distinguish between plants and weeds. Once the seedlings have established, the formal lines soon disappear and you will be left with a lovely display.
Most modern cucumber cultivars only produce female flowers, but older varieties produce both male and female, if females are pollinated, the fruits are bitter, so pinch off the male flowers when they appear. It’s easy to identify the females; there’s the small swelling of an embryo fruit just behind the flower.

Melons and marrow’s can be hand pollinated; look for the developing fruit is behind the female flower, remove a male flower, strip off the petals and push the pollen into the centre of the female flowers or just leave the bees to do all the work. To encourage pollination of tomatoes, tap the flowers or supporting cane or string or mist them with tepid water, around mid day if possible; their fruit doesn’t set at temperatures above 90degF or below 55deg. So ventilate the greenhouse when necessary and remember to fill your watering cans and leave them in the greenhouse for 48 hours, so the water becomes tepid, before use.

Happy Gardening! Matt