Whether it's a bleak December or the more mild weather we are becoming used to, you can still spend useful time in the garden. David Coton suggests the jobs that can occupy the shortening days.
At this time of the year you'll find a fabulous selection of summer bedding at our Garden Centre in Birmingham. David Coton will be planting the bedding in containers this month to achieve a wonderful display of colour and here are some other jobs to do in the garden in June.
If you have a small garden or just a balcony, try growing vegetables and herbs in pots and planters. Use multi-purpose compost, add slow release fertilizer and choose compact varieties. Bush tomatoes, salad leaves, beetroot, chillies can all be grown successfully, even French beans in a large planter.
Container grown plants, particularly in terracotta pots, will need watering every day, do this in the evening so that the water isn't immediately evaporated and target the roots rather than foliage. Alternatively set up an automatic watering system.
If your lawn had a spring fertilizer applied and there has been a decent amount of rain, the grass should be thriving. So you can lower the blades on the mower while cutting the grass once a week.
During a spell of dry weather raise the lawn mower blades, water generously every week or ten days and leave the cuttings on the grass to conserve moisture.
Whether in your lawn, or on the driveway, weeds need to be controlled either manually or with weed killer before they proliferate. If you have bindweed, eradicate every piece of root, catch dandelions, ragwort and groundsel before they seed, and dig up the long tap roots of docks and plantains. In the flowerbed and vegetable patch, hoe when it's dry so the annual weeds die swiftly.
It's the purpose of foliage to reinvigorate bulbs after they have flowered, by June it will have yellowed and died back, and so can safely be removed.
Collect seed from Hellebores, Primulas and other self-seeding perennials in a paper bag, sow straight away in moist compost and you'll have new plants ready for the garden in the autumn.
After hardening off, tender vegetable plants such as courgettes and squash can now be planted out together with marrows and other squashes with plenty of space between them.
Sow Peas, French Beans and Runner Beans. Thin out rows of successive sowings of Lettuce, Rocket and Carrots to provide a continuous supply of fresh vegetables.
Support Broad Beans so that they will survive batterings from bad weather.
It's worth checking whether your early potatoes are ready to harvest, if planted in April they will be soon. Don't wait for flowers as they aren't always produced. Continue to earth up the main crop, not only does this protect tubers but suppresses weeds as well.
Sow annual herbs such as parsley, basil and coriander.
Make sure the greenhouse is well ventilated on hot days by opening windows and doors. Provide shade by either using blinds or painting the glazing.
Feed tomatoes when the first fruits set with a specialist feed that's high in potassium and continue to remove side shoots.
It's safe now to move any overwintering citrus plants outside, but every three years they need re-potting using fresh compost. Add grit so that essential drainage is maintained, and this is also helped by raising the pot above ground.
Only water citrus plants when the soil is completely dried out, then add tomato feed or liquid seaweed, and make sure the water flows through rather than remains in the container.
Fruit that doesn't pass muster falls off early, it's the natural June drop to get rid of the weak so that the strong will prosper. You can help this process by thinning apples to one per cluster, reduce pears to two per cluster, 4 - 6ins apart. Plums tend to be heavy croppers, putting great strain on the branches, so thin to two fruits every six inches.
Tie raspberry canes in to prevent them falling over. They can spread rapidly, so dig up any shoots that have ventured too far and consign them to the compost bin.
Mulch strawberries, this raises them off the ground, keeps them clean and lessens the chances of rot or slug damage. Peg down runners in pots of compost to form new plants.
Birds love berries, but so do we. If a purpose built fruit cage is out of the question, use netting secured by pegs to protect the fruit. Also hang anything nearby that is shiny and reflective such as strips of aluminium foil, CDs and tin cans.
Deadhead roses regularly, this will encourage repeat flowering varieties to form new shoots and buds. For bush and single bloom varieties cut back the stem by about six inches to a sturdy leaf. On multi-flowering roses, just pinch off the bloom and then when all the flowers have faded prune the stem. On non-repeat flowering roses cut the stems back by a third.
Others plants that benefit from dead heading include rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas.
Early planted sweet peas will need to be tied in, if you were late planting them, pinch out when they are about 6ins to encourage bushier growth. Keep them well watered.
Clematis, which are notoriously greedy when starting to flower, will benefit from a liquid seaweed or tomato feed. Train shoots with string to keep the clematis compact and tie in new growth on jasmine and other climbers.
Fill gaps in the border with summer bedding, fork compost into the soil before planting and keep moist.
In dry weather clumps of geraniums, geums and lady's mantle can be invigorated by cutting back and given a high potash feed.
Stake tall growing perennials such as delphiniums
Lift and divide Irises, primulas and primroses after they have finished flowering.
Shrubs that have flowered in the spring can be pruned back so that they keep their shape.
Take softwood cuttings. Cut off a 2 - 4in long piece of new growth just below a leaf joint and remove the lower leaves and then dip into a rooting hormone powder. Pot or place several cuttings in a tray, cover with a plastic bag and place in a warm light position but out of direct sun light. Ensure the compost is kept moist and rooting should take place in about six weeks.
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Encourage bees into your garden with nectar rich flowers such as lavender, honeysuckle, evening primrose and foxgloves. Butterflies will be attracted by buddleia that can be planted when the soil has warmed, it's easy to grow but prefers alkaline conditions.
As with the rest of the garden, your pond will be the scene of intense activity during early summer, as both fish and plants thrive in the warm water. It's a particularly busy and interesting time of the year and here are some ideas on what to do in the pond in June.
June is the ideal month to add fish to a pond, just try not to go overboard introducing too many at one time or overstock your pond. Also bear in mind that if you want a wildlife pond then it's unwise to add ornamental fish as they will, for example, eat tadpoles.
Always use a supplier who is a member of Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA), as you can be assured that the livestock is well looked after to set standards. We are an OATA member and we pride ourselves on looking after pond fish such as Koi, Goldfish, Sturgeon and many more species to a high standard.
When you buy your fish they should be in a polythene or similar type of bag which will be tied. You will usually float this bag on top of your pond, making sure that the water in the bag has equalised with the temperature of the pond water.
If the weather is hot, be careful as the temperature in the bag may rise rapidly in a similar way to a greenhouse, harming and maybe suffocating your new fish. The best way to avoid this is to cut open your bag so that a good supply of oxygen can get to the fish. You can also dip the bag every so often so that the water in the bag acclimatises more slowly.
A pond vacuum will remove unwanted silt and sludge from the bottom of the pond. Doing this on a regular basis will prevent water pollution and is especially important when you are adding more livestock to the pond.
There are various pond treatments available to improve the water quality and eliminate various fish problems. However, be careful if you're using chemical treatments, many of these can take oxygen out of the water. This is especially important if the weather is hot as the heat will already have reduced the oxygen levels in your pond water. To increase oxygen levels and improve water movement you can consider installing a water feature or fountain.
Particularly if you pond is subject to prolonged periods of sunlight or has been topped up with tap water, you may continue to struggle with blanket weed and algae for which there are natural and chemical solutions. Read our blog on how barley straw can help to clear your pond of blanket weed.
Green water will also be more common at this time of year, if you haven't already then you will need to change your UV lamp in your UV Clarifier so that it is at optimum strength. If you do not have a UV clarifier you could use a treatment such as Blagdon Green Away which will kill the suspended algae but you need to add a sludge treatment to consume this algae afterwards.
Every gardener must have noticed a decline in the number of bees over recent years. Whatever the cause, and most people place the blame on pesticides, especially neonicotinoids, it's a worrying trend that we can all help to reverse.
As an excellent alternative to conventional products, Trimetals' storage solutions blend top quality manufacture with contemporary style. Their range has now been extended to include two new maintenance free sheds and Robert Hall has all the details.
Zest 4 Leisure manufactures a large variety of timber garden furniture, fencing and leisure products, David Coton visited their brand new nine acre site near Chester last week to find out more about current development and future plans.
Burbage metal and wooden gates, fencing and railing have recently been added to GardenSite, and last week David Coton took the opportunity to visit their Cannock base.