June has arrived in the PNW, and our gardens are starting to produce a thrilling abundance of color, fruit, and veggies. As we begin our roll into summer, the days are warmer and longer. Summer solstice is marked as the midsummer point, and is measured by the earth’s tilt towards the sun, which results in the longest period of daylight of the year. This year's summer solstice is on June 20th, so now is the time to begin preparing your garden for that long-awaited garden party!
June is also Pollinator Month. Encouraging natural pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds will help your garden thrive. You'll find a timely selection of ideal pollinator-attracting plants in our Pollinator Buffet display at the Patio. These insects are important components of the ecosystem because they are necessary for plant reproduction. We put together a guide for encouraging natural pollinators in your garden, and you can read it here.
Watering should be a priority this month, as the days get warmer and soil tends to dry out quicker. Deep watering is the key, not frequency. Better to water longer to get water down at least 8", which will develop deep root systems protecting them from extreme heat or cold. It’s easy to overwater in June, since the PNW can have inconsistent weather this time of year. Make sure you aren’t over watering by checking the soil frequently. Dig down around 5 inches to see if there is enough moisture. Test sprinklers to confirm they are covering areas appropriately and evenly through the summer. Use organic mulches to reduce water evaporation.
June is a good time to harvest and re-bed worm bins. Earthworms can create rich compost for your garden by recycling the organic waste from your household. If you don’t have one already, consider constructing a worm bin to compost kitchen scraps. The worms will munch on the scraps and leave castings behind, which makes excellent compost. Make sure to provide your worms with clean, moist bedding like leaves or newspaper strips to keep any lingering odor from entering your kitchen. You will also need to regularly feed your worms with vegetarian, organic waste like vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, grain, and egg shells (make sure you don’t give them any egg...they eat a plant-based diet for the most part).
Continue to watch for signs of pests and treat with natural, organic methods. You may see signs of butterfly larvae in the form of droppings and holes in leaves or on leaf edges. You can treat by crushing eggs, hand removing caterpillars, or using a floating row cover. It is important to note, however, that it's wise to learn to spot the difference between beneficial insects and harmful ones. Read our guide for encouraging natural pollinators here.
Many of your veggies will be ready to harvest this month. Look for artichokes to be ready, along with radishes, leafy greens like cabbage and spinach, and soft fruits like strawberries.
Some tomato varieties will begin to ripen and provide fruit this month. Keep your plants healthy by providing them with plenty of sun and water. Tomatoes require at least 8 hours of continuous sun a day, so finding a bright enough spot will be your main challenge. You will also need to fertilize often with low nitrogen, organic fertilizer like EB Stone Tomato & Vegetable Food. Keep your plants pruned to 2-4 main stems, which will promote faster ripening. It is also suggested that you use trellises and cages to allow for proper air-circulation around your plants, which will decrease the risk of fungus and disease.
Now is the time to plant pumpkins and squash for fall and winter harvest. We have many rare and unusual varieties to choose from! Many autumn and winter crops should be sowed this month. You can also extend your harvest into July and August by sowing chives, garlic, cucumbers, lettuce and snap beans this month.
Outside Plants and Flowers:
Now is a good time to plant flowers for color in late summer and early autumn. Sunflowers are always a favorite in the PNW, and seeds sowed now will provide beautiful color in the fall.
Consider replacing spring flowers with zinnias, impatiens, dahlias, lantana, portulaca, and/or perennial salvias, echinacea (cone flower), lavender, crococmia, rudbeckia, geraniums and gaura. Pick heat-loving plants to provide color through the heat of summer.
Roses are a PNW favorite, and are coming into bloom this month. Watch for signs of disease and pests, water deeply and regularly, and be sure you are feeding them with EB Stone Rose & Flower Food. We love the David Austin variety of roses because of their amazing scent and flower form. If you are looking for more information on growing roses, you should check out this video created by the folks over at David Austin, which provides some excellent tips for selecting and caring for your roses.
By mid-june, night temperatures are generally warm enough to let your indoor plants go on vacation outdoors in a shady area. These tropical plants thrive outside in our warm summer temperatures with natural breezes. You may need to water more frequently since there is greater air circulation and hotter extremes than indoors, but they will love you for letting them out in the wild.
Trees and Shrubs:
In May, we suggested you trim azaleas and rhodies as they finish flowering. If you haven’t already done so, this should be done as soon as possible to allow new bud growth to form for the next season.Watch your fruit trees this month for signs of pests. As the temperatures warm, cherry fruit flies, codling moths, and apple worms may begin to damage your crop. If you've had problems in the past, be proactive with traps or come purchase beneficial insects that like to feed on these pests.