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To-Do List - June
by Karen Bodner, MG
As far as sowing veggie seeds, anything goes. Well, almost anything. Other than tomatoes and peppers, you can sow anything outside, or inside for that matter. There are also several fall and winter crops to sow now for transplanting in August and September.
Sow throughout the month: fall and winter cabbage, autumn cauliflower, carrots, and parsnips.
Sow in second half of month: fall and spouting broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and Swiss chard. A hot weather reminder that temperatures much over 85o render lettuce seed dormant, so sow inside or use your MG ingenuity and shade the bed somehow. I'm sure a layer of vermiculite will help too. A gardener in Calif. I've chatted with on an Internet gardening forum freezes her lettuce and coriander seeds in ice cubes and plants them out in hot weather. Cool idea, eh?-definitely worth a try!
Mulching beans and peas with a cool mulch will reduce stress and minimize blossom drop since they are sensitive to lack of moisture and hot roots. Thin your onions and miscellaneous greens, and use the thinnings in salads. Don't dismay when you see your first cuke or squash blossoms drop; they are usually males and simply can't function without the females. Who says females don't have any power? Treat your veggies to a bi-weekly foliar feeding or root drench of diluted fish emulsion and a once-monthly foliar feeding of fish, compost tea, or worm juice and kelp-makes such a difference.
Seed heads may start appearing on your garlic plants. For larger clove production cut them off as soon as noticed. In addition to being edible, the stalks and flowers look great in flower arrangements and keep growing vertically even after being cut. The beginning flower stalks are great eating too. Your garlic has started to bulb up, so excessive watering or rain will erode the paper-like sheaths that surround the head, resulting in the dreaded "naked bulb." Protect if necessary.
Flowers, herbs, and bulbs
First of all, let me correct myself. Last month I was all excited about the growth on my Encanthus spinosa (bear's breeches). Well, that should be Acanthus spinosa; it's weird how a word gets muddled in your head and sticks. It never hurts to double check yourself once in a while.
I noticed today how the seemingly odd combination of orange and purple become beautiful when combined in the purple Centaurea (bachelor button) and the neon orange bracts of Euphorbia griffithii.
Container planters are notorious for drying out quickly and should be checked daily in hot weather. A one-inch organic mulch on potted plants will cool them and retain moisture. Better yet, plant a living mulch of ground cover in the pots to solve both water and weed problems.
Houseplants should be brought outside after hardening off and repotted if necessary.
Cut back old Pulmonaria leaves to revitalize and prevent disease. Deadhead other blooming perennials for more vigorous and continuous bloom. Fertilize new plants about a month after transplanting and also established perennials. Plant out tender perennials if you've been holding back. Start annuals like poppies, sweet alyssum, and so forth for late-season bloom.
Many hardy perennials can be sown directly outside this month in small nursery plots or drills for permanent placement between September and March: Aquilegia, Centaurea, Chrysanthemum, Delphinium, Eupatorium, Iberis, Linaria, Oenothera, Papaver, Penstemon, Salvia, Scabiosa and Verbascum are a few of the more popular. Digitalis is another one to sow now for next year's bloom since it often dies after blooming. Pull brown leaves from spring bulbs and mark the spot. Liz Lair recommends cutting delphinium stalks back after bloom for a second flowering.
Vegetative propagation: Take semi-mature cuttings from alyssum. Take basal cuttings from Ajuga, Achillea, Artemisia, Dianthus, Geranium, Sedum, Stachys, and Thymus. Divide Ajuga, Artemisia, Lewisia, Gentiana and Sisryrinchium.
Fruits and nuts
Remember to remove flowers on newly planted everbearing strawberries through this month; remove runners throughout the first year. Many trees will drop excess fruit this month after which you should thin by hand to prevent limb damage and to promote larger fruits. On apples, the blossom in the middle is called the king bloom and will usually produce the largest fruit. On biennial-bearing apples, thin out every other fruit to avoid feast-or-famine production. Some cultivars will tolerate more than one fruit per spur but short-stemmed varieties like Gravenstein and red cultivars should be thinned to one fruit per spur.
On Asian pears, retain the blossom in the middle of the cluster, counted from the base of the cluster. Peaches, if you actually get them, should be thinned to four to six inches apart. I solved the cedar rust problem on my pear tree simply by diligently plucking off offending leaves and was rewarded with perfect pears, so if you didn't get around to spraying, get picking.
Now is the time to save time on winter pruning. Rubbing suckers and water sprouts off your fruit trees now will greatly reduce winter maintenance. Spray cherries this month for brown rot blossom blight and cherry fruit fly. Spray for codling moth if need is indicated by pheromone traps. Also spray for scab in apple and pear trees during the first and last week of the month. Check your spray schedule for other applications.
Trees and shrubs
Continue to plant new trees and shrubs and keep them well-watered (every seven to ten days). When deadheading or cutting fresh roses, cut about one-quarter inch above a set of five leaves, making sure the direction of the node points in the right direction for regrowth. I'm experimenting with horizontal training of roses and my rose tower is looking way cool! I have a rose that attempts to climb to heaven every year. So, last year I cut a piece of concrete reinforcing wire long enough to make a three-foot diameter column when rolled and closed. I placed it over the crown after I cut the plant back. Then I took several of last year's stems that had grown through at various levels and trained them in spirals, around and up. All of the new growth is growing straight up and the American Horticultural Society assures me that each one will bloom. I hope it works; it will be a stunning sight.
Vegetative propagation: Take tip cuttings from Cotinus, Davidia, Magnolia and Syringa. Take semi-mature cuttings from Actinidia, Buddleia, Camellia, Choisya, Clematis, Daphne, Euonymus, Forsythia, Fuchsia, Iberis, Lysimachia, Nandina, Phlox, Spirea, Verbascum, Weigela, and Wisteria.
Start building trellises for beans, tomatoes, and other plants that need support. Going vertical with vigorous vining plants such as cucumbers and squash will save an amazing amount of space, and the larger fruits can be supported in numerous ways. Save those nylons, ladies! Concrete reinforcing wire is my absolute all-purpose favorite. First I use it as a horizontal support for plastic or Reemay while little plants get going; then I take it vertical and start training the plant inside. I usually use a T-post or tall wooden stake to support the wire column.
A rain gauge is valuable for determining need for irrigation; don't forget to water deeply when you do water. Even though I can hear the grass growing behind me as I mow it, you should still fertilize to enhance summer growth, and water in well if it doesn't rain.
If you have extra beds or are saving space for your August/September-planted winter garden transplants, sow a quick-growing cover crop such as clover or buckwheat for a month or two. When designing your garden, try to include permanent island beds to serve as hang outs for beneficial insects like rove and ground beetles.
Have you tried intensive gardening or interplanting a bed yet? I noticed that our new MG manual has some great charts on pages 147 and 148 with information that will make it easy for even the newest gardener. Of course, there are lots of charts and folklore to support companion planting as well. Keep records so you can share with the rest of us your successes or failures.
With the soil finally warming up, June is an excellent month to apply entomopathogenic nematodes (aka predatory nematodes) for control of soil-dwelling larva and other soft-bodied insects. They have a broad host range; their impact on non-target organisms is minimal, and they are harmless to the environment. A mix of both Steinernematidae and Heterohabditidae is best as the former stays relatively close to the surface of the soil and the latter ventures deeper in search of prey.
Infection is initiated by third-stage infective juveniles who may remain for prolonged periods of time in soil. After entering the insect host, they release two symbiotic bacteria that multiply and feed their development through the adult stage. At this point, the adults lay eggs in the now dead host. They hatch and escape into the soil to carry on the battle.
Proper application and timing are very important for good results. Soil temperature must be over 55 degrees, and the nematodes should be added to large quantities of water and applied to moist soil in the evening. Needless to say, you need to apply during the most susceptible stage of the pest; see the list below.
This is Oscar awards month in the insect entertainment world; everyone who is anyone will be out. I was surprised to come upon a small rove beetle nymph trying to drag a fairly large worm away. The battle had just begun, so I was able to save the poor worm. Slugs are still on their egg laying hiatus, so be ruthless with the adults now.
As with plants, the insect world is on its own schedule. This means that the appearance and disappearance of different stages may vary. I have, therefore, added new symbols to the key. If the stage is underlined (e.g., E or L ) it means that, depending upon conditions, that stage may appear Early or stick around Late. I've also added the term OG to indicate Overlapping Generations where different levels of maturity occur at the same time within a stage (e.g., younger nymphs with older nymphs). Anyway, here are our early summer insect stars and villains.
A =Adult; E =Egg; P =Pupa; L =Larva; N =Nymph
Beneficials are italicized.
Underlined stage indicates extended season.
OG indicates overlapping generations
western damsel bug-A/E/N
big-eyed bug-A/E/N (OG)
minute pirate bug-A/E/N (OG)
green lacewing-A/E/L/P (OG)
syrphid fly- A /P/L/E
tachinid parasite- A/ E/L
wasp parasite- A/ E/L/P (OG)
predator mite-A/ E/ N
honey bees-A/E/L/P (OG)
alfalfa leafcutting bee-A/E/L/P
predatory nematodes-Infective Juveniles/A
onion thrips-A/E/N (OG)
beet leafhopper-A/E/N (OG)
carrot rust fly-A/E/L
green peach aphid-A/N (OG)
wireworm beetle-E/L/P (OG)
western cherry fruit fly-A/E/L
peach twig borer-A/E/L/P
apple aphids-A/N (OG)
corn earworm-A/E/L (OG)
imported cabbageworm-A/E/L (OG)
cabbage looper (nocturnal adult)-A/E/L/P
cabbage maggot-A/E/L/P (OG)
cabbage aphid-A/N (OG)
cabbage flea beetle-E/L
pear psylla-A/E/N (OG)
spider mites-A/E/N (many OG)
elm leaf beetle-E/L/P
bean aphids-A/N (OG)
stink bugs-A/E/N (OG)
pea aphid-A/N (OG)
western flower thrips-A/E/N (OG)
onion maggots-A/E/L/P (OG)
raspberry crown borer-L (2 yrs)
strawberry and currant aphid-A/N (OG)
holly and soft scale-A/E/N
strawberry crown moth-A/E/L/P
western raspberry fruitworm-E/L/P
slugs-A & young
walnut husk fly-P
seedcorn maggot-A/E/L/P (OG)
western potato flea beetle-A/E/L/P
spinach and fruit leafminer-A/E/L/P (OG)