June is the month to look ahead to the fruit harvest. Peaches and apricots–the early producers–should be thinned by now and many have already come to harvest. Apples, pears, and plums–like the ones above–need your attention now and should be gradually thinned during June.
Fruit trees commonly produce many more fruitlets than they can bear. When you set out to thin your fruit trees, one fruit per spur, or two at the most, is a good guide. But don’t rush to thin your fruit trees, work with nature. The natural fruit fall for apples, pears and plums will come later this month and in July. If your trees are heavy laden, go ahead and thin a few fruits now. Start with fruits that are less than marble-sized, discolored or misshapen. Then wait to see which fruits nature drops and do additional thinning after if necessary.
Melons should also get your attention in June. The growing point of melons should be pinched out now and melon plants should be limited to four side shoots each. Make sure the shoots you choose are spread out in opposite directions. When each side shoot has produced five leaves, pinch out the growing tip for that shoot. Soon you will have sub-laterals and flowers.
If you want to make sure your melon harvest is full later this summer, look in June for the flowers with a tiny bulge on the stalk right behind the petals–these are the female flowers. On a sunny day, take male flowers, remove their petals and brush them against the knob-like stigmas of the female flowers. When the fruits begin to swell, choose one fruit for each of the four side shoots–that is four melons per plant, and remove the others.
Summer weather conditions will prevail in all growing regions during June. Here is a kitchen garden guide for growing zones 2-11 for the month of June:
Harvest. Lift early potatoes. Finish cutting asparagus by the middle of the month if you haven’t stopped already. Start picking herbs for using fresh and for freezing or drying.
Succession planting. Make succession sowings of green beans, beets, carrots, endive, kohlrabi, lettuces, radishes, and turnips. Make second plantings of bush beans, cucumbers, and sweet corn if you live in a long season region, growing zones 8-11. Replace spring peas, lettuce, and potatoes with field peas, limas, or other warm-weather crops or plant a summer cover crop of soybeans to help renew the soil.
Sow seeds. Crops that can be sown by seed in June include lima beans, snap and shell beans, beets, main crop carrots, cucumbers, Florence fennel, kohlrabi, New Zealand spinach, summer bunching onions, parsnips, peas, winter potatoes, pumpkins, salsify, and summer and winter squashes. Fall or cool-season crop seeds that can be sown in June include broccoli, cauliflower, winter cabbage, and leeks.
Set out seedlings. Transplant out warm-weather seedlings such as bush, runner, and pole beans, French beans, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, pumpkins, tomatoes, and summer and winter squashes. Plant seed potatoes. Eggplant, pepper, and tomato seedlings are best transplanted into the garden after they have reached 4 to 5 inches (10-12 cm) tall. Nights should be consistently above 55ºF , otherwise their blossoms will drop.
Tomatoes. Plant outdoor tomatoes providing stakes or cages for all but bush varieties. Tie them gently, but firmly, to stakes to secure them. Water thoroughly and pinch back new growth of tomatoes to ensure a good crop later.
Herbs. Sow chervil and dill, and thin out herb seedlings. Take cuttings from rosemary and sage if not done last month. Water the herb garden freely during dry weather, although most herbs can survive droughts.
Fall garden. Direct-sow now crops for harvest during the cool fall weather: beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, winter cabbages, cauliflower, self-blanching celery, chicory, peas, and rutabaga. Ready a bed for fall greens like lettuce and spinach. Cultivate the soil and add organic matter.
Watering. Water transplants every day until they are well established. Pay close attention to tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons, zucchini, cucumbers, and squashes; they need regular water when flowering and until their fruits fill out. Don’t over water beans and peas until they have flowered; then keep them moist. Lettuce, spinach, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflower do best when watered regularly.
Pests. Protect summer squash from cucumber beetles while plants are young by covering the plants with horticultural fabric. Watch out for aphids on broad beans and root flies on cabbages, carrots and onions. Handpick Colorado potato beetles and other pests. Water plants in the morning so they don’t become susceptible to fungus and insect infestation. Mulch when seedlings are several inches high to keep down and limit weeds. Solarize pests and diseases in vacant beds by wetting the soil, then covering it with clear plastic for about a month.
Berries. Harvest blackberries and blueberries. Protect bush and cane fruits from birds with fine netting or wire cages.
Cut fruit-bearing raspberry and blackberry canes, and other brambles back to ground after harvest. Cut new shoots back to about 2 feet. Tie new canes to support wires, allowing a maximum of eight canes per plant. New shoots are soft and easily damaged. Summer-prune gooseberries by cutting back side-shoots to five leaves.
Continue to harvest strawberries. Cover ripening berries with netting to protect from birds. Remove runners from young strawberry plants. Peg down strawberry runners from established plants to create new plants.
Tree fruit. Prop up fruit-laden branches to prevent breakage and harvest fruit, such as cherries, when ready. Thin apples, peaches, pears, and plums. Mulch and water deeply fruit trees if the weather is dry. Check stakes and ties. Keep down weeds.
Watch for signs of pests and disease. Prune wood damaged by fire blight. Hang coddling moth traps on apple trees. Spray against apple scab, mildew, and aphids. Trap larvae on tree trunks and destroy.
Fertilize citrus and tropical fruit. Prune litchi, mangoes, and other tropical fruits after the harvest this month.
Greenhouse. Water and feed greenhouse grown tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, never letting the soil dry out. Continue to tie in tomato plants and pinch out side shoots. Attach slings or nets to melons as they swell. Feed greenhouse plants regularly. Use biological pest controls for greenhouse pests.
Containers. Many summer vegetables and herbs can be grown in containers. Water container plants as needed, daily during hot, dry weather. Set supports for melons and tomatoes in containers. Feed plants in containers regularly, unless slow-release fertilizer granules were incorporated before planting. Use a liquid fertilizer such as compost tea. Turn hanging baskets regularly so that the plants develop evenly on all sides of the basket. Watch for pests and signs of disease.