June’s To-Do List for Busy Gardeners

A column by Jane Ford

Fort Wayne News-Sentinel

This is great gardening weather, but the cool nights and cooler-than-normal days are causing some of our warm-weather annual flowers and vegetables to grow very slowly. I’m sure that will change soon, and we’ll see tomatoes and peppers forming on the vines.

I’ve listed things to do in June around the house and garden:

Spring-flowering shrubs can be pruned after the blooms are gone.

Apply fungicide to prevent and control black spot on roses, and clean up all signs of the disease and throw that in the trash. Disinfect pruners.

Water well new trees and shrubs every seven to 10 days when there is little or no rain.

Use stem tip cuttings to propagate deciduous shrubs, such as forsythia and lilac.

Remove faded flowers and seed pods on lilac and other spring-flowering shrubs.

June tree fruit drop is not unusual. The tree does a natural thinning on its own. You may also need to thin more or prop up the heavy branches to keep the limbs from breaking. Most fruit should be spaced 6 to 8 inches apart on a branch.

Keep grass mowed regularly even if it is growing very slowly. Mow high to help protect the crown of the plant from heat stress. Water deeply once a week when there is no rain, about 1-1.5 inches of water.

Leave grass clippings on the lawn unless it is overgrown. This is a natural way to add nutrients back to the soil.

In mid-June, stop harvesting asparagus and rhubarb. Allow the foliage to grow, which is the plants’ way of storing food reserves for the next season. Fertilize and water as necessary.

Be creative when thinking about mulch and use products you may have around your home, such as straw, chopped corncobs, bark chips, shredded paper and grass clippings. Using these things will nourish the soil your plants are growing in as well as helping to control moisture and weeds.

If you are growing cauliflower, blanch when heads are just 2 inches in diameter. To do this, tie leaves up and over the developing head.

Consistently pull weeds and they will be easier to control.

Begin to prepare for the fall garden by starting seeds of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower to be transplanted in late summer.

If you are planning on growing pumpkins for Halloween, purchase seed that gives the harvest time needed on the seed packet. Count backward so you will know the proper date to begin planting. Books and articles on how to grow pumpkins successfully can be a great help. Here are some excellent tips from the DIY website:  www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-grow- pumpkins/index.html.

When hot summer weather arrives and your cool-season plants begin to form seed stalks, it is time to remove them and prepare to plant warm-season vegetables.

Be sure to remove buds of chrysanthemums, impatiens, petunias and coleus to promote bushier growth.

Let the tops of spring-flowering bulbs continue until they have yellowed and withered.

Continue to pick strawberries. This will cause them to keep on producing.

Using netting over the strawberry bed will protect ripening strawberries from birds.

And last but not least, give natural rainfall (if it is light), a helping hand by supplying a total of 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week to the garden.