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Nature blog - Jenny Bourne

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The RPA Nature blog with Jenny Bourne.

Watch the seasons unfold right here at our very own allotments

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June is one of the busiest months of the year. The days will be lengthening and the temperatures rising, and everything on the allotment will be growing energetically – not least the weeds. Most likely, you’ll feel that the whole plot is insistently demanding your attention. June can be a surprisingly dry month, too, so there may be a lot of watering to do in order to keep your newly planted seedlings growing healthily.

Weed

Like most plants, weeds put on a growth spurt in June. Dig out any perennial weeds, such as dandelions and creeping buttercup, that you’ve overlooked in the preceding months. Then hoe regularly, especially on dry days, to prevent annual weeds competing for moisture with new, young plants.

Water

Most seeds and seedlings need regular watering if they are to germinate and develop successfully. Plants are better able to take up moisture if you water little and often than if you drown them just once a week.

Frequent watering encourages strong, healthy growth and an ability to withstand disease.

Frequent watering encourages strong, healthy growth and an ability to withstand disease.

Mulch

Continue to spread mulches such as garden compost, well-rotted manure, mushroom compost, and bark chips. They will help to suppress weeds and, if the underlying earth is damp before you apply them, they will also delay evaporation.

A thick layer of organic compost at the base of a redcurrant cordon.

A thick layer of organic compost at the base of a redcurrant cordon.

Nets

Ensure that peas, cabbages and other brassicas, and soft fruit are all securely netted against birds.

Pigeons adore pea tops and are likely to strip the foliage and pods from young plants unless you net them.

Pigeons adore pea tops and are likely to strip the foliage and pods from young plants unless you net them.

Feed tomatoes

As soon as tomatoes being grown under cover form their first tiny fruits, they will benefit from a weekly feed of high-potash fertilizer. Pinch out small side shoots that grow in the “V” between the leaf stems and the main stem.

Earth up potatoes

Even if you’ve already done this, it’s worth doing again. It will help ensure the tubers remain out of the light.

Summer-prune figs

Prune established fig trees this month by pinching out the tips of new shoots so that they each have only five leaves left.

Build supports for climbing beans

Use 2.5m (8ft) long canes and strong twine to construct rows or wigwams ready for beans to climb up. Make sure they are sturdy enough to support the heavy weight of the beans when they’re fully grown. Newly sown or transplanted seedlings can be protected with makeshift cloches or collars made from empty plastic bottles.

Beans will usually climb up bamboo canes without any encouragement. If they’re slow to get started, gently twist each plant around its cane and tie in loosely with string.

Beans will usually climb up bamboo canes without any encouragement. If they’re slow to get started, gently twist each plant around its cane and tie in loosely with string.

Cut down broad beans and peas

As soon as harvesting is over, cut plants down to just above the surface of the soil and compost them. But leave the roots in the ground, as they are rich in nitrogen.

Feed asparagus

Apply a general-purpose fertilizer now you’re no longer picking spears – but leave the plants to grow and don’t cut them down until they go brown in autumn.

Summer-prune herbs

Chop back herbs such mint, chives, sage, thyme, and lovage in order to remove tired old leaves and to stimulate the growth of fresh new ones.

Pot up strawberry runners

If your strawberry plants have finished producing fruit, either cut off any runners or use them to make new plants.

Summer-prune gooseberries, redcurrants, and whitecurrants

Prune bushes and cordons by cutting back to five leaves all this year’s new lateral shoots – although don’t touch any laterals you might want to develop into new branches next year. If summer pruning is done before harvesting it may encourage the fruit to swell.

Remove raspberry suckers

Any rogue suckers that sprout up at a distance from the base of the plants should be pulled out and composted.

Tie in blackberries and hybrid berries

New canes that grow up this year will not bear fruit, but they should be tied in securely this month and next. In the autumn the canes carrying this year’s fruit will be cut down, and the new ones will take their place for next year.

Thin out apples and pears

“June drop” usually takes place towards the end of the month. Apple trees (and to a lesser extent pears) naturally let fall a large number of tiny, embryo fruit as a way of automatically thinning out their crop. In a good year, however, you may have to thin them out still further in order to prevent overcrowding, to allow each fruit to grow to a good size, and to avoid branches breaking under the weight of too much fruit.

Twice thin plums, damsons, and gages

These stone fruit also need thinning in June. Thin once at the beginning of the month, leaving a gap of about 2.5cm (1in) between individual fruits, and then again at the end of the month to increase the final gap to about 7.5cm (3in).

Tie in and thin peaches, nectarines, and apricots

Tie in new shoots on wire-trained trees, and thin out fruit to about 15-20cm (6-8in) apart for peaches and nectarines and about 7.5cm (3in) apart for apricots.

Grape vines

Prune side shoots, and thin outdoor fruit grown for eating so that the remaining bunches can ripen easily and grow to a reasonable size.

Pest and disease watch

 

Vegetables

Asparagus beetles

Broad bean aphids

Blackfly

Cabbage white butterflies

Cabbage root fly

Carrot fly

Flea beetles

Grey mould

Pea moth

Pigeons

Slugs and snails

 

Fruit

American gooseberry mildew

Aphids

Birds

Bitter pit

Canker

Codling moth

Currant blister aphid

Grey mould

Pear leaf blister mite

Powdery mildew

Raspberry beetle

Sawfly

Scab

Scale insects

Slugs

Winter moth caterpillars

 

 

 

Text and photographs copyright © 2010 Alan Buckingham.

 

Allotment month by month by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Allotment Month by Month
(Dorling Kindersley, 2009)
Grow Vegetables by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Grow Vegetables
(Dorling Kindersley, 2007)
Grow Fruit by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Grow Fruit
(Dorling Kindersley, 2010)