Jobs For June

Some handy tips for the month ahead...

Top Tip - Make more plants

Now is the perfect time to take softwood cuttings of many shrubs, including lavender, fuchsia, philadelphus and forsythia. Collect healthy shoots from the tips of plants and make 5-10cm long cuttings - slice through the stem below a pair of leaves and remove the lower set of leaves. Push into a small pot filled with cutting compost and place in a windowsill propagator until rooted.

Beds and borders

• For masses of fragrant wallflowers, sweet Williams and Canterbury bells next spring and summer, start sowing seed now. These plants are biennials, which will make lots of leaf this year and flower the next.
• Prevent the spent flower heads of lupins, delphiniums and other early flowering perennials turning to seed by cutting them back to a set of leaves with secateurs. Apart from leaving tidier plants, this will encourage a second flush of flowers in late summer.
• Tie up the stems of sweetpeas. Plants are growing fast and a strong gust of wind or heavy downpour can quickly damage stems that will carry the heavily scented flowers. Secure to supports every 4in with garden twine.
• Sow seeds of winter pansies in trays, cover with vermiculite and place in an unheated propagator. Plant out into their flowering positions in autumn for bags of colour later in the year.
• Water newly planted trees and shrubs regularly to prevent a check to growth.
• Rejuvenate congested clumps of bearded iris. After flowering, carefully lift with a fork and divide the rhizome with a knife to make lots of new pieces – cut the fan of leaves at an angle, 6in from the root, and replant the pieces 6in apart.
• Check hollyhocks for disfiguring rust disease. If the upper sides of leaves are discoloured and the undersides dotted with tiny orange, raised lumps, then take action. First, pick off the worst affected leaves and then spray the plants with a suitable fungicide.
• Remove suckers from the base of trees and roses. These vigorous shoots grow from the roots or underground stems and can eventually take over the plant. Snap them off with your fingers or snip them back with secateurs as close to their point of origin as possible.
• Prune deutzia and other shrubs that flowered in May as blooms fade.

Plants in pots

• Feed fuchsias, morning glory, petunias and any other flowering pot plants with fertiliser once a week to boost flowering. Start to feed once you notice flower buds forming and continue until the plants run out of steam in early autumn. Use a high potash liquid tomato feed.
• Give tuberous begonias a boost by removing female flower buds to allow the plant to put all of its energy into producing attractive male flowers. You can recognise female flowers easily – the blooms are single, smaller and less showy.
• Keep hanging baskets in tip top condition by watering two or three times a week and feeding regularly. At the same time, deadhead plants to remove any fading blooms.

In the kitchen garden

• Dot a few French marigolds around tomato plants - these strongly scented flowers will help deter insect pests.
• Cut out the central flowering stem of rhubarb to allow plants to carry on producing juicy stems as long as possible and to ensure a great crop next year.
• Stop cutting stems of asparagus and feed plants with a general purpose fertiliser to boost next year’s crop.
• Don’t allow black, red or white currants to dry out during warm weather or your crop will be spoilt. Water every seven days, depending on the weather - water plants in pots before the compost dries out.
• Pinch out the tops of runner beans when they reach the top of their supports to encourage side-shoots to grow.
• Carrots are a magnet to carrot fly, a pernicious pest whose maggots bore holes in the developing vegetable leading to rotting. To ensure your crop is not wiped out, cover it with a sheet of fine woven mesh netting.
• For the best aubergines, cut off side shoots and remove any remaining flowers after five fruits have formed.
• Tidy up early fruiting strawberries. After you’ve picked the last fruit, cut back foliage to about 2in, exposing fresh leaves. Give plants a boost with a general purpose fertiliser.
• Feed cucumbers, chilli peppers, sweet peppers and aubergines twice a week with a high potash fertiliser as fruits start to swell.
• Apple crops can be ruined by codling moth caterpillars tunnelling through fruit. Reduce damage by hanging pheromone traps in trees to lure male moths to their fate.
• Protect fruit bushes from birds by covering with netting.

Don't forget...

• Hand pick annual weeds such as hairy bittercress, groundsel and chickweed before any problem gets out of hand. Use a Dutch hoe if borders are heavily infested with these problem plants.
• Keep the surface of ponds clean by removing floating weeds. Use a net to scoop out mats of tiny-leaved duck weed and twirl hair-like blanket weed from the surface with a stick or garden cane – before putting on the compost heap, leave on the edge of the pond overnight so any aquatic creatures can crawl back into the water.

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