What to do on your property in June?
What should I be doing in my garden in the month of June if I live in a subtropical climate (Zones 9-11)? This is the list for you!
Have you ever wondered what other organic urban gardeners are doing right now in their yards or on their properties? Well, here’s a little list to help you get started in on your property this month.
In the Garden
- Summers in Subtropics: Remember, this is the season that is like winter for most of the country. Many of our annual veggie gardens are going to sleep now and should be cover-cropped until the fall. Our best growing time for traditional garden veggies is essentially wrapping up. Although it “can be done”, it’s likely better to focus on the food forest than the annual vegetables during the hot summer months.
- Planting: Summer peas, okra, and sweet potato. You can also TRY and plant Seminole pumpkins now, but it’s a risk. It is also still a good time to plant sweet potatoes, ginger, and turmeric – but I would not wait until the end of the month.
Harvesting: This month, you can harvest the pumpkins and squash from this winter, green beans, and the last bit of the cucumbers. It’s also prime time for tropical greens! This last week, I was harvesting the Dwarf Everbearing Mulberry and making jams and syrups to can for later. I also tried a new pepper this year from “Seed the Stars” called a Dew Drop Pepper, and had wildly great results with them. Most of those were canned up this week, but they are still yielding like crazy. In fact, I have also used seeds from Seed the Stars for growing Seminole Pumpkins, Everglade Tomatoes, and butterfly pea as well.
Tropical spinaches: Some favorites (especially in Florida) are: longevity spinach, Okinawa spinach, Suriname spinach, and Brazilian spinach. Each o
Tomatoes: Most of the larger tomatoes are finishing up for the summer in the hot climates, so if you are wondering why they look so sad… that’s totally normal. The best (if not the only) tomato that does well in the summer in warmer climates is the Everglade tomato. It’s a gorgeous little cherry tomato that will fruit most of the summer and is very disease resistant. It’s excellent on salads, canned in salsa, or eaten fresh. As for your other tomatoes… let them go and focus on other things.
- Plant Cover Crops: One of the best cover crops in hot climates is called Sunn Hemp. It’s in the legume family (as opposed to the other hemp) and not only repairs nitrogen in the soil, but is also a massive biomass accumulator. If you plant it now, it will be 6-9′ tall before August, at which time it can be chopped and dropped or even buried and composted in place in the garden. For a FREE growing guide on Sunn Hemp, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Managing powdery mildew: In warmer tropical climates, this is the time of year when powdery mildew really starts getting wild. When you see the initial signs, spray immediately with neem spray (buy 100% need on Amazon and then dilute with water and some Basic H to emulsify). Spray in the early morning well before the heat of the day, preferably on an overcast day. Follow up in 2-3 days with a probiotic spray like BioAg by SCD Probiotics. Repeat the following week, if necessary. If this doesn’t help, it’s actually better to remove and burn the plants so it doesn’t spread. Remember, the spores will stay active in your soil, so it’s important to catch it early and remove / burn the spent plants.
Plant nasturtiums around the garden and in the food forest. They are a two-fold insectary plant. First, they will attract the good insect and pollinators, especially the braconid wasps (which defend against the bad guys). Secondly, they are an insect trap for aphids, so if you see your nasturtiums covered…. consider them a sacrificial crop to protect your veggies. In hot climates, they appreciate part shade in summer months and sun in the winter.
In the Greenhouse
- We are essentially finished with the “Greenhouse” season, but if you have a shade cloth, you can actually open up all the windows now and put the shade cloth over the top. This will allow you to start micro-greens and other tropical plants (like Vanilla beans and orchids). If using a shade cloth, you can also use the opened greenhouse for your indoor plants to give them a season outside. Just be sure to pay attention to your watering schedule.
- Clean and sterilize the plastic pots used this winter / spring. Stack and store them.
- Set mouse traps to control critters.
- Hang fly trap to control aphids, flies, and other pests.
In the Food Forest
- Compost and wood chips! In places like Florida, the rule of thumb is to fertilize (especially via compost or manure) every February, June, and September. This month, it’s highly encouraged to refresh your wood chips as well, which helps prevent soil sterilization during the hot sunny months. Some species (like Avocado, Citrus, and Mango) can have some compost this month, but organic fertilizers should wait until September when fruit are NOT on the branches. For a FREE planting guide for new fruit trees or how to layer mulch around existing trees, click here.
- Ground cherry seedlings (or Cape Codd Gooseberry) can go into the ground now. Plant them around the base of fruit trees to provide shade for the root systems, but allow enough light to get through to produce a harvest. These will often self-seed, so plant in an area where you are ok with them spreading. The taste of these berries is incredible, you will not regret planting them! Not to mention, they are packed with vitamin-C.
- Herbs around fruit trees: Woody and smelly herbs are great at two things: keeping pests away (deer and bad bugs) and attracting native bees for pollination. Wait, I lied… three things. They are also a great ground cover under the young fruit trees. Plant yarrow, bronze fennel, dill, oregano, thyme, chives, or garlic chives in clusters around the base of each fruit tree. Let them spread and grow wild.
- Harvest elderberry flowers: If you are making elderflower tinctures, teas, or wine – now is your time to harvest! Make the good stuff when flowers are at their peak.
- Apply late spring foliar spray, if you have not done so already. It’s also a good time to try and get some elderberry cuttings for propagation.
- Do NOT prune fruit trees! Never prune during the warmer months… wait until they go dormant. While the plant is sleeping, the sap slows down and the weather is often drier, which helps prevent bacterial and fungal infections.
Enjoy Flowers in bloom
Though this isn’t exactly the best time to plant native perennials, it’s a great time to enjoy the ones you started earlier. If you decide to plant anything this time of year, remember to check their water needs and mulch heavily. Never water until the soil has had the chance to try out for a day. If in doubt, finger check the soil down to your big knuckle.
In the Shed
- Now that your tools are up and running, give them a check over before the summer months hit. 1 – Check oil levels. 2 – Check air filters. 3 – Add a bit of Seafoam to the gas to help clean things out a bit.
- Make sure all outdoor tools and equipment are covered when not in use. In places like the South Eastern US, we are entering the rainy season and moisture is hard on equipment. If you cannot store them in a shed, make sure they are covered with a tarp when not in use.
- Set mouse traps and keep any animal feed sealed and contained.
- Make a tool cleaning bucket: Fill bucket with sharp play sand. Add oil motor oil, cheep cooking oils, etc until the sand is “damp”. Stab shovels, hoes, pitch forks in and out a few times to clean off dirt and give the metal a nice oiling to keep them from rusting after each use. Garden spades and trowels can be kept in the sand bucket when not in use. Obviously, do NOT put pruners or tools with gears in the sand.
In the Chicken Coop & Barn
- Chickens: Many folks who bought/hatched spring chickens are now free ranging their birds. They are not laying yet, so do NOT give them calcium. Stay on an organic grower feed until the first eggs arrive. My preference is a high protein feed with lots of seed varieties. Personally, prefer to mix and ferment my own feed. Here’s my recipe.
- Quail: It’s starting to get hot, to be sure to keep their water filled at all times. It helps (once a week) to add a tsp of apple cider vinegar to their waterer. It will keep them healthy and active. As you weed the garden, you can also give them an occasional worms and weeds for additional goodness in their diet. Their cooing and songs will be as nice of a reward as the healthy eggs they will produce.
- Deworm: Use 1 tablespoon of Basic H in a 5 gallon waterer (1 tsp per gal) for chickens. Add 1.5 cups to a 100gal waterer basin for cattle and horses. Available in bulk (much cheeper for farm use) This should be their only water source for two days.
- Disinfect: Use Basic H to clean coops, animal areas, waterers, feeders, etc. This is a great time to power wash the barn, shed, and garage as well.
Around the House
- Put out summer bird seed and feeders. This is an excellent way to help with insect control around the garden. For more information on bird seed selections and food forest benefits, watch this IGTV video.
- Keep South and West facing shades closed during the day time in order to block out the hot sun.
- Open up the windows (on cooler nights) to help air out the house and let in fresh air.
- Replace your AC air filters and clean out the vents with a shop vac.
- Power wash cement, walkways, sides of house, shutters, wood decks, and outdoor furniture.
- Clean outdoor windows and doors (I use Basic H for this).
- Apply UV protectant to your recreational vehicles (boats, car interiors, RV’s, decals, etc.)
In the Perennial Flower Beds
- Transplanting: Now is NOT the time to transplant, unless you see rain in the forecast for the next week.
- Compost! Now is the last chance to compost your perennial wildflowers before fall, so if you want to increase your summer blooms then go ahead and do that now. It’s also a great time to water using an organic fish emulsion / sea kelp blend. Your potted plants will REALLY appreciate this.
- Cut back mums: Yeah, go to town. Cut them back quite a bit. Leave only about 1/3 of the plant. You do NOT want this to develop buds yet, so if you see them forming again – give it a hair cut.
Comment below and let us know what YOU are doing this month in your garden.
Be sure to let us know your city / state so we know your growing region. Add any tips that you have learned, additional items that we’ve missed, and any wisdom and experience you can add to the mix. Happy gardening!
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