June, Summer Solstice, the Magic Happens!
March and April plantings are paying off handsomely now as we have warmer and the longest days of the year! Harvests are coming in, tomatoes on their way! Pick beans when your plants are dry to prevent spreading rust and mildew.
Plant more rounds of your heat lovers - seeds or transplants – basil with tomatoes, peppers and eggplant best from transplants, corn, beans, cucumbers, okra, zucchini. Put in more melons, and some winter squash only if you are in the hot foothills. Late plantings will often ‘catch up’ since they have more heat, longer hours of sunshine. Plant another round of radishes to repel cucumber beetles from cukes and zukes, and as a trap plant for flea beetles on eggplant. For fall toms, put in seeds now, transplants in July. Pop in some more year-rounds: beets, carrots, chard, bunch onions, turnips, fragrant herbs. Remember, plant seeds and transplants of the same plant at the same time to get continuous crops! And mix things up to confuse pests and prevent disease spread. Some here, some there….
Strawberries want to make runners in June! Instead, clip off the daughters, give your strawberries a quick uptake 0-10-10 type fertilizer, high in Potassium and Phosphorus, P & K, to keep them flowering and producing. Plenty of time to get daughters in October. Keep your strawberries wet! If they dry they stop fruiting.
If you planted garlic in November, now is harvest time! Dig down, see how the little guys are doing. If they are fat enough for you, stop watering for a couple weeks, and harvest! If not, we did have a cool spring, let them grow a bit more….
- When you harvest garlic, dig, don’t pull.
- Be gentle. Freshly dug garlic bulbs will bruise easily and it is easy to accidentally slice a bulb open while digging if you are not careful. When harvesting garlic, lift each bulb individually from the ground. Place it in a container where it will not get jostled too much.
- Get the garlic out of the sun as soon as possible. Garlic will blanch and burn in the sun. Put the freshly dug unwashed bulbs in a dark, dry place as soon as possible.
- Allow garlic to cure in a warm, shaded area where there is plenty of air circulation. When garlic has cured, about three weeks for warm inland areas, six weeks or more on the foggy coast, trim off roots and cut necks to one-half inch length.
Time to feed your hardworking plants! Feed them as they start to flower, and while they are producing fruits. Leaf producers like lettuces, kales and chard need a little chicken manure scratched in. Pretend you are a chicken! If you lay in too much Nitrogen, put on some Sea Bird quano high in Phosphorus, to bring blooms as well as leaves. In fact, once your plant starts flowering, you can put some fertilizer on that is higher in Phosphorus to keep them going!
If you laid straw under your tomatoes or along your cucumbers, to keep soil with the wilts fungi from splashing on them, replenish it, make it a bit deeper as your plant gets bigger. Mulch crops that don’t need that much heat, but enjoy moist feet. Plant moisture lovers more densely in summer so they can make a living mulch for each other.
WATER! Be sure your babies have plenty to drink. To be sure things are good, poke your finger in the ground AFTER you water. You will be amazed how the watering you did may not have wet more than a 1/4″ to 1/2″ deep. Your plants’ roots are deeper than that. They can be dying of thirst when things look prettily wet. Regular water is best. Cucumbers especially need that. Their fruit is practically all water, so guess where that water is going! Tomatoes are picky. Too much or too little and they are unhappy. Experience is going to be your best teacher. If you succession plant, you have more chances of learning in the same season.
Clean up and deadhead! Trim away any damaged, diseased, or done parts, remove sick plants or ones that are not thriving, or step up your attention to them. Put in plants instead of letting weeds grow and use up your soil. Beauty be.