June is here and both herbs and vegetables are really enjoying the fact that it is feeling like summer may be coming at last. This month I’m excited to be sowing Dwarf French, Basil and Courgettes.

How to sow Dwarf French

Quite simply, their taste and texture is SO good when they’re freshly harvested from your garden or allotment You can still sow in June, its easy to make successional sowings

throughout June and into mid-July to achieve plants which will crop in about twelve week’s time. The key really is to sow smaller quantities every couple of weeks, so ensuring you have a constant supply of top-quality and heavy-cropping plants. Sow direct into a well-prepared soil, placing each seed 4-5cm deep and about 15cm apart.

How to sow Basil

Fresh basil, torn, chopped or even as whole leaves scattered on the surface of a salad or pizza, can transform even a quick and uninteresting meal into some far more special. I suggest making successional sowings in 15cm pots, that way you should get a constant supply of this delicious and versatile herb, lasting you well into the autumn.

Sow the seed thinly on the surface of some good-quality, gently-firmed and levelled compost, cover with vermiculite and you’re nearly done. Watering from the base at this stage prevents the seeds being washed into clumps, so you get better spaced plants within each pot. Cover the pots with belle cloches or just make sure the surface never quite dries out.

How to sow Courgettes

If you sow some courgette seeds promptly this month, you’ll still get a really good crop. If you think you don’t like eating courgettes, it may be because you’ve only ever eaten the supermarket version – often a bit tasteless and ‘pappy’, sometimes with a distinctly bitter kick too! Sow a few seed now and you may soon be converted. At this time of year, the seed can either go direct into the well-manured

garden soil, or into small individual pots to be transplanted into individual good-sized containers once they have a couple of leaves.

Sow each seed on its long edge, about 1cm deep in good-quality compost, cover with fleece, a Seedling Tunnel or a small bell-cloche, keep just moist and you should be getting a crop in six or seven weeks.

Weed Watch in June

This month watch out for weeds which always seem to grow more strongly than quick growing vegetables. Weed competition for water, nutrients and light can be pretty stifling, especially if you’re a small, recently-planted out garden plant.  So, whether you are growing vegetables in raised beds or vegetable grow bags or even flowers in a border, grab a hoe and start decapitating those annual weeds.  An early start means you can catch them before they swamp your garden plants and before they have chance to set seed too.

Weeding is one of those gardening maintenance jobs that just has to be done. I choose a warm day and use my trusty Speedhoe as its cleverly shaped and angled head means that it is great for getting the weeds hoed between plants and not hoeing the garden plants by mistake. You don't even need to pick the weeds up after hoeing.  Left on the soil surface in the sun, the weeds die off quickly.

How to protect plants & veg from pests

Now it is time to put serious thought into protection for plants.  There are lots of things out there that would like to eat them including White Fly, slugs, snails birds and squirrels.

What is Whitefly?

Whitefly can be a real menace in greenhouses and frames.  They are the one thing that makes the even the easiest vegetables to grow, a little harder!  Whitefly are just starting to appear more widely now that the weather is warmer. These little sap-feeding pests look rather like tiny white moths and if you’ve let their numbers build up you may see a small cloud of them rise up as you disturb a plant.

Whitefly feeding weakens the plant and their sticky excreta (commonly known as honeydew) lands on plants and surfaces, soon attracting black sooty mould fungi. These black fungi are harmless to the plant but look awful and don’t exactly make any crops they cover look appetising! Sometimes the whitefly may also spread virus infections and the consequences can be even more serious.

Try introducing miniature wasps called Encarsia formosa into infestations in greenhouses, frames and conservatories. These seek out the young stages of the whitefly and parasitise them. Each then dies, so no new whitefly will hatch.  Brilliant control, no chemical residues AND perfectly safe for humans, wildlife and pets!

How to deal with slugs & snails

Strawberries are starting to ripen this month so make sure you keep a watch for invaders. I use nematodes for protecting strawberry plants from slugs and snails.  By applying them just before the fruits start to ripen you can avoid most of the potential slug damage. Make sure you keep the soil or compost just moist after application, so that the nematodes can continue to move around and seek out the slugs.

You can find out more and purchase the biocontrols here. 

How to deal with birds & pesky squirrels

If you find the birds (or squirrels) are getting more of the crop than you, then you could also try covering the rows with green Easy Net Tunnels. I find that these let

through plenty of light for good ripening but as the plants and the nearly-red fruits are masked from view, many furry and feathered critters simply don’t realise they are there. The tunnels are so easy to install and to re-install after weeding or harvesting too. And if you are wondering how to protect plants from a heat wave (!) these will help here too as they are the only tunnels on the market with shade netting.  

Just make sure that you don’t totally seal out pollinators. Either wait until most of the flowers have already been pollinated to fit your tunnel. Or open the toggle ends during the day to allow them in.  

So, these are my gardening tips to sow in June - I hope you are really enjoying your garden now that the weather is finally doing what it is supposed to for the time of year! 

If you enjoyed this Pippa Greenwood blog then check out her What to sow in May blog too. where she focuses on tomatoes.