Grow-How: Your June Gardening Checklist

by Isabel Vinton

June! How can you not love it? The weather (when it's not raining) is perfect, the birds and crickets are singing again, and in the garden, tiny seedlings are unfurling into beautiful young plants. Even though this is just the start and there are plenty of seeds to sow before the season is over, don't forget to take care of what you've already planted. Just as your young plants are photosynthesizing faster than ever, there's plenty of energy you can put into the garden right now. Harness all the potential June can offer by staying on top of the following tasks.

1. Transplant: If you haven't planted your indoor seedlings outdoors yet, now's the time--that is, as long as the threat of frost has passed where you are. Most seedlings have probably been in their trays for a while by now and are likely feeling starved of space, light, and nutrients. Even scrawny seedlings you're waiting on to bulk up will probably thrive when planted in a well-prepared bed. Read our transplanting guide for more.

2. Sow: It's time to start planning your succession sowing schedule. The best way to ensure a harvest all season is to keep sowing all season. Even though it feels like spring just got here, planning ahead for late summer and even fall will make sure you take advantage of all the space in your garden. And since every inch of garden space is precious, read more about how you can double your yield by filling in your garden gaps. Veggies like bush beans and radishes, herbs like basil and cilantro, and flowers like calendula and cosmos are space-efficient and easy to grow. Additionally, it might be time to plant some crops you may not have gotten around to yet, like corn or direct-sown summer squash. Wondering what to plant now? We have some suggestions.

3. Weed: Weeding, though tedious, is key to garden health. It ensures that your plants aren't competing for light, water, space, and nutrients. Try to start and maintain a steady weeding rhythm. For instance, do some light, surface hoeing once a week, or divide your garden into sections and hand weed in the same order through the season. The beginning or end of the day are best for weeding so you can stay out of the heat. If you're hand weeding, right after it rains is the ideal time, since weeds are easier to remove. However, if you're using tools that can get caked with mud, a drier day is better.

4. Water: Most plants ask for an inch of water per week. The easiest way to keep track of moisture levels is to invest in a rain gauge, so you can see whether Mother Nature is providing enough moisture herself or if you need to get involved. Whether you are watering by hand or have an irrigation system, just be sure to water as close to the roots as you can, and leave foliage dry if possible. Overhead watering increases the chance of fungal disease. Also, be mindful of your container garden: plants in pots tend to dry out much faster than those in the ground. Stick your finger a few inches into the soil. If it feels dry, it's time to water.

5. Prevent: Pests, that is. Keeping on top of weeds is actually one of the best natural strategies for pest control, as is eliminating other critter habitats, like old piles of wood or debris. If you need something a bit more on the defense, we find a treatment of soapy water can deter many pests, including aphids and cucumber beetles, and shallow pans of beer works for slugs. Removing pests by hand can also be effective for home gardeners. For more critter counsel, click here.

6. Trellis: Viny plants can be great producers and space savers if kept under control. But if not, they can quickly become a problem for other crops, themselves, and you. Pole beans, morning glory, tomatoes, and cucumbers are all examples of plants that might need trellising, and what that looks like varies depending on the plant in question. Stakes, lattices, string, fences, and cages can all provide support and guidance for exploratory tendrils. Here's a primer on trellising success.

7. Harvest: Even though enjoying the bounty of your garden is what you had in mind all along, it can be easy enough to forget to harvest altogether! Remember to take regular strolls through your garden. That way you can not only judge when your crops will be ready to gather, but also stay ahead of birds, bugs, and beasts, as well as pick off pests and flag any damage or disease.

In many ways, this is the most exciting time of the season--the anticipation, the new growth, the first greens and radishes--and hopefully, by employing a few of these handy tricks, it can be the least stressful, too!