June marks the transition from spring to summer. The typical ‘June gloom’ overcast mornings that often occur in southern California provide one last chance to get the garden ready to weather the hot days of July, August and September. It’s also not too late to do some planting of veggies and flowers that will take the heat!
What to Do in the Garden in June:
Plant Flowering Perennials
Many flowering perennials are blooming now and that means that nurseries have a large selection. Purchase and plant this month so you know what you are getting. With the watering restrictions that are being implemented throughout California this year, consider choosing ‘water thrifty’ perennials. There are many that are colorful bloomers such as: lavender, verbena bonariensis, African daisy, Sundrops (calylophus drumondii), and many sages. For more choices and tips for creating a water thrifty garden, visit Be Water Wise.
Plant Warm Season Veggies
Continue to plant warm season veggies: tomatoes, peppers, green beans, squashes, cucumbers, and eggplant. It’s best to plant from transplants now, although beans, cucumbers and squashes could still be planted from seed. Also plant from seed those veggies we grow year round: carrots, radishes, green onion.
If you didn’t fertilize fruit trees and perennial plants in May, do so in June. Follow fertilizer package instructions for amount to use and how frequently to apply. Side dress (sprinkle fertilizer around plants or in between rows) in existing veggie beds to provide a supply of nutrients so they continue to produce. Do not use a fertilizer that is too high in nitrogen or you will get more green growth and less fruit.
Water and Mulch
Now is the time to check all irrigation systems and make sure they are working properly before it gets really hot! Consider switching to drip or soaker hoses to conserve water. If you are faced with significant water cuts by your water district due to the drought, allocate water to your trees and edibles. Trees are expensive to replace and take a long time to grow, so they are worth saving. And of course, we all need food, so water used to grow edibles is a worthwhile use.
Be sure to add mulch to all planted areas. A 3-4 inch layer of mulch will preserve moisture in the ground when you irrigate.
While we should all consider giving up our water thirsty lawns, June is not my favorite time to do so. The upcoming hot months will make it harder for new plants (even water thrifty plants) to get established. Better to wait until fall for removing lawns. In the meantime, raise your mower to its highest height. The taller the grass, the more it will shade the soil and keep it from drying out. Cycle your irrigation, which means short watering times of a couple of minutes and then wait an hour and do another short cycle. This way there is no run off and the water penetrates deeper into the soil.