Down to earth advice for Derbyshire’s Gardeners - June

Weeding in June, there's always some to be done. But it has to be done, if you let them get the upper hand you're lost. Remember "one year's seed is seven years weed" as the old saying goes, so try to get them before they flower and go to seed. Take heart, though, their numbers decrease as a bed matures and the seeds are exhausted.

When planting, water the new plant well, first (especially if in soil-less compost which is difficult to re-wet - plunge in a bucket of water for half-an-hour, if really dry). I always dig some compost into the base of the hole and add some bonemeal, this improves the soil and retains moisture. Water well after planting, take the rose off the watering can or use a bucket for larger plants and shrubs, so that you can 'puddle' them in. This helps to settle the plant by washing the soil around the root-ball.

Visit plant fairs and open gardens, which usually have plant stalls. The plants are usually great value and not the chain-store-like range stocked at garden centres. One drawback is that as they have usually been recently uprooted from someone's garden they may be harbouring some unwelcome pests and weeds.

For a new patch of grass it's probably too late to sow seed now, as dry weather will cause patchy germination, but you can use turf. Unroll the turf before buying to ensure that is still green, if there are yellowing blades it has been sitting around too long and will die back. If you intend to sow in the early autumn start now with the preparation (the sooner the better). Dig over the area and level, remove perennial weed roots and stones larger than an inch, firm well by tramping. Leave for a few weeks to allow weeds to germinate, hoe them off or use weed killer. Repeat the process throughout the summer to exhaust the weed seeds in the upper layer of soil and give the grass a better chance later.

In dry weather, newly planted herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees will need copious soakings - not just a splash with a hose. To cut down on loss from evaporation, do this in the evening or early morning. If you are using a sprinkler, try placing a jam-jar or other cylindrical container to catch the water to measure how much you have put on.

Aphids abound in June, gently rub them off, the reduced numbers should soon be devoured by ladybirds and hoverfly.

In the vegetable plot use a quick squirt from a hose to sweep them off, especially black bean aphids which will seriously affect the crop, pinching out the tips of the bean plants will also remove their preferred feeding site.

Sow maincrop peas for autumn picking. Cover with netting to keep the birds off. If you can, raise them indoors in cellular trays for better results.

Removing the flowers of potatoes is said to increase the crop by 10% as the energy used to produce the later berries is passed to the tubers instead. Flowering is an indication that the tubers are developing so ensure that the crop has a plentiful supply of water to help them to swell.

Erect bird netting over strawberries and other soft fruit, if it has a small mesh, wait until the petals are falling or raise it to allow the pollinating insects access to the blooms. Make sure it is suitable as some loose knitted netting will trap the birds, a fixed square mesh is best. Slugs may be a problem with strawberries. The strawberries will also be producing lots of runners, so nip them off as they develop to ensure a better crop -
unless you need some new plants to renew the patch.

Continue successional sowings of lettuces, raddish, etc.

Community Web Kit provided free by BT