June 1 to June 30
Discover what you should be doing right now. Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.
Here's what's happening in your gardening region:
It’s hot out there in case you haven’t noticed, and this month’s tasks all revolve around helping your garden along through our regions especially hot summers. You can start by replacing each of your dwindling annual flowers with those that can take the heat, or better yet, edible heat-tolerant herbs. The best thing you can do for a healthy summer garden is to ensure that your plants are getting enough water to survive. It’s okay if they don’t look quite perfect during this time of year, but you should still provide enough moisture to keep them producing and alive. If you’re trying to conserve water and would rather not waste it on greedy plants, try growing those that can handle drought and heat instead – like okra! There are so many ways to keep your garden healthy through summer, but just remember to keep yourself healthy too. Drink lots of water and only garden during the morning or evening on the hottest days. Happy gardening!
Grow Heat-Tolerant Herbs
Most herbs will happily grow through the hottest days of summer, but among the most rewarding hot season herbs are the basils. Some basil varieties are ornamental enough to grow in your flowerbeds, with colorful purple to blue blooms or purple leaves, while others have unique flavors ranging from spicy to sweet, cinnamon, licorice and citrus. While all basils will thrive in summer, most will also bolt before long and become bitter… except for Burpee’s new Bam Basil, that is. It keeps producing all summer long without flowering and going bitter, which means that you can have pesto in your fridge until the first frost. What more could you ask for?
Keep Plants Watered
Keeping plants watered is always important, but in our unbearably hot summers it’s crucial. Before you invest in a sprinkler system, there are some things you can do to make the most of the naturally occurring rainfall your garden receives. First of all, group plants together by their water needs. If there’s an area of the garden that tends to hold onto water longer, consider placing your thirstier veggies and ornamental plants there – otherwise plant them close to a spigot with a good water hose for quick and easy watering. To hold onto your rainfall, consider attaching a rain barrel to your house’s downspout to collect rainwater that might otherwise wash away.
Garden in Difficult Areas
We all have our problem spots. It might be a barren ‘hellstrip’ between the sidewalk and the street or a ditch that alternates between being inundated and bone dry. In areas like these it’s a fool’s errand to even bother with finicky plants with demands of well drained soil and constant moisture, but there are plants out there that will thrive regardless… so why not grow those? Daylilies are at their best in moist soil, but will handle anything from drought to flooding if worse comes to worst. Cannas love the constantly wet soil of ditches and pond margins, yet can handle droughts once they’ve built up a mass of roots. Gaillardias, AKA blanketflowers, handle anything from drought to occasional wet soil and even salt spray. Some vegetables will even handle summer drought, especially hot peppers, sweet tomatoes, cowpeas and okra. Read the descriptions of each plant in the online catalog to see which ones are right for your problem spots.
Learn to Garden in the Heat
The very thing keeping you inside this summer might be making things difficult for your garden, especially if you’re growing vegetables. Many plants stop growing once temperatures reach a certain point, others go into dormancy or bolt (set seed and decline) and still others, particularly subtropical plants, thrive. To keep suffering plants alive in the heat, be sure to keep the soil moist at all times and provide shade if at all possible. This is a lot easier to do if you’re gardening in containers. Some plants, such as annual flowers, and most vegetables, will begin to decline in summer and should be replaced by heat tolerant substitutes. Good vegetables for summer in our region include okra, hot peppers, sweet potatoes and eggplants. Marigolds, begonias, rudbeckia, periwinkles, torenia, impatiens and salvia are all great annuals for hot summer days as well.
You aren’t a southern gardener until you’ve grown okra, and those in the Southwest and California can get in on this heat-tolerant veggie too. There’s more to okra than the slimy stuff your parents made you eat in a slurry of tomato sauce, and it’s not just for gumbo either. When roasted or quickly sautéed, okra can be positively crisp and refreshing with little of the sliminess that we’ve come to accept from this Southern staple. Whether you choose to eat it fried, roasted or stewed, okra is one of the best vegetables to grow in the unrelenting heat of our summers. Okra loves a lot of moisture and appreciates a balanced fertilizer throughout its growing season, but you’d be surprised by what they can endure without our help! Because these large and architectural plants are such prolific producers, several plants is all you need to keep okra on the table for the whole family. Just be sure that you keep removing the pods before they have a chance to get tough and woody, since those mature pods tell the plant that it’s time to finish up for the season. Each okra cultivar listed below is pretty enough to be grown for good looks alone; from the deep velvety red pods of ‘Burgundy’ to the compact ‘Baby Bubba’.