June is bustin’ out all over!
The garden is green, and summer officially starts this month. I’m looking forward to sharing my garden and food from it with family and friends.
Here’s a checklist of garden tasks you can do in June.
You can also download a printable checklist. Customize this spreadsheet for your own yard and garden.
Who Is This For?
Our garden checklist is designed for gardeners interested in growing food and healthy ecosystems.
We live in the Northern Hemisphere in USDA Zone 7. These recommendations can be applied to many gardens in Zone 6-8.
Not sure what your zone is? Find your USDA zone here.
Not in the U.S.? This pdf comparing international zone systems may help.
Quick 3 for Busy Gardeners
If you have really limited time for gardening (and reading!), I recommend you focus on these three areas this month:
- Plant your summer crops. In most place, the danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm enough for your heat lovers, like tomatoes and melons.
- Mulch! As those seeds sprout and seedlings take-off, add a nice thick layer of seed-free mulch to conserve moisture and smother weeds. Straw (be sure it hasn’t been sprayed with persistent herbicide!), shredded leaves, or even shredded paper can be used here.
- Order a bag of buckwheat seed. If you have buckwheat on hand, you can easily sprinkle this pollinator-friendly cover crop into any open spaces in the garden. It grows quickly to fill in spaces where weeds might grow and you can chop it down to make more mulch.
June Garden Checklist
- Pick and plant again.
When you harvest spring vegetables, don’t leave bare spots behind. Add fresh compost and plant summer veggies. Or lay down a thick layer of mulch to protect the soil and keep weeds from stealing the spot.
- Here come the heat lovers.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to plant or transplant your warm-season veggies. Think eggplant, peppers, okra, melons, squash, and tomatoes.
Train those tomatoes!
Support your tomato vines with stakes or cages. They don’t have tendrils, so you’ll need to train or tie as they grow. Other vines like cucumbers and runner beans can climb on their own after you provide the trellis.
- Plant jack-o’-lanterns.
Do a little garden math with your pumpkins. Pumpkins take 85 – 125 days to mature. Check your seed packet, then count backward from Halloween to pick the best time to plant.
- Water, but only if needed.
With increasing temps, soil dries out more rapidly. Veggies need around one inch of water per week, so you may need to irrigate. If hand-watering feels overwhelming, add soaker hoses or drip irrigation. Take a three-pronged approach to garden water conservation:
1. Choose native or locally-adapted plants when possible.
2. Add a good layer of mulch.
3. Water deeply to encourage deep roots.
- Feed your veggies.
If your garden needs an extra boost of nutrients, you can sidedress plants with compost, worm castings, or an organic fertilizer.
- Get giddy about garlic.
Hard-necked garlics are sending up their curlicue flower stalks, AKA scapes. Snap them to add to a stir fry. Extras will keep for a few weeks in a bag in the fridge. With scapes removed, the plant sends its energy back down to bulb production. (I like to leave a few to flower so I can collect ) Fall-planted garlics may be ready to harvest in a few weeks. When the bottom leaves brown and the top 5 or 6 are still green, it’s time! Read more about harvest here.
- Dig for potato treasure.
If you planted around St Patrick’s Day like us, you can dig “new potatoes” from the edges of your bed. Depending on the variety and plant date, plan to harvest in a month or so. Wait until the leaves have died back and the soil is fairly dry, then dig up those starchy treasures.
- Plant ahead for fall crops.
You can plant some cool-season crops throughout summer for a fall harvest. Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Swiss Chard and turnips are contenders. Here’s a table to help you plan when to plant based on your last frost date (pdf).
- Keep up the weeding!
Weeds are persistent; you must be, too. In bare areas, you can think of weeds as cover crops and let them go for a few weeks. Just be sure to chop them down before they go to seed!
Thin out fruit trees
Thin young fruit clusters to get bigger fruit at maturity. You also lower the risk of branches breaking from a fruit load that’s too heavy.
- Give your herbs a haircut.
Trim the tips of your herbs to encourage branching and discourage flowering. Bring the trimmings inside for cooking or drying.
- Au revoir asparagus.
When asparagus stalks are mostly pencil-thin, it’s time to say goodbye to those lovely green spears until next spring. Let the ferny foliage grow and store energy reserves. It’s a great time to weed, add an inch or so of compost, and replenish mulch.
- Pick and deadhead flowers.
It’s not required, but deadheading your flowers can keep them blooming longer. You remove the spent blooms before seeds develop, so many plants will continue to flower in an effort to make seeds. Cutting blooms for the table does the same thing AND you get to enjoy the flowers inside and out.
Start a compost bin.
It’s always a good time to start compost. 🙂 New to composting? Here’s our mini-course to get started.
- Check your compost pile.
How is your existing compost pile doing? Does it need water? Or is it soggy. Have you turned it recently? The more often you turn it, the faster you will have finished compost. We turn our bins at least once a week.
As temperatures rise, mulch keeps your soil cool and conserves water. It keeps weeds in check, too. Straw, shredded leaves, and grass clippings are good choices for the vegetables and berries. Wood chips and shredded bark are good for paths, trees, some herbs, and shrubs. We have heard differing opinions on how pine needles affect soil pH, so we use it around trees, berries, herbs, and plants that don’t mind acidic soil.
- Plant buckwheat.
Buckwheat is our favorite summer cover crop. It sprouts to cover the soil quickly, outcompetes most weeds, and gives us lots of organic matter to chop down for mulch or composting. Pollinators and other beneficial insects love its flowers, too.
- Keep your garden tools in tip top shape.
We’re always reminding our kids to put away toys after play, and we try to do the same with our garden toys and tools. Brush off soil, wash off sap, and hang them to dry in a protected area. Care for your tools well, and they’ll last longer and work better. Click for some simple tool care tips.
- Install a rain gauge.
Citizen science fun! Keep track of how your precipitation compares with the region. You can also adjust your irrigation based on how much rainfall you get.
- Keep working on your garden journal. (You’ll be glad you did!)
Things are happening (and growing) so fast this month. Try to take notes every day, so you don’t forget. Garden record keeping (a journal) is a good way to avoid last year’s mishaps and repeat triumphs. Apps on your phone are useful (we use Evernote), but pen and notebook are good enough.
- Take a walk with your camera and journal.
Schedule a regular time to observe your yard and garden. Take along a camera and your journal to record what you see.
- Pull out (or purchase) netting for your plants.
It is time to put up nets around berries, so the birds don’t steal the treasure. They especially love blueberries around here!
- Invite swallowtails to the garden
Plant dill, fennel and rue to attract egg-laying swallowtail butterflies. The caterpillars will feast on your plants, and soon you’ll have beautiful butterflies.
- Keep your hummingbird feeders clean and full.
Help your hummers stay healthy by cleaning the feeders carefully each time you refill them. If hummingbirds don’t finish the sugar water first, change it out every 3-4 days in hot weather.
Stack rocks for lizards.
Insect-eating lizards are welcome in our garden. Encourage them in your yard with a pile of rocks or a dry-stacked wall. Lizards hide and hunt in the nooks and crannies, and they can bask on the warm rocks when the weather is cool.
- Watch for beetle mania!
Hungry Japanese beetles (and other pesky beetles) are emerging. Hand pick them in early morning when they’re moving slow. Drop them into a bucket of slightly-soapy water. (A drop or two will do to break the surface tension so they’ll sink!) Read more about organic control methods on Mother Earth News.
- Visit a farmer’s market.
Markets in most areas are full of spring goodness! Greens, garlic scapes, radishes, broccoli, strawberries and more. Supplement your own harvest with locally-grown, and connect with other growers while you’re there.
- Celebrate National Get Outdoors Day.
On National Get Outdoors Day, plan an outing with friends or family in your own yard or beyond!
- Invite a friend to a garden-fresh meal.
The only thing I like better than eating fresh from the garden is inviting others to eat fresh with me! You could even plan a garden party to celebrate the longest day of the year–the summer solstice.
- Plan a garden playdate.
If your kids are like mine, they’ll enjoy showing friends around the garden. “Look at this!”…”This fennel tastes good–try it!”…”These are me radishes”…and so on. Allow plenty of time for them to explore and play together.
- Let them go barefoot.
Playing barefoot is great for kids (and adults!). It’s good for strength, agility, body awareness, and motor development. Worried about injury or disease? Unless you’re playing somewhere with glass/rusty nails/needles, your kids will learn to avoid pokey sticks and rocks (or get tough feet!). In the U.S., the chance of getting hookworm or other disease is very, very small. So the next time your kids run out the door without shoes, let them!
- Make time for water play.
When you’re watering the garden, kids can help. From manning the hose to using a watering can, our boys love to water. If we need to water the grass, we do it when they can run in the sprinkler. And of course, sometimes we play in water just for fun! Here’s a Pinterest board with lots of fun water play ideas.
What garden tasks are at the top of your list this month?
What projects are you excited about? What chores are you dreading? Let me know in the comments below.