View 7th June of where we filmed

June mid month new picking and plantings, intersowing carrots, making and using composts, pyralid weedkiller hidden in composts

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The weather is cooler and damper than May, but only 28mm/1.1in rain here so far. The soil under growing plants is still dusty – but some of you have had big rain, even too much. “A dripping June keeps all in tune”, within reason.

We have needed to water much less recently. See my watering video for more details. In the polytunnel we water twice a week just now, with daytime temperatures only high teens C/high sixties F.

No dig, keep it simple, see June video

You need simply to keep pulling any weeds as soon as seen, when small. None then go to seed. No dig means many fewer weeds, and easier to remove, Keep pulling bindweed and marestail!

You don’t need to be feeding and fertilising, except for container growing. I received this sobering tale from Jodie:

I went up the allotment this morning to check on everything after the rains, and the fox has dug up 8 of my 9 squash! I have some spare so can mostly fill the space, but that leaves one spare bed. I was going to have 2 beds this year with squash, but alas not! I’m guessing the fox sniffed out the bonemeal I put under the squash. First time I’ve ever used it. I won’t be using it again!


I sowed cabbage and kale on 9th May in a seed tray, we pricked them to modules, and potted them to pots. This keeps them growing while broad/fava beans and spinach are finishing.

Edward helped me to plant them on the evening of 11th June and it was amazing to see how dry the soil is, where broad beans were growing. Next week we are transplanting Brussels sprouts.

Direct sowing

My only direct sowings in summer are carrots, in order to have straight and unforked roots. Finding space for them means often intersowing.

There is carrot root fly just finishing its first hatching, and I have damage to uncovered sowings. Those under fleece and mesh are mostly clean.


We created a video on 7th June, and Edward spent a fair time on the editing. I think the quality is as good as you will find anywhere.

In this video I wanted to show how you can tell when to harvest, because it’s not mentioned a lot in garden writing. I cover it in my second online course. Together with advice on planning for succession plantings, and a lot on spacings.

More harvests

Softneck garlic is coming ready over the next two weeks. We harvested the polytunnel garlic on 4th June and this morning I pulled an outdoor garlic which has a lot of rust. It’s ready to pull, has finished swelling. If you leave them in too long after leaves go yellow with rust or age, the outer skin degrades and they look quite ugly.

Hardneck garlic matures often in early July. Look for a ribbed patter of cloves protruding from the bulb, yet still covered with the white outer skin of each bulb.

Planning the next plantings

I put up a video to help, last summer “Garden Planning”. A lot is about timing and spacing.

Find the knowledge of what can be sown when, for succession sowing, on my sowing timeline. Also in Calendar + Diary book offer.

Making compost

We have been short of materials, due to dry weather, and no coffee grounds from cafes. Covid has ramifications in all directions. One nice thing has been neighbours bringing their garden wastes here, after I expressed interest, and because the recycling centre is not much open, with long queues.

If you cut hedges of their new growth, the leaves and green wood are good to compost. Especially if you can mow them. We also have a shredder for woody prunings, such as elder and any shrubs.

Using compost

No need to worry about pH. But often compost is sold too fresh and unripe. For example if it’s warm when you fill beds, is still decomposing and taking nutrients.

By late summer this will cease and things will grow, but new plantings may go yellow, and the compost will be difficult to water, at first. This is sometimes called “burning”.

Perhaps add a little potting compost around plants and in plant holes for now.

There is much confusion about this, such as this question. Few people really understand it.

I received a truck load of communal green waste that is composted by the local area and i was told that it could burn my vegetation but i have no explanation as to why.

Woody material is slowest to decompose, best not bury wood chip in new beds for example. Green wood on a compost heap, such as the willow in these photos, will decompose by autumn.


Aminopyralid and clopyralid

These horrible poisons are causing much distress and problems. If you suffer it, report on the website

Suppliers whose products have caused problems include Fenland Country Topsoils (probably in horse manure from Newmarket), farmers selling cow manure, Westland (many instances I know of – probably pyralids in lawn weedkillers), Country Natural organic manure – plus the owner is rude when asked about this, and now there are problems with cow manure as well as horse manure.

Grow broad beans in modules of compost to check. See my videos, inform yourself. It’s painful but necessary. The main symptom to check for is tight inward curling of new leaves, resulting in deformed and twisted plants. Even a few parts per billion cause this. Don’t compost the leaves, the poison continues in any heaps, but is dissipated by soil microbes, when laid on top.

52 thoughts on “June mid month new picking and plantings, intersowing carrots, making and using composts, pyralid weedkiller hidden in composts

  1. Hey Charles, I hope you are doing okay during this difficult time? Your garden is looking lovely and abundant as ever.

    Quick query re. onions: from seed in year one you could harvest the bulb to eat, or leave it and in year two you could let it flower and harvest the seed for growing bulbs the following season. If you left it as is, what would happen in year three? Would it send out a new flower stem or does the bulb expire after flowering in year two?

    Although I understand the necessary changes, I do miss the community of the forum and the way threads could extend, sometimes over several pages! Some great times for sure. Our allotment has been a real boon during lockdown, even more than normal. We’ve harvested some lovely asparagus the last couple of years – how quickly the time has gone since I sowed them! Many thanks.


    1. Hi Tris and nice to hear.
      Yes a pity about the forum. Site security is a nightmare!
      I would harvest onions as normal, select 6-8 of best and plant in March, for flower July etc and then yes, the bulb/plant dies after setting seed.
      Lockdown has been mostly bad I feel, but some good things and ok for gardeners 🙂

      1. Thank you.

        Hoping we can begin to return to some kind of normal over the next couple of months. Like you say, some good aspects to lockdown, some bad. Gardening has been a blessing for sure.

        Thanks for your advice over the years and great to see Homeacres looking so full of healthy growth. Let’s keep going!

  2. Charles

    Finally half my carrot bed is almost free so my leeks can start to go in next week. Can my modules be planted any deeper than soil level and what spacing would you recommend for modules?

    By the way I was leafing through a couple of your books trying but failing to find module sown leak spacing and came across a leaflet hidden in something else for admission to the Alhampton Open Gardens day on 7 June 2015! 10 gardens in the event. What a beautiful day that was, perfect weather (as I remember) and a lot of fantastically different gardens. Hope Haddon Wood is coming along splendidly.

    Best wishes Eliza

  3. Hi Charles
    I’ve just watched the ‘When to Pick’ Video and it’s so informative and helpful.

    Reading the above notes, how do know if you are buying hard or soft necked garlic? I’m just about to go and check my garlic which I planted out in October 2019 and I’m just wondering if it’s ready to harvest?

    1. Thanks Karen.
      There should have been a description when you bought it.
      Now if there is a hard stem + flower, it’s hardneck.
      Otherwise softneck and ready to lift now.

  4. Hi Charles,
    I’m new to gardening wanting to start a new no dig bed, I have a large pile of cow manure and straw that has acluminated over the last 7 years so enough to put straight onto weeds. I have two concerns however. Firstly the pile although is very dark and I think rotted is very wet and not at all like compost apart from possibly some areas at the surface. Secondly I’m worried that at some point straw or hay bought in may have contained aminopyralid. Could I make the bed, plant large brassica seedlings/plants and then everything will be fine next year? I can’t find whether you spread affected compost at the end of last year or not and if it worked out okay? Sorry for all the questions!

    1. Yes Sam you can do that. Break up lumps with a fork, shake them out, fluff it up. Finer compost on top say 3cm then plant. Hope it’s good

  5. Charles

    One thing I have found with composting and spreading it is that spreading compost which still has woody material in it in the autumn is pretty beneficial, it seems, to growth the next summer, even if you rake off the woody material to the paths in the spring when planting up. I sense it may be that the wood is providing a ‘compost tea’ of sorts during winter rains, even if it is not yet fully broken down. I simply keep breaking twigs up into smaller pieces through winter as they become breakable and leave bits smaller than 10cm long on the soil as they will have broken down by midsummer. My heaps are simply not as big as yours and I tend to just compost what is available, rather than having access always to the most perfect materials. But the more woody material I put in my compost piles, the better its effect seems to be on the soil the next year.

    Paths with woody material on them tend to break them down by the following autumn, so in effect you have a mulch of sorts for your paths from the stuff you raked off your beds.

    We have just had an inch and a half of rain the past 24 hrs, which does suggest to me that parsnips and early carrots will be monstrously good this year, having had two months of droughty conditions to develop deep tap roots, now a goodly amount of rain to increase foliage and swell the roots. The same with beetroot planted out in May: they have grown away really well and now with this rain I hope they will produce great roots in July.

    Last cherry harvest tomorrow morning – that must be a new record for us here: normally we would only just be starting the harvest at the solstice. For the non-vegetarian readers, cherry sauce with pork chops is stupendously good!

    1. I agree Rhys, and like to see a little wood on the surface, where it shows up more than other materials.
      42mm here in 20 hours, such joy

  6. Hi Charles,
    yesterday I made a new bed on cut weeds and gras with cardboard and 10 cm of municipal compost, bought three months ago. Today I sowed indoors kohlrabi, winter-brokkoli, calabrese. When seedlings grow, I will pot them in multi-modules. Can I plant them out in the new bed in about four weeks or is it to fresh?
    ….had the first real rain in june last night, 15 mm, and my first Charles-Dowding-admiration- Compost-heap-m3 with alpaka-sheep-chicken-green-manure has 70 degrees !!!
    Heartly greatings from Germany

    1. Nice to read this MarieTheres 🙂
      Since your compost was 3 months old already, it should be fine to plant into, even now and certainly in a month’s time.
      I would add a little say potting compost to the surface, even just 1cm, in case the green waste compost was very woody and may be slow at releasing nutrients at first – they vary.

  7. Hi Charles

    I’m new to no dig and am in the first year of establishing a new bed following your method of cardboard over lawn with 4+ inches of imported well rotted farmyard manure and composted woodchip mix. Can you explain why my plants seem v slow to establish and a number have in fact died back having been doing quite well before transplanting? We are in Derbyshire so a little behind you on the gardening calendar having had a heavy frost in mid May which killed off fresh growth on beech hedges and one or two oak trees.

    1. Sorry to hear this Ben.
      It could be the wood chip was too woody, so is taking nutrients, because it’s in the rooting zone.
      Depends which plants died – some manure has pyralid weedkiller, affects legumes and solanums (potatoes).

  8. Hi Charles, I talk to you before of my compost which is too fresh and my plants slowly growing yellow. Do you think adding some grass clipping on the surface of the bed would be a good idea or would it bring weeds?
    Or shall I wait autumn before planting again in this bed? Thank you. Norbert

    1. It would not make much difference this year, could help in the long term, may bring slugs and weeds.
      I think your beds could be good in autumn, from summer plantings like beetroot and leeks.

  9. Hello, I wanted to ask if you leave tomato roots cut off in beds when they are finished, like other crops? I know certain diseases come with tomatoes, so wanted to hear what you do.

  10. Hi Charles
    Could you possibly give me some advice please , I am on the Isle of Mull, west coast of Scotland and the soil is pretty poor and quite peaty . I have quite a large plot and sourcing any things like mushroom , horse and even cow manure is nigh on impossible , neither do we have facilities such as council green compost . Although I am composting all greens etc, in Dalek composters and two hot composter bins they are certainly not enough to cover the beds I have . I have access to seaweed in abundance as the sea backs onto my back door. I desperately need to improve the condition of my soil to make it more productive and so in the Autumn I am thinking of layering a layer of shredded seaweed with a layer of grass on top and maybe layer of leaves on top of that . I’m not sure if it would make any difference the other way around , or if there is anything negative to using the grass like this at all . In your opinion would this work or could you suggest anything else I could do with out the access to all of the manures and composts

    1. All sounds good Caz. Seaweed is your compost!
      I saw it being used on Iona, with fine results, was there 1981.
      Adding grass and leaves in autumn is worth a try, any organic matter.

  11. I’ve found a supply of well composted horse manure so I’ve laid my first no dig bed – I’m very excited about trying this method. This is my second year strawbale gardening but I wish I’d found no dig first!

  12. Wonderful , love your garden.
    I have plenty of grass clippings, can I compost all of this stuff?
    What do I have to consider?

    Regards Insa

  13. I used fleece on my lettuce and to protect potatoes when we had a cold spell in spring. I was really pleased especially with the lettuce which really benefited from the fleece. Unfortunately the fleece started to disintegrate leaving tiny pieces all over the bed which were impossible to pick up .I have no idea where I bought the fleece from but am hoping that it is a biodegradable type as I can’t imagine this happening if it had a plastic content.

    1. Oh dear, horrible stuff 17gsm lightweight designed to break, afraid it’s plastic. I recommend 30gsm or 1ox/yard

    2. Same thing happened to me about 10 years ago. Think they were about 1m x 2m and came from one of the pound shops. Obviously wasn’t uv stabilised. Disappeared leaving 1cm sized pieces in less than a month. Couldn’t get a refund as the shop wanted me to take the whole fleeces back! Said there’d been no other complaints. Kept finding bits for ages afterwards. Shouldn’t be allowed to be sold.

  14. Charles

    I too am short of composting material – should I add some evergreen leaves such as from a choisya? I don’t have a shredder but could clip them a little. I already add beech leaves, although I let these rot partially first.

    Regards Eliza

  15. Hi Charles

    Are you saying there is weed killed in Westland Manure?
    I have several bags on my allotment not open yet. Should I use of not?

    1. Yours may be fine Carol but some have the poison. I would check by sowing a few broad beans in it, 3 weeks is enough

      1. I just want to be clear about this. I need to sow direct into a bed that has Westland Manure in it, is this correct. What should I expect to see happening with the seeds.

        Love your no dig methods, I am a BIG fan.

        1. You can, if the manure is enough decomposed that you can draw a line in it (furrow) for the seeds.

          1. Or you can sow some in pots of the manure if you haven’t already spread it on your beds. Compare with seeds sown in potting compost, as in the photos in Charles’ post.

  16. I covered my beds with some woody compost last year and all my growth is so much slower compared to last year, and compared to my parents’ who used a different compost. So annoying. I need to supplement with nitrogen fertilizer this year. I’ve gotten some beautiful turnips though!

  17. Wonderful video. Beautiful song thrush. My favourite. A little piece of peace on Earth…

    Your crops way ahead of mine this year.

  18. We’ve lost about a third of our garlic and onions to white rot in our allotment, it’s so annoying, it was our first crop in our new allotment. We’re wondering if all of the soil in the allotment is infected, or as you say it may have been on the sets, as the onions and garlic in the other bed seem ok.

      1. I’ve also lost most of my alliums on the allotment with white rot this week. I’ve been reading that you can spread garlic powder on the plot in spring and autumn when the soil temperature is around 15C, and then plant again the following year Have you ever tried this?

  19. Hi Charles, I’ve noticed a few of my garlic have been infected with white rot this year! Would it be best to just pull all my garlic bed up now to try minimise the spread? It’s a hardneck variety. Do you have any experience dealing with this? They are also heavily infected with rust too…Nightmare!

    1. Ah shame. A few suggests quite a spread already and yes I would harvest all now, after pulling the infected ones first. send to recycling – v hot composting will kill spores.

  20. This year, in two of our allotment beds, we’ve had a white mould around the base of onions (white sturon sets and white Lisbon seed). Weve never experienced this roting before, wondering if maybe either white rot or weather related; if white rot we bought in 20 bags of compost to top up no dig top dressing, could this have been the cause? It really makes you think if its worth buying bagged compost these days!

    1. How maddening Mary. Sounds like the awful white rot and may have been on the onion sets.
      Hard to be sure about the compost , yes it makes you wonder.

  21. Charles

    I have successfully sown Cylindra Beetroot direct this summer, between two rows of Guardsman spring onion. The birds have not pulled them out, perhaps because they are hidden amongst bigger plants? Just trying them out for the local show, but if they taste good they will become a staple too. I also sowed my home-saved French climbing beans and runners direct, because I was short of pots due to establishing loads of perennial pollinators for the allotment. They seem to germinate very well in good no-dig soil. I did sow late this year due to the moon cycles (29th May), which may not fit your timetables, of course.

    The recent rains have demonstrated stunningly how onions react to drought and rain: loads of plants completely shrivelled up with leaves flat on the ground during the hot dry weather (I learned that onions need more watering than I thought), then suddenly the big leaves stand upright and alert after and inch and a bit of rain with cooler weather. There are a smallish number of plants (Sturon, Kelsae and Vento) which have come through the drought incredibly well, which may make them worth making seeds from?

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