Mid June season for vegetables

Mid June season for vegetables

Catching up after cold winds, aphids and pest protection, seed quality and sowing now

Lack of rain and cold winds have put plants under stress, especially salads, spinach, chard, broad beans and peas; also warmth-loving plants such as climbing beans and cucurbits, which also have not liked the cold nights of early June. Don’t worry if your runner and French beans look pale because they need warmth to grow strongly with dark green leaves. Its not a question of soil nutrition, simply that these plants cannot access the nutrients they need when soil temperatures are lower than normal. The same applies to sweetcorn, courgettes and squash, outdoor tomatoes too, whereas peas and broad beans thrive in cooler conditions, and undercover the wind protection and abundance of sunshine has helped tomatoes to grow well.
On the other hand, my polytunnel basil was struggling until very recently, while in the greenhouse where nights are warmer, its healthy. Also I have watered the basil, and other undercover plants, more than usual because of the incredibly dry air pulling so much moisture from leaf and soil. Until June 12th, any light showers evaporated quickly in the wind.

Plant stress and aphids

The weather until June 12th has been unusual: relentless wind, less rain and our main pest (slugs) has been noticeably absent. Instead we have had the classic pest of a dry spring, aphids: on lettuce, broad beans and any plant under stress from dry conditions.
Aphids are most prevalent in spring as they breed faster than most other insects, so temporarily they threaten to take over, until their predators can increase in number. I find that their prevalence is temporary and soon, by the end of June, order is restored as ladybird larvae and other predators increase in number.
No dig with surface mulch helps this balance to be maintained because plants are less stressed than in unmulched, dug soils. Also you can reduce aphid numbers by watering, for example I have noticed a pleasing reduction in aphids on lettuce after increasing the amount of water, even drenching each plant briefly from the hose.
A final word on aphids is their annoying way of introducing virus diseases, as they suck on plant sap. The photos of parsley show a result of this and where you see deformed plants, usually with some aphids present, there is no remedy I know of except to pull them out (its ok to compost them) and replant. Examples are yellowing and dwarfing of carrot leaves, chard, lettuce and brassicas.

Seed quality

I have had some notable successes and failures with seeds from different sources. Best results are coming from biodynamic, https://www.bingenheimersaatgut.de/content/de/english-catalogue.html seeds from Germany. They are so good that I hope to help others in Britain to buy them without having issues of sending euros to pay for them.
An example is Bingenheimer dill which I sowed at the same time as some dill seeds from Mr Fothergills, in February in the greenhouse, then planted at the same time in late March. The Mr F. dill is now rising to flower, which is normal in June, but the Bingenheim dill is continuing in leaf. It was the same story for coriander, the Bingenheim cropped for an extra week, and their Lollo Rosso, Bianca and Bijella lettuce are giving great harvests.

Sow now

Its approaching the time when a lot of second sowings can be made, and some have quite a brief window of opportunity, such as dwarf French beans now and carrots by early July, unless you are happy with an autumn harvest of small carrots. I sowed some between garlic but then sparrows have been taking dust baths there!
In the next fortnight I am sowing purple sprouting broccoli, beetroot, Florence fennel, frisee endive, Palla Rossa chicory and flat leaf parsley.
Meanwhile I have leek plants ready to go in after for example, early potatoes. Also plants of red cabbage, savoys, French beans and even Brussels which I have yet to plant, and need to! It has been difficult finding enough space because of the demand for my salad leaves, meaning the garden has around 900 lettuce plants growing at any one time, as well as plants for flavour such as sorrel and herbs, then the oriental leaves from August (no rush to sow them yet).

Pests to come

Oh joy. Be prepared with mesh covers, or fine netting, against butterflies and moths. I reckon to lay a mesh cover over all plantings of cabbage for autumn hearting, and leeks because the moth is prevalent hereabouts.
Whether you need to cover or not depends on which pests are bad in your area, for example you may not have leek moth and I hope not! Its larvae have been tunnelling in some of my garlic stems too.
Currently I have mesh over most carrots but in recent June’s the fly has been absent, sometimes one is lucky, but there is no way of predicting this.

Aminopyralid damage

Recently I saw this in two gardens and it has made me wonder if others are suffering, from using manure with it, or even potting compost (Vitax had it a while ago).
Last yearI suffered some of this from adding a little of my neighbour’s horse manure to my own compost heaps. Her horses had eaten hay made from grass sprayed with this poisonous weedkiller, which persists. Growth of susceptible vegetables is stunted as the young leaves curl inwards like a fern. Most susceptible are solanums and legumes, also suffering are lettuce (asteraceae) and beet family. Whereas brassicas, cucurbits and alliums grow alright.
The only cure is that soil organisms break it down after about a year. In a heap, it just remains dormant.

One thought on “Mid June season for vegetables

  1. Interesting reading and some lessons for me to learn: I have clearly had the odd carrot damaged by aphids (perfect description by you of what has happened); the blackfly is much earlier and worse this year; I actually have quite a few cracks in my no-dig beds due to the drought (we’ve been watering quite regularly but we’ve had really very little rain since the planting season started).

    A few other things I’ve noted: Long Green Maraicher cucumbers, which I chose as an outdoor strain last year which grew nice fruit, will survive quite happily being planted out in early- to mid May but has only really started to take off since the beginning of June. It’s now doing very happily and has its first flowers on already.

    The first early and second early potatoes have suddenly started to ‘lie down’ a bit, spreading out onto the paths in between the beds. Is this due to insufficient water or do Estimas just do that?

    The onions have been struggling a bit, with growth being good but every so often an allium goes haywire and curls up and dies. Don’t know if this is drought-related or a disease?

    Garlics have already been harvested in their entirety and the Elephants will come up soon also. The crop was much better than last years and shows that Early Purple Wight is a reliable strain for NW London, it having done well two years out of three (last year was a write off due to no frosts and rust in February). Elephants are also reliable. The winter onion harvest is also complete: the results were very variable, with some nice big bulbs but a lot which struggled to thrive after the winter. Strain changes next year.

    Lettuces can be grown as pick and come again in between the sticks for climbing beans (runner or French). We are now harvesting daily from our seven plants (probably needed fewer) – both Lollo Rosso and Bionda a Foglia Liscia. They were ready to start harvesting just as I transplanted the first set of beans and sowed the second lot. It looks to me that we will get 6 – 8 weeks of good harvests before the beans have blocked out the light. I am sowing more at the end of June to give us more for the autumn.

    The peas and mange touts are now producing pods aplenty. Boltardy beetroot are getting to a size where we can start to harvest (there will come a time limit as I have leeks to transplant out when they are done) – well behind your rates down in Somerset.

    Asparagus crop will end on the solstice and it has been more epic even than last year – a later start but 20lb is going to be the final yield for a 1m * 5m area. Clearly they like some food over winter – we will try leaves next winter after two rounds of horse manure.

    Potatoes are now full size after a much slower start this spring. The 7.5sqm bed we hope to eclipse last year’s 125lb. We could do with a bit of rain if we want to do that…….

    Early brassica plantings’ growth has been epic and the cabbage and sprouts planted at the end of May are now taking off. A pail of compost as a top dressing clearly does wonders for brassicas in spring.

    The big failure has been the leeks grown in tubs: I must have used duff compost as they have remained spindly after great germination. Seaweed concentrate diluted has done nothing for them. The first lot were planted out as spindly little things and most seem to be surviving and starting to grow. Whether we will get any decent sized alliums, only time will tell. At least they went in at the end of May to give them 4 months of solid growth.

    Celery has transplanted fine but does not seem to be growing too much. There is still time. Corn transplants are all doing well.

    Swede and Celeriac failed to progress in modules so have been transplanted out. They are doing fine but I wonder if they will grow big enough to crop.

    Next sowings will be late carrot, dwarf bean, transplanting the second leeks and the sowing of winter leaves and brassicas at the next full moon.

    We live and learn, as always……

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