Summer’s finally here but it was a long haul of a spring. It was the coldest, driest April since 1922. This was followed by a very wet and cool May with low light levels.
Most of my own crops are three weeks behind for early June. But ‘flaming June’ seems to be here and temperatures are now safe for planting at last. Bedding plants, beans, spinach and all vegetable seed can be sown direct.
The growing of any crop of plants, no matter which, lies with soil preparation. Good soil preparation is just as important as good plants.
A good starter is to remove any weeds totally from the soil. After all the wet of May, nutrients will have been washed from the land so it is wise to apply a general fertiliser such as fish blood and bone.
Alternatively, use one of the new pelleted fertilisers, which can generally be applied at a rate of 4oz per square yard (read guidance in the instuctions if in doubt).
The soil itself will benefit from an application of one of many soil improvers, bags of farmyard manure can now be bought at garden centres. This can be forked into the ground at the same time as the fertiliser. Work it well in, so all is mixed into the soil.
One exception to the rule I can think of is dahlias which I find do best with bonemeal in place of a general fertiliser. Better tubers result at the end of the growing season.
Dahlias are now right back in fashion – trends in plants are no different from pants! Everyone starts wearing tight trousers and then the trend sees them flare so wide they could sweep the pavement.
This year one of the main dahlia specialist nurseries announced back in March they were taking no more orders as demand was so high. These colourful blooms are a real attraction but if you do grow dahlias ensure you stake and tie them well.
A dahlia makes a lot of heavy growth and if not tied and well staked, strong winds will blow over and snap off the whole plant.
Keep an eye out for pests and diseases and take action at first signs – prevention is always better than cure.
READ MORE: Gordon the Gardener’s May Day message
If planting up containers, hanging baskets and window boxes, I use a compost of 50/50 mix of John Innes soil-based compost and a quality of multi-purpose compost. The inclusion of the John Innes ensures better water and nutrient retention.
June can produce really warm weather with drying winds which can affect plants if not watered regularly. And here’s a tip – don’t be tempted to just apply small quantities of water as this may result in shallow rooting.
Feed all plants in pots and containers every 10 days to encourage flowering and vigour. Keep your greenhouse damp on very hot days and apply shading to the glass to protect plants from the sun’s rays.
But always remember – the answer lies in the soil.