As we bask in that rare sensation of warmth on our skin, it somewhat feels like this year’s growing season is only just beginning. Hard to credit that the summer solstice is around the corner and we are soon to celebrate the longest day of the year, marking the point in the season at which the light slowly begins to subside and growth slows down. Rest assured though that the routine weed, water, mulch, tie-in and repeat tasks of the kitchen garden are not slowing down. And if you feel like you have missed the grow-your-own boat due to the wash-out spring, have no doubt that there are still lots of seeds that can be sown and plenty of time to catch up.

Successional Sowing

There are certain perishable vegetables that demand to be sown little and often throughout the season to avoid gluts and shortages. This is referred to as successional sowing and is simply the practice of sowing a small amount of the same vegetable in succession during the growing season. It is a practice best suited to quick-maturing vegetables such as kohlrabi, lettuce, radish, spring onions and white turnip. Continue or start sowing these fast growing nutritious vegetables in small batches now to ensure a continuous, fresh supply for the rest of the season. Beetroot, carrots, dwarf beans, dwarf peas, and florence fennel are slower growers but all respond well to sowing in June.


Potatoes sown earlier in the season should be up and growing by now so they will need weeding and maintenance to ensure continued healthy growth. It is important that no developing tubers are exposed to sunlight as this is what causes them to become green and unpalatable. Earthing-up combats this and entails the gradual mounding of soil around the stems to provide support and encourage tubers to grow. A draw hoe is ideal for this job which should always be carried out on a dry day. The ‘pull’ action of the hoe will also remove weeds so you can enjoy the added bonus of knocking off two jobs for the outlay of one.

Crunchy Carrots

Crunchy and crammed with flavour, nothing quite compares to the earthy, sweet taste of a freshly pulled, homegrown carrot. Early to mid-June is an ideal time for sowing carrots outside. Ground temperatures are up which accelerates seed germination plus these later sowings are more likely to avoid the first flight of the dreaded carrot root fly, arch nemesis of all carrot growers. Carrot seed is miniscule and germination is sometimes erratic. Make a shallow seed drill, about 1.5cm deep using the side of a hoe or a dibber, allowing 25cm-30cm between rows. Water drills and then dribble the seed as slowly and carefully as possible, aiming for 2-3cm distance between plants. This can take practice but from my experience, it’s better to be slightly heavier handed as it’s easier to thin a crop than deal with lots of gaps in a direct sown carrot crop a couple of weeks later. Prevention is always better than cure and the only sure way to combat the carrot root fly laying its eggs is to cover the crop immediately after sowing. You can use horticultural fleece but environmesh or Bionet ( is more hard-wearing.

Plan ahead

Purple sprouting broccoli (PSB) is the ultimate ‘hungry gap’ vegetable. Seeds sown now will only come into their own next spring when there is little else fresh to pick in the kitchen garden but don’t delay as plants need to be well established in the ground going into winter. Sow PSB seeds in modules indoors – no bottom heat is required at this time of year. Seedlings will appear between 4-12 days. Thin modules to one seedling per cell and pot-on into 9cm pots. Gradually harden off before planting out to final position, allowing between 60-90cm spacing, each way. Plant your transplants deep, burying the stem so that lower leaves are just above the soil surface. Arguably, it’s not the best crop to grow if you are short on space and looking for quick results but it does make a great follow on crop to early potatoes or other early summer vegetables. Careful consideration of location is needed as a garden bed will be tied up with PSB for almost a year but when spring comes around you will be rewarded with numerous purple-green or white florets on long, slender stems to brighten up your plate and plot.

June is a great month for multiplying your herb collection by taking softwood cuttings.

New plants for free

June is a great month for multiplying your herb collection by taking softwood cuttings. Marjoram, mint, lavender, lemon balm, lemon verbena, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme all root well at this time of year. Take cuttings in the morning if possible and select healthy, non-flowering stems. Using sharp, clean scissors, cut shoots about 8-10cm in length and trim to just below a node (where leaf joins stem). Remove all leaves from the bottom third of the stem and insert cuttings around the edge of a pot, containing a 50:50 mix of moist, coarse sand/grit and potting compost. Water-in thoroughly and place the pot somewhere warm and bright, but out of direct sunlight. Covering with a plastic bag, or cloche, can aid rooting and prevent moisture loss. When using a plastic bag, shake it out every so often to remove condensation and allow ventilation. Keep the compost moist until the cuttings are well rooted which can take anywhere from three to six weeks. Transplant into individual pots until sturdy enough to plant out or better again, gift to friends.

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