Monthly Garden Calendar for Northern Tier United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Debby Flowers

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JUNE

June is the month of roses, weddings, and little league baseball. Even though there is a lot to do in the yard and garden, be sure and take time to enjoy the warm weather and the fruits of your labors.

Support Your Tomatoes! Most tomato plants will need stakes or cages, and it is best to install them while the plants are still small. Rebar, a steel bar made for reinforcing concrete, makes a very sturdy stake.

Much Mulch. When the soil is thoroughly warmed up, you can go ahead and mulch flower and vegetable beds. Shredded leaves, dried grass clippings, or straw make good mulches. Wild rice hulls are available in my area, so I use those. 2 to 4 inches of mulch will help keep down weeds and conserve soil moisture.

Hoe, Hoe, Hoe. If you have too much garden to mulch, with large plantings of corn and potatoes, you'll need to do some hoeing to keep ahead of the weeds. A scuffle or stirrup hoe is a nifty tool to use. The swivel head allows you to use a back and forth "mopping" action, rather that a chopping motion used with a more traditional hoe. It's easier on the back.

More Veggie Support. Put up a fence or trellis for pole beans, snap peas, cucumbers, gourds, etc. when you plant, or while the plants are very small. Check out wire fencing on rolls at the hardware store, or get creative with tree prunings and brush.

For The Birds. Keep your birdbath full of fresh water this summer. Not only will water attract bug-eating birds to your garden, it will keep thirsty birds from turning to your tomatoes for moisture. Our friends the toads appreciate water too, and sinking a shallow saucer or pan up to its rim and keeping it full of water attracts these pest eaters to your garden.

Keeping Things Tidy. Many of our most beautiful flowers are blooming in June. Stay on top of deadheading chores (removing the spent flowers) and many more flowers will often reward you with more blooms.

Continue Planting. You can continue to make small sowings of radishes, lettuces, spinach and other greens every other week or so. Try to choose the most heat tolerant varieties, and give them a break from the sun by planting them on the east side of taller plants, such as snap peas or corn.

Keep Your Eyes on Your Irises. If your Dutch irises are getting crowded and need dividing, do it right after they finish blooming. Remove the flowers stalks and cut the fans of leaves down to about six inches. Replant the rhizomes with the tops levels with or just about the soil. Don't forget to add some compost to the planting area.

Saving Produce For A Snowy Day. Save some of summer's best flavors for winter use. Rhubarb and strawberries are some of the easiest produce to freeze. Clean and hull berries and freeze on cookie sheet. When they are frozen hard, pack them into freezer bags.

What's Bugging You? In many cases, carefully observing your plants and handpicking the damaging insects will be all you need to do. If the bugs are getting the best of you, seek out organic solutions such as Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis).

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