Monthly Garden Calendar for Southeast United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Don Boekelheide



Mix That Compost. Turn those compost piles you made this spring, mixing in the spent pansies and bolted lettuces. Check your fall piles—you may find some black garden gold ready to use by the end of the month. Put it to work in the garden. Unlike wine, compost doesn't, "improve with age".

Solar Power. After you harvest the last of your spring cropsoil, solarization is a useful organic technique for controlling soil diseases and weeds.

Feed Your Vegetables (So They'll Feed You). Sidedress veggies with a soluble organic fertilizer ('Omega'6-6-6 and 0-6-6 from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply work well), compost tea, organic granular, or generous topdressing of good worm castings or compost. The asparagus bed can always use a generous dressing of compost.

Healthy Herbs. Leafy herbs like basil will start to flower. When you see the first signs of flowering, harvest the top. Pesto time!

Transplant Cole Crops. Toward the end of the June, start Brussels sprouts, collards and other brassicas in flats for transplanting into the garden in early August.

Happy Harvest. Keep harvesting your tomatoes, cukes, squash, peppers and other fruiting crops, or they will lose interest in producing and put their energy into seed.

Beautiful Berries. When your June-bearing strawberries are finished producing, clean up the bed and spread a top-dressing of compost. Everbearing strawberries also benefit from this, though they will continue to produce through the summer. Everbearers may not be the most productive choice for farmers, but they make a very interesting and appealing edible ground cover for home gardeners.

Water Sprout Removal. Get rid of water sprouts on fruit trees. Especially watch out for suckers growing from below the graft, and eliminate them.

Coniferous Care. In June you can trim new growth on conifers like pines. On conifers, don't cut into brown wood, since it won't regenerate green vegetative growth.

Gorgeous Gardenias. Prune your gardenias immediately after bloom. Don't wait until after July 4th. Likewise, prune your hydrangeas while flowering or right afterward, don't wait until the flowers fade.

Lawn Tips. Do not fertilize tall fescue now. Keep it mowed high, at 3 1/2 inches (about 8 cm) so it can out-compete weeds. Mow before the grass gets above 5 inches (12 cm) tall. Plan to water your fescue regularly. Continue fertilizing warm season grasses like Bermuda, centipede, St. Augustine and zoysia.

Watering Tips. Water your plants during dry spells, and don't forget your pots, planters and containers. Watering in the cool of early morning or late afternoon is most efficient. The key point is to be sure that 1-3 cm (1/2-1 inch) of water a week gets to your vegetable garden and other demanding plants.

Please Welcome...The Beetles. Be ready for lots of Japanese beetles and their kin. Hand pick bugs off sensitive plants, like roses, in the early morning. I'm not much of a fan of pheromone traps, which can actually attract beetles to your yard!

Happy gardening, stay cool!