June: What’s Happening in the Garden?

May and June in Chicagoland have seen record rainfall so far, and no doubt your plants (and weeds!) have been looking quite lush. This is a clue that one of the most important things needed for growing big, juicy vegetables is water. As we move into the hotter and drier months of July and August, some folks will no doubt get plant envy, as they look at their neighbor’s larger greens and abundant tomatoes. While your plants will certainly survive and grow with a watering every few days, they will do much better with daily watering when the days are over 80F, and particularly in a raised bed, which drains quite quickly. Mulch, particularly local cocoa shell mulch, will help with moisture retention and weed reduction for the days you can’t make it to water the garden.

As tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini begin to form their first tiny fruits, nutrient needs for the plants increase. Add a side dressing of fertilizer to ensure continuous production throughout the summer.

Summer pests arrive this month: cucumber beetles, squash vine borer moths, squash bugs, and cabbage butterfly larvae. Are you having any issues with these? The best control for many pests is physical – either covering with row cover to prevent adults from laying eggs, or removing by hand. Beneficial insects are also a great way to manage these pests. Our friends at City Grange have Mantids, Nematodes, and Lady Bugs waiting to go home with you.

Tasks for this month include:
-keeping up with watering, and adding mulch if available
snipping garlic scapes if you want larger heads of hardneck garlic
-harvesting cilantro and direct-seeding new seeds for a continuous harvest
-leaving space in the garden for plants to grow larger. As you harvest your radishes or other spring crops, leave the space empty so your other plants can fill in