VIU Milner Gardens and Woodland

June Garden Tasks

by Vancouver Island Master Gardeners Association

The month of roses has arrived, with so many other colours and fragrances calling to us as well. The salad greens are resplendent, the lilies and Hemerocallis are keeping company with the blue-hued spikes of delphinium, salvia and lavender. We officially enter summer on the 20th a little after 10 PM, and the pollinators are all a-buzz.

 First, Check Supply Lists

 Replenish supplies you’ve used earlier in the year so you don’t run out when you need more in autumn and few new orders arrive at the garden centres:

  • Some bags of undyed mulch to keep the ground moist for summer, and more to mix with leaves in October.
  • A bag of worm castings to add into all amendments to boost microbial health of the soil.
  • A bag of manure to mix into compost.
  • An extra pair of gloves.


Maintenance, Maintenance

  • Set out trellises for tomatoes, cucumbers, and pole beans.
  • Clean out the compost bins.
  • Prune lilacs and forsythia soon after blossoms fade as both bloom on old wood.
  • Dead-head rhododendrons and azaleas after bloom so shrubs look tidy.
  • When apples, pears, and peaches are finished the self-thinning fruit drop be brave and thin the remainder by 25% to produce larger, sweeter, more disease-resistant crops. If you have a very heavy apple set, thin by an additional 10% to forestall biennial cropping cycle.
  • Cherries sometimes drop fruit in June, and this is normal. Clean up to deter fruit flies.
  • If you use a greenhouse, remember that our summers are getting hotter. Consider buying a shade cloth.


Planting, Planting

  • Plant dahlias and gladioli.
  • Plant out hot season vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers).
  • If you are a winter food gardener, start seeds for autumn cabbages, leeks, chard, parsnips, over-winter cole crops, and parsnips.

 Pest Patrol
These little free-loaders can make us crazy even though they are part of Mother Nature’s grand scheme.

Studies prove non-toxic methods are actually as effective (often more so) than using chemical methods when you learn what pest is doing the harm, and which stage is most vulnerable. In addition to being kind to our beautiful blue pearl whirling through the cosmos, these methods often take less time – and they cost less!

  • Identify and monitor problems before acting. 80% of plant problems are not from pests but from cultivation methods or putting a plant in the wrong environment.
  • Many perennials like daisies, chrysanthemums, and dahlias naturally deter pests.
  • Most herbs attract beneficial insects as do phacelia, coriander, candytuft, sunflower, yarrow, and alyssum.
  • Borage and nasturtiums make good additions to salads as well as attracting beneficials.
  • Insomnia? Go on night patrol with a flashlight and bucket to pick off the nocturnal adult root weevils on azaleas, rhodos and primroses. On the way back, flip over any walking boards or stones for snoozing slugs.
  • Control aphids on vegetables and roses by hosing off with water. The ants will thank you.
  • Use vinegar traps for fruit flies.
  • Control garden weeds by pulling, hoeing and mulching. Herbicides usually kill the plant, but you have to dig out the carcass anyway, so why not just dig it out and save your money.


Who’s Thirsty?

Consider buying a rain barrel this year. You can easily fill it from your roof runoff in an hour of light rain (.5 to 1 inch) so a single rain a month allows a standard-sized rain barrel to lower a water bill as much as $30 over dry the summer months. Adding in the spring and autumn water usage savings means a rain barrel easily pays for itself in a year. A rain barrel at the garden shed or garage eaves, closer to the garden or that thirsty tree at the back of the yard, can save plants and labour if you leave a hose attached to the spigot, and let gravity take the water to the soaker hose in the area you want.


Water Wise Tips for Summer

  • Water deeply (one inch) and less often. Measure by placing an empty tuna can in your irrigation area.
  • Use soaker hoses, and allow mulch to dry almost to ground level before you water again.
  • Perforate cans or 4 litre jugs with small nails and place next to large landscape plants. Fill as needed.
  • Use low misters to soak mulch once during dry season if it gets dry to an inch below ground level.
  • Let your lawn go dormant. It is the natural growth cycle. So your neighbours don’t fret, you might make a lawn sign: “Hush – the lawn sleeping!” or “Don’t wake me ‘til autumn,” or “Proud to have a brown lawn & save water.”


OMG, I forgot!

Its not too late to hang the traps if you have coddling moth. Add traps to your supply list. And tanglefoot supplies, if you have winter moth so you have it ready for autumn.

And finally …

If you are near a rose garden, search out the fruity fragrance of Citrus Splash’s jaunty bi-coloured petals, savor the warm myrrh and spices emanating from the stamens of the pink musk roses, or let the floribunda Ebb Tide waft its clove perfume your way.

At the end of the day, take a moment to step outside into the softness of a June night. Drink in the evening perfume then bid goodnight to your green space and the wildlife living there, invisible friends who are also settling into their homes in your garden.