The June Garden
This is the hibernating time. Humans huddle rounds hot drinks- pests like harlequin beetles, fruit fly, slugs and snails shelter in slow 'compost heaps' (really piles of weeds) ready to breed in spring. A good compost heap should be hot enough to kill pests- if it isn't, piss in it, or add another form of nitrogen till it does.
Thrips will be seeing the winter out on flowering weeds. When the weeds die off in spring they'll move to your plants. Either get rid of the weeds, or better still plant more flowering ground covers round trees and along garden paths, to tempt the thrips so they don't get into your fruit trees, (thrips prefer to be close to the ground) and to attract early predators in spring. Codlin moth will be cocooned in rough bits of bark, on wooden ladders, fences or old fruit boxes. Look for cocoons and squash them.
Any of April's crops can still be sown now if the ground feels warm when you touch it. If it makes you shiver most plants will simply sit and shiver too..
.Onions can be planted unless the ground is frozen. Onion seedlings are small and slow growing and can get choked by weeds. Try laying clear plastic on the bare ground for a month before planting out the onions. The weed seeds will germinate in the warmth and moisture, and you can rake them away. Otherwise mulch like mad. (If you can get hold of oak leaves for mulch they'll suppress weed seed germination, but won't affect the onion seedlings.)
Don't feed onions too much- you'll leaf but no onion.If your soil is poor, scatter blood and bone or old hen manure on top of a low nitrogen mulch like sawdust, old leaves, or old hay.
Don't keep carrots near fruit- the skin may turn bitter as ethylene is released from the fruit. Don't store spuds with fruit either, especially apples, or they'll sprout earlier. If you can be bothered, wrap fruit in newspaper- it'll keep longer- or fill the fruit box with clean dry sand. Root vegetables need some humidity or they'll wither (ever wondered why shop bought carrots look lush while your start to shrivel) Keep them in plastic bags with air holes, or in damp sand. Tomatoes ripen best in crumpled newspaper- and the newspaper will absorb the juice if any rot, so the rest won't be affected.
Beware of codlin moth breeding in your apple store- more apples are infected with codlin moth in storage than on the tree. (Friends bought a case of organic apples a few months ago- every apple had codlin moth- yet the case was codlin moth free when it left the farm. It had been infected during storage with the wholesaler)
Codlin moth love to live around apple storage sheds and kitchens and laundries, as well as near trees. It's worth while leaving small open jars of sweet port (or molasses and water if you have an alcoholic cat) near stored apples to trap the moths. Try pasting a few sheets of newspaper over the apple boxes to stop codlin moth and fruit fly getting in.
In most areas there are few pest outbreaks at this time of year. But you may have overwintering populations, especially of fruit fly and codlin moth, and any remaining fruit or windfalls should be rigorously checked to prevent an early pest build up when the weather warms.This is also a good time to think about planting to reduce pest problems next year.
If you have apple trees let parsnips or other umbellifera go to seed now and spring up wild around the orchard to reduce codlin moth infestations. This is extraordinarily effective, though I don't know the mechanism- whether the flowers attract predators or inhibit the moths.Tansy planted under apples is also supposed to reduce codlin moth, but I haven't found it works here- in fact pungent tansy just seems to make fallen fruit less attractive to wombats sheep etc, and uneaten fallen fruit is the best way to breed codlin moth.
Mid winter is the classic time for preventative spraying with bordeaux against curly leaf (pinkish raised blisters on peaches and almonds), rust, shot hole ( small holes in leaves, most common on apricots) brown rot ( exactly that- a brown soft rot on fruit, sometimes with a furry outside) black leaf spot, bacterial blight in walnuts and other fungal and bacterial conditions.
I try to avoid preventative spraying for anything.Even curly leaf, which is disfiguring, usually doesn't harm the tree unless it is very young, or the disease is so bad that new shoots wither and fruit sets badly. But if you have had problems with the above conditions in the past, or your neighbours have, or you have young trees you wish to cherish, it is probably best to give them a bordeaux spray when they are dormant.In very bad cases spray at leaf fall and again at bud swell- just before buds start to colour. Otherwise one spray should be enough.
Put Some Zest in Your backyard (citrus zest, that is!)
If I never ate another home grown mandarin in my life (though to be honest I'll probably eat another two while I write this I'd still grow backyard citrus, simply for their winter looks. Just as the grass looks dull and most flowers die of, most citrus start glowing from their green laves.
Kid's Delight: Mandarins - kids who have refused to eat citrus for years will guzzle down mandarins they pick themselves.
Cook's Treat: Tahitian limes, for the juicy fruit (A real flavour burst compared to lemons) or Kaffir Limes for their leaves
Most Elegant Citrus: Chinotto, for the neat pointed and restrained decorator's delight type shape. the tiny, slightly musty flavoured fruit (sometimes called Italian Cola) look stunning all winter. . Great in pots.
Juicer's Joy: Blood oranges. That deep red juice also makes great slushies.
Most Fascinating citrus; Buddha's Hand citrons- thick fragrant peel, juice like a lemon, and a definite conversation starter shape (even if the conversation is just 'what the heck is that!' )
Most Heat Hardy Citrus: pomelos, like giant overgrown grapefruit. They'll also grow down south if you want a massive fruit to boast about.
Best Marmalade Treat: cumquats, calamondins (like a sourer cumquat) pink grapefruit, or sour but intensely flavoured Seville oranges.
Most Cold Hardy Citrus: Bush lemons (will survive drought too) Eureka lemons (NOT Meyer lemons)
Best Potted Citrus: Meyer lemons, Chinotto, dwarf oranges, cumquats, calamondins
Native Citrus: hunt out are Australian Round Limes- not much juice, but fragrant, and very hardy.
Possible citrus problems: pale yellow leaves: feed feed and feed, with compost or complete citrus food in spring and mid summer. Most backyard citrus are half starved! Mulch and keep moist too- citrus are shallow rooted
. Scabby citrus: can be a disease or insect or cold damage. Just ignore it.
.Dropping fruit- too little or too much water
. Sap sucking bugs and other pests: vacuum off- seriously- with your vacuum cleaner then get rid of the pest stuffed bag, or use Pestoil. as directed on the container.
Pot Plant Renovations
. cover up daggy bare soil with coloured pebbles- there's a great selection at most nurseries
. dust! Or wipe over with a damp cloth- a dusty plant looks tatty and can't breathe either.
. never used those giant brandy balloons or glass vases you were given last Christmas? Turn them into an instant water garden with shade tolerant pond plants like twisted rush or many of the aquarium plants. Rinse glasses every week to stop algae growing.
.invest in some bright 'cache' pots to match your decor, then slip in 'bloomers' still in their plastic pots. Mulch the top with coconut fibre (also from nurseries) to hide any gap between the two pots.
. buy small plastic pots of herbs for your windowsill, then hide the ugly plastic in a long rectangular vase
. fill a basket with brightly blooming polyanthus or daffodils or hyacinths, , then hide the plastic pots with moss from nursery or florist.
. go for drama with the elegant foliage of Strelitzias or Dracaenas, or brighten dull spots with 'never say die' aspidistras and kentia palms- they may not grow much in low lights areas, but they'll survive
. don't overfeed or water! Water only when the soil is dry, and use slow release fertilisers. If the plant looks sick, it may need more light or have scale , not more tucker!
. use Pestoil- a light, non toxic oil covering- to suffocate indoor pests.
. don't liberate your indoor plant outside! many can become real weeds- and others like umbrella trees can become monsters that can disturb your house foundations!
What to Plant in June
Frost free climates
passionfruit vines and seeds mixed salad leaves, apple cucumbers, butter beans, huge New guinea beans, coloured capsicum, Chinese cabbage, chillies, chokos, sweet potatoes, long oval eggplant, melons, okra, rosellas, pumpkin, shallots, sweet corn, tomatoes. Try deep pots of parsley- the roots may rot in hot damp soil.
Plants for beauty: alyssum, calendula, cleome, coleus, gerbera, petunias, phlox, salvia, torenia, zinnia,
Cold to Temperate:
Plants to eat: seeds of radish, onions, winter lettuce, silverbeet, spinach, broad beans, peas, snow peas, winter lettuce, spring onions, parsnips, fast maturing Asian veg like tatsoi, pak choi and mitsuba. Seedlings of beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chicory, leeks, lettuce, leeks, spinach.
Plants for beauty: seeds of alyssum, calendula, lunaria. Seedlings of Californian poppy, evening primrose, gazanias, primulas, pansies, polyanthus, Iceland poppies, viola.
Jobs for June
. if you garden looks bare, mooch about your area, to see what's blooming- or visit some Open Gardens for good ideas.
. water! Cold days- and especially cold windy days- dry plants and soil more than you think. a lot of 'cold damage' is often just lack of water!
. prune most vines now, thinning out messy wood, but not spring flowering ones- leave those till after they've bloomed
.plant bare rooted roses. they look like dead sticks now, but in a few mots they'll be glorious
. winter is the time to move shrubs in the wrong place- but most native plants don't transplant well. It's best just to plant new ones!