June in the Southern Garden
June was originally fourth in the ancient Roman calendar -- and only 26 days long. Julius Caesar changed it to sixth and 30.
Rose, the flower of June, may be the world's most cherished blossom. Some rose varieties can grow to sixty feet. Rome once had such extensive rose gardens that Horace mentioned the "lack of space for growing vegetables." Full of symbolism and rich in historical significance, the rose appears on coats of arms and as a figure of speech. Georgia, New York, Iowa and North Dakota chose the rose for their official flower. With mulch, deep watering and heavy feeding, roses will bloom all summer.
Gardeners can still put in peanuts, sweet potatoes and yams. These require a long growing season and do best with warm nights. Throughout this month, clear off harvested crops and plant a second round of cucumber, melon, okra, field peas, pepper, tomato, beans and corn. Harvest these in September.
Feeding the soil is essential. Re-fertilize cleared areas with compost before sowing another crop. Use mulches to conserve water and keep plant roots cool.
By inter-cropping with sunflowers, tender plants receive relief from the merciless summer heat. A sunflower fence will give bright blooms and can shade the western sun. Old timers put summer gardens under high canopy trees.
During June, put in bedding plants of Aster, Ageratum, Coreopsis, Carnation, Dianthus, Gloriosa lily, Larkspur, Marigold and Petunia.
By the end of June, closely cut back Chrysanthemums to produce more compact flower growth in the fall. Feed all shrubs, vines and trees that you care about and water them deeply.
Thin out the new-forming fruit from your trees to keep from overloading their branches. Fruit that remains will be larger.
When you must mow, have the mower set at the highest elevation. The extra shade and photosynthesis surface will allow your lawn to express itself. Look closely, there may be areas you may choose to not mow and selectively weed by hand. Mowing never stops but hand weeding removes the undesirable. Natural ground covers are beautiful and economical and safe. Cement can be painted green.
Before a summer getaway, make sure your plant kingdom will be happy while your gone. Fast maturing crops like tomato, cucumber, squash and okra need continuous harvesting. Ask a friend to pick for you. They'll like that.
While you're traveling, if you see a good farmer's market, write to me about it.
Enjoy June to the fullest.
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