Early Summer Garden Tasks for a Happy Garden

By the time the month of June arrives, I like to think that I have many of my early-season garden tasks completed. However, this is rarely the case because in a garden, there is always something to do and a project that has not been completed. And, this has been quite a spring.

The spring of 2020 has been nothing like the norm, with the Covid-19 virus and its restrictions. Thank goodness I have a garden. I believe that those of us that do have a garden realize how fortunate we are. One might think that being at home without leave would have allowed me to complete many early-season garden tasks, but I cannot say that it has! Anyway, the start of summer brings about its own set of tasks to maintain garden harmony.

Early Summer Rose Care

The golden blooms of Julia Child® shine through summer, especially if deadheaded. (Photo Courtesy of © Weeks Roses)

Roses are in their first full bloom cycle, and, of course, after bloom comes the task of deadheading. This is not a particularly enjoyable task because of the thorns (long-cuffed rose-gloves are a must), but as I cut off the spent bloom stems I am encouraging new buds to emerge and will soon have a second surge of fresh flowers. Fertilizing roses after deadheading is recommended to further enhance continuous flowering in rebloomers.

It is also a good time to plant new rose bushes to see the flowers in real life in your garden, rather than in a picture. Be sure to choose varieties that resist common rose diseases, like black spot and powdery mildew. There are many to choose from, such as the gold-flowered ‘Julia Child’ and the compact roses in Proven Winners’ Oso Easy Series (click here to learn about disease-resistant roses and organic rose growing).

Early Summer Vegetable Garden Care

You can continue planting fast-to-produce vegetables up until late summer.

There has been a huge increase in the sales of vegetable seeds and plants by home gardeners this spring. If you have a location for an edible garden, it is not too late to plant it with summer vegetables, like tomatoes, peppers, beans, and squash. Prepare vegetable beds by adding natural & organic Black Gold Garden Compost Blend and thoroughly mixing it into the existing soil. If you have raised beds consider filling them with Black Gold® Natural & Organic Raised Bed & Potting Mix, which is OMRI Listed for organic gardening and specially formulated for raised-bed growing.

If planting tomatoes, get different varieties to prolong the fruiting season. Vining or indeterminant tomato plants need strong support from cages or stakes, which should be supplied at time of planting (click here to learn more about growing tomatoes). Beans and many summer squashes can still be planted from seed (click here to learn more about growing beans). Be on the lookout for cutworms, slugs, and snails as newly germinated seedling would be considered a delicacy. (Click here for a vegetable garden guide for new gardeners.)

Early Summer Rhododendron Care

Deadheading Rhododendron keeps the shrubs looking tidy.

Rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias have probably finished, or are nearly finished, with blooming. Remove the faded blossoms, being careful on rhododendrons not to remove the new growth that appears just below the developing seed heads of the old flowers. If rhododendrons or azaleas need pruning for space considerations, this is a good time because there is still time for the plant to produce new growth and set next year’s flower buds. Camellias should also be pruned directly after flowering.

Plant Something New

Gloriosa lilies are tropical vining lilies that bloom through summer’s warmth.

I think that most gardeners like to plant something new in their garden, and I am no exception. Last summer when visiting a garden, I saw pots of Gloriosa lily (Gloriosa superba ‘Rothschildiana’) in bloom. It has been many years since I had grown this tender perennial in my garden, and I had forgotten how beautiful the flowers were. Seeing these plants in full bloom last year, I knew that I had to try them again, so earlier this spring, I bought tubers and planted them in several large pots. Gloriosa lilies like rich soil, so I used Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Mix. Gloriosa lily is a vine with tendrils at the leaf tips, and so it does need some support, such as a medium-sized trellis. I am happy to say that my tubers are growing beautifully.

Hyacinth beans love warm weather and have beautiful flowers and pods.

As mentioned earlier in this article, it is a good time to plant beans, and not all beans are grown for food. An ornamental bean with colorful flowers and pods is the vining purple hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus). The heat-loving African native is easy to start from seed, fast-growing, and blooms over a long period of time with flowers and bean pods on display at the same time. Be sure to give it plenty of space to ramble because the twining vines can reach 15 feet or more.

The work in a garden is never done, and in my own garden, I always have a pair of hand clippers with me to trim off a spent flower or wayward branch. I try to make even the mundane chores interesting by thinking of the benefits they will reap. Even though we have monthly tasks, don’t let them be overwhelming. Keep your garden as a stress-free environment and a place for enjoyment and relaxation.

Happy June!

About Mike Darcy

Mike lives and gardens in a suburb of Portland, Oregon where he has resided since 1969. He grew in up Tucson, Arizona where he worked at a small retail nursery during his high school and college years. He received his formal education at the University of Arizona where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in Horticulture, and though he values his formal education, he values his field-experience more. It is hard to beat the ‘hands on’ experience of actually gardening, visiting gardens, and sharing information with other gardeners. Mike has been involved with gardening communications throughout his adult life. In addition to garden writing, he has done television gardening shows in Portland, and for over 30 years he hosted a Saturday radio talk show in Portland. Now he writes, speaks, gardens and continues to share his love of gardening. To be connected to the gardening industry is a bonus in life for Mike. He has found gardeners to be among the friendliest and most caring, generous people. Consequently, many of his friends he has met through gardening.

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