At last the threat of frost has passed and the longest day of the year comes at the end of the month. With this brings the prospect of summer vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, courgettes and peppers. All of which were planted from the beginning of May At Trill. We had a cold start to May, and it is always best to not rush into planting these tender crops too early, otherwise you end up worrying about frosts and having to fleece crops that are already stringed up which can be a bit of a nightmare.
The market garden at Trill is mostly planted up by June, and usually looks its best—before earlier crops start to fade a little, and there is still the vibrancy of late Spring lingering on. It is a time when we start to see some of early crops being replaced by successions of salads, and the salad mix can have a huge variety of leaves, with various lettuce varieties as the summer stalwarts. We especially like Cerbiatta, and you can’t beat Maureen a lovely little gem. One of our favourite leaves at this time of year is agretti which we grow in tunnels for the more tender salad leaves, and outside as a vegetable to blanch. It is an Italian vegetable likened to samphire—with a slightly salty crunchiness. It is notoriously difficult to germinate, and we find it best to save our own seed—leaving a few plants to mature without harvesting them, and simply hanging them up in the polytunnel from October time, where the seed ripens further. We then sow it from January successionally through to April or May.
Other leaves that we are harvesting at the moment include summer purslane and goosefoot (Magentaspreen from Real Seed Catalogue)—we grow these in polytunnels, but they will do fine in a fairly warm dryish summer outside too. Also salad burnet, chervil, amaranth, fenugreek, nasturtiums, peashoots and endive to name a few.
For us June is definitely a time to reflect on all of the planning and work that has gone into the market garden over winter and spring, when we can look at the garden and be proud of how productive and beautiful it is. However, the work certainly doesn’t stop there, and there is plenty to do to keep the weeds down, and ensure beds are constantly being utilised. We aim to have plants in trays ready to be planted when another crop is slowing down and not producing much anymore, this means that there is little bare soil in the summer months. As the early spring crops such as radish, peas and broad beans begin to fade we usually mow them down and cover the beds with black silage plastic to help kill off any weeds and speed up the breaking down process. It usually takes around 3 weeks for the crop residues to break down enough to take off the plastic, rake and plant something new—so its always good to have something ready for planting in place of old crops.
WHAT TO SOW THIS MONTH: purple sprouting broccoli & January King type winter cabbage (early this month), french beans, beetroot, chard, carrots, basil, late cucumbers, kale, fennel, salad leaves—summer purslane, buckshorn plantain, salad burnet, lettuce, chicory (Treviso and Palla Rossa varieties early in the month, other varieties later), endive, mustards and rocket (mesh to keep flea beetle off), goosefoot, anise hyssop, amaranth, orache, nasturtiums.
WHAT TO PLANT THIS MONTH:
OUTSIDE: Dwarf french beans, beetroot, squash and corn (if not already done), lettuce and salads, squash, corn, runner beans, kale, chard,
INSIDE: climbing french beans, cucumbers, basil, salads—goosefoot, summer purslane
OTHER IMPORTANT TASKS THIS MONTH: Still keeping on top of weeds—especially important early on after planting out crops or direct sowing, to minimise competition from weeds, and minimise slug habitat. Undersow squash with a mix of red and white clovers, yellow trefoil, and other cornfield wildflowers—this will help to fix nitrogen, but more importantly cover the soil and provide organic matter and living roots for soil organisms to benefit from.
We are running Salad Growing courses on July 13th and October 19th – see trillfarmgarden.co.uk/courses for further details.