⏰ the late garden: what to plant in june 🥵
tips on surviving this heat + how to take baby steps towards the garden you're dreaming of
🥵 WOW IS IT HOT. 🥵 That’s all I can think, squinting at the weather app on my phone to see our upcoming 10 day streak of 90-98°, sweat dripping down my back.
It’s becoming apparent that the 3rd rain barrel is not going to be enough — and while you can garden perfectly well without a rain barrel system, I’m growing in such a large space that running the hose every morning feels like such a waste of resources when the rain dumps more than I could ever use.
Despite the heat, I am still happily working with some amazing people to design new gardens, trellises, landscaping, and figure out how to put in gardens now that it’s full blown summer. ☀️
My best advice for anyone wanting to grow is, don’t put it off. Start now.
There is always something you can do now — and since everything takes longer than expected, don’t wait until next-month-season-year-whatever. If you want to garden next year, GREAT. Build your beds now. Or just draw out the first draft of your designs now. Or pick out what fruit trees and shrubs you want now and do a tour of the local nurseries so you know what your options are and where you want to buy them from this fall. Order your bulbs while they’re on clearance so you get them cheaply. Buy your first set of grow lights for next spring’s indoor seeds before the prices get hiked around Christmas. Sign up for getchipdrop.com and let the free wood chips decompose on your property so that they’re ready to use in the fall or spring.
Summer is a dead zone for the garden industry which means everything is on sale, or the prices are just lower, or people like me will offer services for less. Anyone you purchase from will be grateful, everything will be less than buying next spring, and you will be putting good into the world. Now is a great time to start. 🦄
⏰ OKAY. SO WHAT CAN YOU PLANT IN YOUR GARDEN NOW? ⏰
I am installing a new garden for a client tomorrow here in Zone 7 and here is what we are planting:
Walking onions [transplanting]
Beans [a mix of transplants + seeds]
Summer Squash (Yellow and Zucchini) [transplanting]
Winter Squash (Acorn and Delicata) [transplanting]
Parsley and Basil [transplanting]
Here is what we are not planting and will wait until fall:
Lettuces and spinach
Brassicas [Kale, Cauliflower, Brussels, Broccoli, Cabbage]
Asian greens [we can’t find already-started mustards anywhere]
Here’s what we are experimenting* with:
Carrots [from seed]
Beets [from seed]
Radish [from seed]
*A note on this experiment: It’s very difficult to grow from seed in this heat. While these root veggies are considered both cool and warm season plants, they historically do better in cool seasons here. But my client has the space and it’s worth attempting even if only 50% germinate - and we are growing heat tolerant varieties. If starting from seed, try to put in some shade/row covers for the first 30 days and pay special attention to moisture levels.
If this sounds like a lot to plant in June, it is! I am also planting out so many of these as a second round of succession planting. I cannot have enough beans, cucumbers, or carrots.
Here are tips for planting these out and seeing them thrive:
Invest in soil with high organic matter and bacterial content. This soil will hold more moisture than normal, and keep it from drying out as rapidly in the hot sun. Purchase from a local nursery as they will have higher quality options than Lowes or Home Depot. [FoxFarm is great and has excellent distribution.]
Start with as large of starts/vegetable babies as you can find. The larger the root system, the more extreme the weather a plant can endure.
Make sure all starts are hardened off/transitioned to the area well. Do not move seedlings directly out of a grow station or greenhouse environment where they’ve been sheltered from direct sun and then plant immediately when it’s this hot, especially in full sun. Harden them off for 3-5 days beforehand to allow the leaves to adjust.
Water both mornings and evenings for the first 10 days. Yes, this is a lot. But since all your new plants likely have root systems exclusively in the top 2”, you need to ensure this soil does not fully dry out for more than a few hours. Generally, it’s better to water infrequently and deeply - but while roots are growing deep, do frequent and shallow.
Water as early in the morning as you can. This gives your plants the most amount of time to absorb water before the heat really hits.
Mulch where possible. Grass clippings, black and white newspaper (no color; the colored ink is toxic), wood chips, leaf mulch, cardboard pieces, anything to protect the soil. Note that you DO NOT want any of these materials to come into direct contact with the stem or leaves of the new plants, as this can “burn” the plant or cause nitrogen to be tied up immediately around the plant as the microbes consume it. Nitrogen will be released back into the soil once the microbes die and they are “mineralized,” but this is why it’s important to keep non-composted plant material on the surface of the dirt only and not mix directly into the soil where it’s at the plant root layer.
Get shade cloth/covers or temporary umbrellas. Today, I hilariously stuck some old campaign signs into my beds up against new transplants, so that as the afternoon sun set, my little lettuce babies [I know, I know] were in their shade. You can be clever in structures that you set up around plants to protect their young leaves; it doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. Bootstrap Farmer has a great resource here.
Plant trees, sunflowers, install lattices, or position your patio umbrella so that it casts shade on the garden in the late afternoon. This is a long term planning item, but I have trees planted to the west of the garden, and they throw everything into shade by 4pm. This is the saving grace of my garden in the late summer. I also recently noticed that a 4x4 area has sunflowers all around the edges (thank you chipmunks) and now the lettuces and herbs are getting dappled shade as the large sunflower leaves protect them from the blistering light.
🙋🏻♀️ Do you have any tips? 🙋🏻♀️ I am genuinely curious to hear and would love to chat about this more in the comments. Investing in ways to manage severe climate changes and extreme temps is top of mind for me, always — and I still have much to learn!
It’s been awhile since I’ve extended an invite to weekly office hours! If you wanna come join the garden club, become a paid subscriber to my little email and help support keeping this weekly newsletter free for everyone. On Thursdays, at 12pm EST and then again at 6pm, some of us hop on a video chat and talk about what’s going on our in gardens, trouble shoot pest management or other tricky things, or swap tips about what’s on sale and what we’ve learned. Recently we screen shared soil test results and collaborated on how to solve a nutrient imbalance problem. Fun fun. :)
Until next Friday — read some poetry, sing, look at the sky, and water your little ones.