To do on your plot in June


Salad crops should be available, lettuce, spring onion, radish etc, Summer cabbage and early carrots.

The early potatoes will be coming in this month as well as Beetroot, young turnips and summer spinach. Early peas could well be cropping in June.

Sowing, Planting and Cultivating


As with May, we really need to keep on top of the weeds. Hoeing them off as small seedlings will make the job far easier than waiting for them to grow and send their roots down.

Continue thinning out your carrots, parsnips, beetroot etc. Water when required.

In very dry weather, keeping the surface friable by hoeing will help keep the water from getting to the surface by capillary action and then evaporating away. It also helps water soak in when you do get some rain.


You should be able to plant out brassicas now. Broccoli and calabrese, Brussels sprouts, summer cabbage.

If you have started beans in pots, both runner and French these can go into the outside too. Leeks may well be ready to move to their final position. Celery can go out now as well.

Outdoor tomatoes can go to their final position now. When moving plants from greenhouse to outdoors it is a good idea to condition them to the move. Take them out in the day and put them back at night for a few days or move from greenhouse to coldframe. This avoids shocking the plant by a sudden and drastic change in climate.


There is a lot to sow this month and with many crops you can sow one set and then a few weeks later re-sow to give you a succession of fresh vegetables. In dry weather it is a good idea to soak your seed drill before sowing and then just water with a fine rose after.

  • French and Runner Beans
  • Maincrop peas
  • Beetroot
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Swedes
  • Cauliflowers
  • Chicory
  • Endive
  • Kohlrabi
  • Sweetcorn
  • Squash
  • Courgette and Marrows
  • Cucucumber

In the greenhouse

Keep pinching off the side shoots with your tomatoes and keep an eye out for pests such as aphids, whitefly, red spider mite. If you are subject to attack by these pests it is worth checking out biological controls as these are perfectly safe to use and, used correctly, more effective than traditional chemical controls. Many of the chemical controls of the past are no longer available anyway so the organic alternatives are now the mainstream choice.


Make sure your fruiting plants have sufficient water when the fruit is swelling. This is critical to a good crop.

Thin out plums and apples in June.

General Tasks

Slugs and snails are at ground level so take action to keep them down and remember birds will eat your crops. Don’t forget the netting.

The butterflies are about now as well so check the undersides of your brassica leaves for the yellow or white eggs that will hatch into caterpillars and devastate the plant. You can squash them, wipe or wash them off easily at this stage.



To grow the best-hearting cabbages you will need a firm, well-consolidated soil that has not been freshly manured. That means digging over the ground several months prior to planting and adding plenty of well-rotted manure or compost as you do so.

My greatest successes always seem to come when I plant young cabbages in ground that hasn’t been dug for 10 months. For example, this month I’ll be planting young spring cabbages in soil that was dug back in November; plenty of well-rotted manure was incorporated at that time and the soil was then used variously for legumes (peas, beans) or leafy salad veg. Now that it’s time for growing cabbages on that ground, any excess nitrogen within the manure has dissipated, leaving behind solid, fertile soil that’s high in humus content (essential for good plant growth).

Cabbages do best in a soil with a pH of 6–7. If the soil is too acidic (less than 6), it is important to put down lime a month or so before planting to balance it out. If your soil is sandy, apply ground limestone at the rate of 200g per 1m2; use 50 percent more on loamy ground and 50 percent more again if it is clay. These quantities should raise the pH level by one point or so.

Clubroot thrives in damp, acidic conditions, so the soil should be free-draining to help ensure it doesn’t become a problem. If needs be, improve the drainage by adding a 45cm depth of shingle. Good crop rotation will also help to prevent the build-up of clubroot and other soil-borne problems.


You should get spring cabbages underway from mid-to late summer (the young plants should be transplanted during early to midautumn). Sow the seeds in a nursery bed outside (to save space on the plot proper) or use trays or modules under cover.

If you’re sowing outdoors, put down a garden line (a string between two pegs will do) and use it as a guide for creating a drill 1cm deep, using a draw hoe or the corner of a sharp metal rake to do so. Water the row using a can with a fine rose end attachment then sow the seed thinly along it. Lightly rake the drill, knocking the soil back over the seeds, and gently tamp over the area with the back of the rake. If you’re sowing multiple rows ensure there is at least 15cm between each one. After germination, thin out the seedlings to 8cm apart to prevent them becoming weak and spindly due to overcrowding.

If you’re sowing in trays or modules fill them with seed compost to within 2.5cm from the top. Lightly sprinkle the seeds on the surface, cover them (preferably using a wide-mesh sieve) with 1cm of the compost, and water.

However they are sown, transplant the seedlings to their permanent position when they are 10cm in height and have grown five or six leaves. If you’re transplanting from a nursery bed, water the rows the day before. This will soften the soil, aiding lifting and minimising root and stem damage. If you don’t get around to sowing, garden centres are increasingly stocking young plants at this time.


For traditional hearting cabbages, the young plants should be spaced at 25–30cm intervals in the row. For spring greens, grow the leafy purpose-bred varieties 20–25cm apart, or space normal spring cabbage varieties just 10–15cm apart and harvest the leaves while they are immature. In all cases the rows should be at 25–30cm spacings.

Late summer temperatures are quite important for these cabbages. For example, they tend to be at their best in the 15–20°C range and will suffer if transplanted when the weather is above 25°C. Remember, these plants are hardy, being able to survive the winter, and in trials have stuck it out at -10°C.

Firm planting is important, so don’t be afraid to really press down on the soil around the transplanted seedlings, but be careful not to damage the stem. Water the young plants straight after transplanting and again every few days until they are well established – this means for the first couple of weeks or so. Straight after watering it is wise to place felt discs around the stems of the plants to help avoid attacks from cabbage root fly .


Spring cabbages are ready to harvest from mid- to late spring, when the heart is firm to the touch. They should be used straight away – they do not store well (unlike Dutch winter white and some red cabbages which can be stored for several months in a cool, frost-proof shed).

If you don’t immediately need the ground on which the cabbages are growing for another crop, you can produce a second harvest from the stumps – but the cabbages need to be growing in good conditions and be generally healthy. Start by harvesting the main cabbage; slice the head cleanly from its stalk, using a sharp knife and making the cut some 5cm or so up from the ground. Then cut a cross shape 1cm deep into the stump. This will sprout a cluster of smaller cabbages.

If the ground is needed straight away for a crop of something else, harvest spring cabbages by lifting whole plants with a fork. Cut off the roots and stem, and remove the coarser, yellowing or damaged outer leaves.

If you have a glut and can’t use all your spring cabbages quickly, they can be frozen – but only freeze fresh heads of the best quality. Wash and coarsely shred the cabbage, then blanch it (quickly immerse it in boiling water) for about a minute. Dry it and pack into polythene bags or rigid plastic containers.

Sweet Corn


Ideally the ground will be moisture retentive but not allowed to ever become saturated during wet spells. Work in plenty of rotted manure or compost the autumn or winter before planting so that it has plenty of time to be incorporated – aim for a bucket load per square metre. This extra organic matter will improve the structure of the soil, increase the level of nutrients available to the plants and help the ground to warm up quicker in the spring (sweet corn needs plenty of heat). About a week before planting out or sowing the seeds add a good scattering of organic fertiliser pellets, such as concentrated chicken manure, and rake the soil level. Don’t worry too much if you missed the opportunity to prepare the plot last autumn, as you should still get good results by digging over the soil this spring and incorporating compost now.


Plenty of sunshine is crucial if the plants are to grow strongly, so aim for a south-facing aspect that will be warm and sheltered. This is probably even more vital to the success of a crop than the soil conditions. Shelter is important as the tall plants will be liable to excessively bend and flex in exposed locations. If you want to sow seeds directly outside in May, then position cloches over the future rows two weeks before the sowing date to warm the soil and speed germination.

Seedlings are not tolerant of frost, which means the earliest you can sow outside directly is mid May. In southern counties you may get away without using cloches or horticultural fleece to warm the soil beforehand, although these will certainly help to make the conditions better. Wait until the soil has dried out slightly before sowing and then set out your seeds in pairs at a depth of 2cm. Space each sowing hole 45cm apart within the row and each row 60cm apart. To maximise the chances of successful wind pollination, plan for a near-square arrangement (see ‘Blowing in the wind’ box).

Alternatively, sow indoors or in a greenhouse from April onwards. Use a quality seed or multipurpose compost. Seedlings hate having their roots disturbed, so sow directly into 7cm fibre pots or home-made versions created using loo roll centres. This will give a good depth of compost for the roots to grow into. They’ll also be able to burst through these make-shift containers, which can be planted whole to reduce the chances of unsettling the roots. Place the seeds 2cm deep in the pots and maintain a minimum temperature of 16°C while they germinate. Once they are through, grow them on at temperatures of no less than 10°C. This shouldn’t be a problem in most greenhouses at springtime.

The seedlings, which look like blades of grass, will appear within two weeks. Remove the weaker of the two to leave one per pot or outdoor sowing station. Keep the covers in place outside as the plants grow, and only remove them once the young plants touch the tops of the cloches or reach 10cm in height under the fleece.

Greenhouse or indoor-raised seedlings can be planted out when they are about 15cm tall and after all chances of frost have gone. Harden them off beforehand by gradually introducing them to their new home over a week or two. Plant them out at the same spacings as you would directly-sown seeds. Water thoroughly to settle the soil around them, and keep the young plants tenderly watered as they establish.


Sweet corn is very easy to grow once plants are established and is rarely affected by pests and diseases. However, to maintain a steady rate of growth you will need to water consistently after the feathery male and silky female flowers appear. At this stage, plants will grow better if given a liquid feed that’s high in potash – any organic tomato feed should do the job, applied as per the packet instructions, usually once or twice a fortnight. You can help the pollination process by gently tapping or shaking the plants after the male flowers appear.

Plants can reach up to 1.8m tall, which means that if your site isn’t well sheltered you may need to individually stake plants by tying them into bamboo canes wedged next to them. Another method of offering extra support is to bank up the soil against the base of each stem into which new roots can grow to anchor the plant. If any roots appear above ground you will, in any case, need to cover them over with soil or compost. Side shoots, known as tillers, may also appear near the base – leave these intact, as removing them can reduce the yield.


Early varieties of sweet corn will yield their first cobs in late July or early August, while the season comes to a close with late-developing types in October. An old American saying advises that you should walk to the plants to harvest your cobs and run back with them – a tradition worth adhering to, because freshness is of the essence! A flat sprint may be a little extreme, but it is true that the high sugar levels that have been bred into sweet corn begin converting to starch within hours of picking. That’s why the taste of freshly-plucked home-grown corn is so superior to shop-bought versions.

You will know it is almost time for picking when the silky tassels on the developing cobs turn a chocolate brown and start to wither. At this point, gently peel back the protective sheath to inspect the corn. Squeeze a kernel with your thumb nail. If a clear liquid oozes out then wait a little while longer, but if a creamy elixir appears then it’s time to pick your crop. If there’s no liquid you have waited too long. Harvest the cobs by twisting them sharply away from the plant, or use a pair of secateurs to cut them free. In a good summer you may get two per plant but don’t be disappointed if you only achieve one.



The earliest sowings can be made under cloches from the end of February, but more reliable results will be had by waiting until mid-March or April.

Mark out your rows by stretching a taut string between two canes and drawing a hoe along the line to create straight drills. Make them about 1cm deep and, if you are sowing more than one row, space each one 30cm apart. Do this on a still day as the papery seeds are easily blown away by sudden gusts of wind.


Place one seed every 2cm along the drill. Alternatively, position three every 15cm – a process known as ‘station sowing’. If the weather is dry, irrigate the rows using a rose-fitted watering can before you start to sow. Cover the drills back over with sieved soil and water for a second time. Mark the ends of each row so you know exactly where the seedlings will appear. This will make it easier to weed around the crop.

You will only need to make one sowing but if space on your plot is at a premium, cultivate radishes or another quick-grower such as cut-and-come-again salad leaves between the rows of parsnips to make maximum use of the ground. These will be long gone before the slow-maturing plants need the extra room.

Parsnips don’t germinate in a hurry, so patience is a virtue here. Expect the first shoots to push through in about two weeks and the final seedlings to make an appearance after another two.

Keep the seedbeds as weed free as possible – remove unwanted plants by hand to avoid disturbing the soil along the rows. Once the seedlings are about 2cm tall you can start thinning the plants to their final spacings. If you have station sown your seeds then take out all but the strongest seedling at each position. Alternatively, if one was sown every 2cm, remove excess plants to leave a seedling every 7cm then, once they have grown on a little, every 15cm or so. Do not be tempted to re-plant your thinnings as they will be unlikely to grow properly.


Early parsnips started off under cloches can have their coverings removed once they have grown a couple of adult leaves. Watering during the early stages encourages even germination and successful establishment of young seedlings. Once they are growing they are a very easy crop to look after.

Keep the young parsnips consistently moist and avoid the roots drying out at all costs or you may attract canker.

You can apply a mulch of grass clippings or similar between the crop to keep the moisture locked in. At all stages keep rows weed free. It’s safest to pull unwanted plants by hand, though light hoeing is also possible as long as you take care not to clip the parsnips’ roots. Damage that creates a wound will leave them vulnerable to canker entry. Any catch crops should be removed as soon as the leaves begin to close over. This will give them enough space as they grow on to maturity.


Although some parsnips can be lifted as early as late summer it is best to harvest after the foliage begins to die down at the beginning of November.

Wait for a few frosts before you begin lifting the roots. This causes the starch to convert to sugar, dramatically improving their flavour. Only lift what you need at any one time, leaving the remainder in the ground.

To unearth a root, insert a fork or spade some distance from the parsnip and rock it back and forth to loosen the soil. They have a firm grip, so you may find you have to literally dig them out to a depth of up to 45cm. Once the first parsnip is out of the ground it is easier to work your way along the row to extract the others.

In very cold parts of the country it’s prudent to lift a few roots early on in the winter and store them under cover in case the ground becomes frozen solid. Trim the tops off the lifted roots then wash and dry them before packing them into wooden boxes of dry sand. Keep these in a cool, dark and wellventilated place such as a garage or shed and eat within a few months.