June will have the ocean air moving inland, creating our famous fog, making it quite pleasant to garden into the midday. The hot days of summer are coming soon. When planting this month, choose transplants that aren’t root bound and spread roots out when planting. Confined roots can’t absorb enough moisture and nutrients to survive the stress of hot weather. Water early in the day to cut down on evaporation losses and also to give the leaves plenty of time to dry out before dark. Keeping seed packets refrigerated overnight will speed up germination.
• Sow or transplant Lima and snap beans, beets, carrots, celeriac, celery, chard, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, okra, and other heat-tolerant crops. Transplant tomatoes and peppers, as well as summer and winter squash.
• Plant the last batch of corn this month. Later plantings can develop a fungal problem called “smut” (those big, grey and black puffs of fungus in place of kernels).
• Lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme do fine in hot sun and poor but well-drained soil with minimal fertilizer and water.
• Basil, chives, cilantro, and parsley prefer richer soil with more watering.
• Plant seeds and seedlings close enough together so that the leaves of mature plants will shade the soil between them. This will keep roots cooler and weeds at bay. Mulch to reduce evaporation.
• When doing a succession replanting in areas where you’ve just grown vegetables, alternate heavy feeders (like corn, cabbage and spinach) with nitrogen replenishing legumes, such as beans and peas.
• Use nitrogen-rich compost, cottonseed meal or alfalfa meal for spinach, kale, and lettuce, since lush foliage is what we want.
• If your irises didn’t bloom as well this year, divide and separate them! Use a garden fork and carefully lift the clump out of the ground. The roots will have become intertwined, but can be coaxed apart. Replant immediately. If you are in the hottest areas of the inland valleys, wait until the weather cools down in October to divide irises.
• Try planting native perennial plants such as yarrow, penstemon, coral bells and Russian sage to provide brilliant color and encourage beneficial insects into the garden.
• June is a good month to plant avocado, banana, citrus, and guava in most areas (other than the interior valleys, where it just too hot). Keep them well watered.
• Following the “June Drop,” do the last of the pruning of your deciduous fruit trees. “June Drop” is nature’s way of reducing an overload of fruit (it can begin in the month of May and continue through July). Water your fruit trees well in June and July.
• Golden Rule: Never cut off more than 1/3 of your lawn’s height at any one time.
• Raise the height of your mower for cool season grasses, such as fescue, to let the blades shade roots in the heat.
• Feed your warm-season grasses, such as zoysia, every two months from March through September. When the turf color declines, it is time to feed.