June 2013 To-Do List: Pacific Northwest

Susan Wells

THD-plant-crop-stakes-630x240The long growing season and mild winters of the coastal Northwest mean lots of crops can be grown almost year round. So take advantage by planting in succession the vegetables you want to eat for the longest period. All greens, lettuces, onions, and some herbs can be planted a few rows at a time every two weeks up through the end of June to keep harvesting until first frost and beyond. Fast ripening varieties of corn and beans may also be planted every few weeks to extend their harvest. When you get tired of something or it stops producing, pull it out and put something else in its place.

Annuals

•    Many annual flower seeds will germinate when sowed directly in the warm soil of June, so try planting some: zinnias, marigolds, and nasturtiums.

•    Deadhead pansies and petunias and other annuals. Pinch back anything that gets leggy to make it bush out and bloom again.

•    Try some tall annuals, like sunflower or cosmos, toward the back of the border or around your vegetable garden fence. They will bring in pollinators and birds by the drove. When the blooms are spent, don’t forget to save seeds for next year.

Perennials

•    Mid-summer blooming perennials must deal with the dry weather the Pacific Northwest has during the year, so plant those that can cope when the rain stops: Campanula (Bell Flower), Gaura, Rose Campion, Lamb’s Ears and Red Hot Poker. There are others, but these are tried and true.

•    For shade try something new: Disporum, commonly called fairy bells for the bright yellow flowers it dons in spring.  There are also a number of new hosta cultivars out to liven up this old favorite. Look at your garden center for some of the bold new varieties with variegated leaves, big size, and unusual colors.

•  In dappled shade, try goatsbeard, a native astilbe that grows to five feet tall with tall plumes of creamy flowers.

Vegetables

•    Keep planting seeds of spinach, lettuce, kale, chard, and arugula to keep harvesting until frost. Harvest leaves that are big enough in a cut and come again method to keep the plants from going to seed and keep you in leafy greens for dinner.

•    Harvest everything that is ripe to keep plants producing. If strawberries, squash, cucumbers or melons are left to ripen fully on the vine, the plant will stop producing.

•    Keep tomatoes heavily mulched and keep the lower leafy branches pinched off. Most tomato diseases are soil borne, so keeping leaves off the ground is the way to prevent them. Keep tomato vines to one or two stems for best fruit production.

•    Plant beans and corn in succession to keep harvesting until frost.

Trees/Shrubs

•    Prune spring flowering shrubs before the end of June, ahead of the formation of next year’s flower buds.

•    Container grown trees and shrubs can be planted any time, but make sure they can be regularly watered during the warmer, dryer months of summer.

Lawn

•    Fescue grasses grow well in this region and can take some of the shade our big conifers dish out. Fescue is a cool season grass, though, so don’t fertilize or plant unless temperatures are under about 70 degrees.

•    Mow often, keeping the mower set at 3.5 or 4 inches. Keeping grass a bit long during the drier months helps conserve water and keep the turf healthy.

•    Cut no more than a third of the blade length at any one time and let the cuttings fall to return nutrients to the soil.

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