The Gardener's June Calendar ~ 2017



New England springs are pretty dramatic. One day it's chilly, windy, and you're layering up clothing in order to go outside. The next day it's 90 degrees and you're sweating while you walk across the garden pulling out weeds.

That's how this June is beginning in Central Connecticut, with sequential days of clouds and rain, which makes the fight against weeds and a tidy-looking lawn especially difficult.

Here are some things to keep in mind for the garden this month, sorted into three categories:



Young gypsy moth caterpillars.
  • Gypsy moth caterpillars – Connecticut is dealing with a large outbreak of gypsy moth caterpillars this year, a caterpillar that reminds me of the prickly caterkillers in the Sonic the Hedgehog games of my childhood. Last year served as a preview of this years outbreak, with my back patio covered in caterpillar frass at one point (totally gross). This year I've been killing them as I find them on my plum trees, wisteria, the siding of my house ... all bets are off on these munchers because there are so many of them that they can skeletonize trees pretty quickly. Usually the caterpillars prefer oak trees, but I can affirm that they are adapting to eating my maple and black walnut leaves instead. It's possible to use Tanglefoot and duct tape on the trunks of trees to try and prevent them from reaching the leaves, but so far I've just been knocking them off as I find them and killing them that way. I haven't sprayed because I don't want to hurt the beneficial bugs living in my garden. It's definitely a bit unnerving to hear the chewing of the leaves and the falling of the frass when I am in the back garden. 
  • Hummingbirds – Keep hummingbirds coming back to your garden by offering a continuous bloom cycle. Click here to find out the plants that are especially alluring to these beauties. 
  • National Pollinator Week – Wildflowers make a great addition to any garden, and are definitely pollinator friendly. For tips on adding them to your garden plans, click here. For my pollinator picks, click here.
  • Vegetables – Edible planting continues into this month. Succession sowing is the way to keep vegetables going all summer. Beans, carrots, and herbs such as basil and cilantro are plants that can be sown every two weeks to keep a successive harvest. 
  • Pinch perennials – Pinch back perennials this month to maximize blossoming potential and to promote bushier growth. Learn how to do it here. Plants that fall into this category include bee balm, phlox, Montauk daisies and mums, to name a few. If you stagger the height of the plants in front, the ones in back will bloom first, which will maximize your flowering period. 
  • Pruning shrubs – Right after the lilacs, rhododendrons and azaleas bloom is the best time to prune to avoid cutting off next year's flower buds. (This has to be done within four to six weeks in order to not stunt growth.)
  • Seeds – It's not too late to sow! In growing areas such as mine, it's still OK to start many seeds now because they will grow quickly with the warm soil. I've sowed zinnias as late as July in my garden, but it's nicer to get them in the ground earlier so you can appreciate their blooms longer. 
  • Fruit Trees – Last year I lost my crop due to the Feb. 14 freeze that killed off the area's peaches as well as some late freezes in April when my trees were about to flower. To prevent breakage, make sure the proper supports are in place to support bending branches. 
  • Fertilize – At the beginning of the month, it's time to fertilize fruit trees, roses and vegetables (organically). Also, as I learned in a past lecture to feed containers with a liquid fertilizer at half strength every two weeks. Again, to do this organically, you can use seaweed fertilizer or the "juice" from worm bins.


  • Attract butterflies – Plant host plants of dill, fennel or carrots to attract black swallowtail butterflies. Plant milkweed or butterfly weed in the garden to attract monarch butterflies.
  • Bulbs – Keep deadheading spent blooms and leave the foliage until the leaves wither away. My neighbor grows hostas over her daffodils in her shady driveway, which do a surprisingly good job of hiding the fading leaves. Daylilies serve the same purpose in a sunny location. Be sure to make sure that the foliage still gets some sunlight, otherwise the bulb will not be able to store food for next spring. 
  • Lavender – Check out my past interview with the lavender guru Denise Salafia where she offers tips on how to grow this (sometimes picky) herb successfully in your garden.
  • Perennials and shrubs – Keep an eye out at independent garden centers for exciting plants to add to your garden this year. I'm always scouting for delphiniums and hydrangeas. Click here for information on growing delphiniums and click here for growing compact hydrangeas in your garden. 



  • Edible flowers - If you have time to spice up your teas or salads, this past interview with Kassandra Moss from Natureworks explains which flowers are safe to use.

What are you up to in your garden this month?

I live in Central Connecticut and garden in Zone 6b.

Comments

  1. Fortunately we have very few caterpillars in my garden in northern CT. They were eating a small weeping purple beech so I sprayed with Safer insecticidal soap (which I believe is organic)and that worked.

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    1. Nice! Glad you were able to save the beech!

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  2. I'd never heard of gypsy moths until yesterday when I read a synopsis of a new novel entitled 'Gypsy Moth Summer' and now I happen on a second reference. They sound detestable! My climate (coastal Southern California, zone 10b) is very different. Although we've been enjoying the heat-tempering effects of what we call "June Gloom," we're quickly moving into full-blown summer mode now and the emphasis is on mulch to retain moisture, hydration, and nurturing the seedlings of heat-tolerant plants.

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    1. How funny that there is a book with them in the title! They *are* detestable! Luckily I think their life cycle is about complete, and hopefully we will get a break from the misery. I have black walnut leaves all over the back garden, half chewed by the caterpillars ... lots to clean up.

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