What to Do in the Garden Now

Time to get those warm-season crops in the ground! Transplant tomatoes, peppers and eggplant seedlings and starts. Direct seed beans, okra, melons, squash and cucumbers. Plant more quick succession plants like lettuces, arugula, beets, carrots, radishes, cilantro and dill. (Wondering what to grow in your first vegetable garden? We have tips.)

hail damaged tomato plant

Resilient tomato plants push new growth after hail damage.

If you planted any of these varieties earlier in the season, they may have been damaged by the hail that hit much of the Twin Cities this spring. I remember when a freshly planted field of hundreds of tomatoes was shredded by hail in 2017. Tomatoes are magical in so many ways, one being that they can recover and produce bountifully from suckers even if hail strips their leaves and tops. Just watch for diseases as hail damaged plants are often more susceptible to fungal and bacterial issues.

It's also a good idea to provide early support to crops that need it. Add cages or trellising materials to support tomatoes, peppers, beans and even squash and melons.

Plant warm season herbs like basil and rosemary now, too. If your herbs are tall and spindly, pinch them back now for bushier growth (and enjoy the bonus of an early harvest!). With basil, it's best to pinch off the top four leaves back down to where they attach to the stem.

Pinch flowers off newly planted strawberries for the first week or two—this helps them channel energy into growing new roots and leaves, which will allow them to be even more productive in the long run. Now is also a good time to mulch the plants with straw to keep the developing fruit clean. Try using your harvest in our strawberry mint smoothie.

garlic scapes

Harvest fresh garlic scapes for cooking.

Did you plant garlic last fall? Keep an eye out for emerging scapes in June. A scape is the flower bud of the garlic plant. They start out curling around and straighten as they mature. My goal is to catch them which they have two loops before they start to straighten out and bring them in the kitchen. Cut them off back above the first leaves and use them like a garlic-flavored green bean in stir fries, on pizza, with pasta or even in omelets. Or just mince them up and use anywhere you would garlic.

Scouting for pests and pest damage is an important June garden activity. Pests to watch out for this month? Cutworms love to decapitate seedlings—try using collars of tin foil or even cardboard (empty toilet paper rolls cut in half work great) around stems to protect plants. Watch out for imported cabbage butterfly caterpillars on Brassicas, and promptly remove any you find. Same goes for Colorado Potatoes Beetles, often found on nightshade family members like potatoes and eggplants.

Stay on top of weeds now while they're small. The best time to cultivate the soil is when the weeds are at the white thread stage, meaning they're very small and dislodging them from the soil is all it takes to disrupt their growing. As they get bigger, they'll take more and more work to remove. My favorite tool for weeding is a stirrup or hula hoe. You can glide across the soil and undercut any tiny weeds that are coming up.



Hort society community programs director Courtney Tchida has a degree in Environmental Horticulture, a master's in Agricultural Education and a certificate in Permaculture Design. For 16 years, she managed Cornercopia, the University of Minnesota's student-run organic farm.

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