Gardener’s Journal - June 2024

By Jenny Huddart, Head Gardener 

If May was the month of sowing and planting out, June was the month of staking, training and deadheading.

The carefully tended dahlias are now in, with stakes and stringlines in place, ready for the rapid growth now that we enter the warmer months. New varieties we are trying this year include Dahlia ‘Zundert Mystery Fox’ and Dahlia ‘Thomas A. Edison’.

Training of plants has also begun in the edible side of the garden too. ‘Tomato Tuesday’ has come into play with the weekly task of side shooting and twisting in of our cordon trained tomato and cucumber plants. This method trains the plant to concentrate on producing more flowers/fruit rather than this additional leafy growth. It already looks like it is going to be a great year in the Cucumber House.

Continuing in ‘training’ vein - this year we have constructed a ‘climbing frame’ using the old metal frames from the Melon House. By training the squash vines up the A frame vertically, it has enabled us to plant out twice as many plants rather than leaving them to sprawl across the same space. Varieties we are growing this year include Winter Squash ‘Desert Spirit Landrace’ – a vigorous plant that produces a wide range of colours and shaped fruit, and Pumpkin ‘Delicia Hybrid’ – a dark green pumpkin with an orange flesh which has a nutty sweet flavour.

June is traditionally the month to lift garlic. I heard it’s been said that one should plant garlic on the shortest day in December and lift on the longest day. But let’s be honest, as a gardener we are beholden to the weather the majority of the time in our jobs, so it was lifted in the gap in all the rain that we experienced in June and the garlic is currently hanging in the pole barn to dry out, before we prepare it to be stored. The chefs have used the larger ‘Elephant’ garlic to confit as they provide a delicious subtle addition to dishes.

The hard months of planning and mulching are finally coming together. Let’s just hope that the recent sunny, warm days are here to stay and after so many false starts, summer has finally arrived.