In June, the warmest and (generally) driest season, probably the last thing you are thinking about is what to plant now for later. With flowers in bloom and your fruit and vegetables needing almost constant watering, you probably haven’t thought about your autumn crops. Granted it’s a long way off, but when the nights turn colder, darker and longer, you’ll thank yourself for the efforts you make now.
Beetroot has one of the longest planting seasons of any edible crop. It’s a diverse root vegetable. Although we mostly use it in salads, it has far more uses than that – some people eat them roasted with Sunday lunch although that’s fallen out of favour a little. You can plant these right through June; plant early in the month for September crop and at the end of the month for October crop. Beetroot survives well in the fridge through to the winter or in the freezer for those first salads of spring.
Broccoli is another crop you can plant for long periods of the year. When buying the seeds, make sure you choose those for late planting. Broccoli is a mainstay of the autumn and winter roast dinner. Planting in late June may mean a good crop for your Christmas dinner. Naturally, in June, you don’t want to be thinking about Christmas just yet. How impressed will your guests be when you point out that you grew most of the vegetables on their plate?
Ideally, you should have planted carrot seeds earlier – April is the optimum time. But you can plant in June and still get a good and healthy crop for the autumn. Carrots are sturdy and tend to survive longer than many other types of vegetable. Ideal for stir fry (cut into batons), boiled for a roast dinner, grated in salads – it’s one of the healthiest and most popular snack foods too.
Another great summer-autumn vegetable, it’s had a little resurgence in recent months. It’s the “trendy” vegetable of the moment, going well in vegetarian lasagne and other baked meals. Plant now for early autumn crops – the soil is warm enough for the courgettes to grow quickly. This is also the ideal time to plant summer squashes and marrow and still have a good crop while summer is still in the air.
Hardy and diverse, most people like peas. The great thing about these crops is that they will survive under most conditions – even a wetter than average summer. They will often be one of the first crops you plant in the year. Sow them as early as March, even when there is still morning frost or as late as June-July. It’s a testament to their hardiness that you can still plant them in June. They may not grow if it gets too hot though so plant early in the month.
If there is any crop that tradition dictates you must plant after the solstice, fennel is it. It’s a great flavouring for fish and curries with a pleasant and surprising aniseed flavour. Fennel will fail if planted too early. That’s why most horticulturalists recommend planting fennel in late June at the very earliest. It likes lots of light and warmth; July may be a better option for some cultivars.
Herbs add flavour and seasoning to meat and vegetarian based meals. You should have planted most of your crop by now. If not, it’s not too late to plant some new seeds of popular herbs such as basil, coriander, dill and parsley. Early in June is ideal. Herbs won’t germinate if it’s too warm, so ensure they are already shooting before the hottest and driest weather arrives in July and August.