It has been a funny old season. A cliché it may be but I honestly don’t think I recall as late a spring as this one. When it came it was with a rattle. Suddenly the land exploded into green and there was no turning back.
With seasons like this some things do well and others are lamentable. Purple sprouting broccoli is the bedrock of the ‘hungry gap’ period which usually runs through the month of May. This and autumn sown broad beans ‘Aquadulce’ are usually cropping well. Not this year. It was so cold that everything was nearly a month behind.
The soil was so cold that even the asparagus was slowly into its stride. Now here we are in June and things are looking up. I am still eating my autumn sown broad beans and asparagus can go on being harvested until the third week of June. Traditionally Royal Ascot week. Then all cutting must absolutely stop. The spears must be allowed to grow up into fern to regenerate the crowns.
By the end of the month you need to be thinking about sowing your winter greens again – purple sprouting broccoli, Brussels sprouts for Christmas and the early winter cabbages such as January King which, despite its name, is good in the earlier part of the winter. The Savoy cabbages can be sown in July along with spring greens if you brave enough to go down that route. It is a long winter to get spring greens all chunky and delicious in April from a July sowing!
Because of the cold I have left a lot of May sowings until June. Sweet corn, even runner beans did not make it into the ground until just now. Don’t worry, everything will catch up and there is nothing like a bountiful harvest in late July and through August.
Even my courgettes were poor first time around. The first lot did not fancy the cold at all and shriveled up, so I sowed another batch. Don’t be afraid to do this if things are not working out.
Continuing with sowing it is now possible to do a lot of propagation from seed out in the garden in seedbeds. This saves compost, time, water and actually produces a stronger plant that has no need for hardening off because it is already in tune with its environment. Lettuce, parsley, cabbage, calabrese and all the winter brassicas can be sown outside now for transplanting. It is well worth doing.
I leave the grass to grow long everywhere now because I cut it with my Austrian scythe and make it into hay to feed the cattle in the winter when the grass is short. Wildflowers are everywhere, pollinating insects are very busy at work and the air is filled with their buzz. It is a golden month June. Soon there will be a harvest of the first early potatoes and then I will feel like summer has arrived.