12 Jun 2011

June seed sowing...

Strawberry and tomato (as if you didn't know!)
My friend Ana has recently built her first raised bed and mentioned that she now needed to give some thought to what she wanted to grow.  I always say to home-grow the expensive stuff that would usually be bought from the supermarket, such as spinach and pea shoots, and from there we chatted about what could still be grown in June - especially as the seeds still have to be bought.  So that's garlic and onions out then, at least until November or early next year. (Onions are cheap to buy but I grow red and sweet white ones as they're much more expensive.)

One advantage to starting off now is that you may find a few of the seed companies (and supermarkets) are selling their seeds at a discount, but you have to be quick. Thompson and Morgan send out a newsletter with their special offers, worth signing up for as they recently had 50% off all seeds, too late for a mention here as that offer has finished. Also sign up to UK Veg Gardeners (it's free), join the Freebies and Bargains group and get alerted to any special offers as the members find them.

So, back to what can still be grown in June.  Actually, rather a lot - with the benefit that the ground will be warm and, hopefully, moist with all the recent showers. For a first year, I would (and did) go for quickly maturing veg such as salad leaves, radish, etc.  This will give the satisfaction of eating home-grown without the long wait. Baby spinach leaves can be picked in as little as 4 weeks.  Cut and come again lettuce is a good one, but grow it in a partly shaded area to prevent bolting (running to seed) if the weather gets hot again.  Home-grown tomatoes are delicious and mini plants are swamping the garden centres at the moment. Go for a small bush type and plant it in a grow bag (if you must, they're so ugly!) or trough to save space in your raised bed for other veg.  (Be aware if you buy strawberry plants this year that they won't fruit until next year.  They can also easily be grown from seed.)

Spinach leaves and Radish
Some carrot varieties (such as Amsterdam Sprint) take only 12 weeks to mature as baby carrots - but why bother as they're so cheap in the shops, although children are always fascinated with the idea of carrots straight from the garden. (Shades of Peter Rabbit, I think.)

I'd highly recommend Sweet corn, if you have room - baby corn or popping corn if space is an issue -  it's so much tastier cooked straight after picking; Stephen Shirley of Victoriana Nurseries gives the inside deal on growing it here on YouTube.

Fennel bulb, beetroot, french beans and peas can be sown outdoors now. Pea shoots can be grown in a window box or kitchen flowerpot and harvested within a couple of weeks as a tasty addition to a salad (as I'm sure all fans of Alys Fowler's Edible Garden programme will know!) - and you don't need special seeds, buy a pack of Bigga dried peas from the supermarket, they'll do the job.

And what about marrows and courgettes, perfect time to sow these straight into the ground. Courgette flowers (the female flowers with the fruit just forming behind) can be picked, stuffed and deep fried while the courgette continues to grow - the plant does get quite big but you can grow stuff around it, such as spinach, lettuce, herbs or nasturtium flowers (edible!).

Chard (Bright Lights) and Butternut Squash
Could you squeeze in some squashes? I fancy Sweet Dumpling squash; a pretty striped small winter squash, cook it whole and stuffed to enjoy it's sweet and tender orange flesh. Seeds should have gone in in May but nature catches up with itself, so it's worth giving it a go. Try training small squashes up a trellis, tying it in with soft ties as it grows and making sure to support the fruits as they develop.

And lets not forget winter veg:  mini cauliflowers, purple sprouting broccoli, asparagus for next spring (I'm planning to sow seed for Romanesco cauli aka broccoli when the rain stops).  Providing they don't bolt, seeds sown in July will overwinter (it worked for me last year) and make a delicious meal in the spring with some cheese sauce over the top, or add to a stir-fry.

Lastly, try and find a space between other veg for herbs: I can't do without parsley, thyme, oregano, coriander, mint and rosemary being readily available as I'm hopeless at planning ahead with buying herbs. (See my last post for a link to Monty Don planting herbs on Gardener's World.) Shop bought herbs won't last long if left in their pots as the seeds are overcrowded but garden centre herbs planted in a bed with space to grow will last you throughout the summer, and probably reappear next year - a much better investment!

I hope this has provided some inspiration, for Ana and for anyone else reading who may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by choice.  If you enjoy veg growing, it's well worth reading books on the subject from the library. Alan Buckingham's Allotment Month-by-Month is a good one, as in anything by Joy Larkcom.  You Tube fans might like to check out Claire's Allotment for her excellent how-to videos.

(This post is also for my sister, Sue, who is also enjoying the delights of home-grown spinach from her first raised bed. xx)


  1. Well done on a terrific post!
    New gardeners can, and indeed do, get confused and overwhelmed with information but what you written here is helpful and straightforward.
    Flighty xx

  2. Thanks Flighty! I'm not sure I'm best qualified to have written this but I recall wanting to throw myself into growing stuff at the beginning without having a clue how big it would get or when seeds should go in. Three years on, with a bit of planning and a lot of reading behind me, it's making more sense! Caro xx

  3. Perfectly timed post! My friend has just got an allotment (after three years of waiting!) and I have been advising her on what can still be grown - but this is a lot more indepth. Have forwarded this post onto her to read through and make note! Thank you. Philippa

  4. So pleased that you've found my post useful and I wish your friend lots of enjoyment from her allotment! Thanks for passing it on, much appreciated. Caro xx

  5. I also found this post really useful.

    Always handy to know what to sow now!

    Martin :)

  6. Thanks Martin/Amy, It takes a couple of years to get into the swing of things and first time growers can be overwhelmed by choice, or leave it too late only to be disappointed with their crops. Caro x


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