In My Garden – June


Garden June6


Somehow I missed May which went by in a blur, while I was attending weddings, graduations and bar mitzvahs.  Yet my garden survived.  I was too busy to notice my artichokes were ripe until it was too late, so I decided to let them flower.  Aren’t they glorious, and they’re not done yet!  The second one is about to bloom…

Garden June4

Since I planted back in April, I have been harvesting a steady crop of lettuces.  There are a few ways to harvest lettuce (and  kale and chards).  You can cut the entire plant off at the base, remove the roots and replant.  Sometimes, a plant will regrow if you leave a few inches but I’m often too impatient to wait.  You can also just pull up the whole plant by the roots.  Or you can remove just the outer leaves and allow the plant to keep growing, which it does from the center (so don’t remove those leaves).  Eventually though, it will bolt (flower or go to seed) and you then need to harvest or cut back the whole plant.  I started my lettuces out in nice rows but by now it’s quite the hodgepodge, since I replant as I go, but I think it looks pretty that way.  I always have seedlings and mature plants going along together so something is always ready for my salad bowl .

Garden June7

My tomato plants are mostly doing well and I have harvested a few tomatoes.  The Green Zebra and Black Krim were first.  This time of year, I remove all the yellowing leaves near the base of the plan!t and any others that look yellow, spotted or diseased. If you have any plants that really look sick, just pull them out and replace them with healthy seedlings.  It’s not too late . I just did that last week with one of my plants.   Tomatoes love to be buried deep and will put out more roots if you pile soil amendment around them.

Garden June8

My new experiment is with companion gardening.  I have had terrible luck growing basil.  They seem to be eaten to the ground by the next morning after planting.  So I planted them among my tomato plants and they have so far lasted almost a week. Apparently tomatoes repel the critters that like basil.  Keeping my fingers crossed.


Garden June1

I have been harvesting blueberries about a half cup at a time, just enough to eat for breakfast or add to a salad, but they are delicious!

Garden June11

My zucchini is just starting to grow up the trellis and I have a few harvestable fruits.  Hmmm, recipes starting to swirl through my head…Send me your best ideas!

Garden June2

Sugar snap peas are making their way up the teepee but not producing yet.

Garden June5

My non GMO corn is two or three feet tall.  I have never grown corn before, I’m excited about my tiny crop!

Garden June9

My main problem, though has been critters.  It’s wild animal kingdom here!  Most recently, it’s gophers. If you have ever found mounds like these that my dog, Lola, is checking out in my lawn, you know what I mean!  This time of year their babies are learning the new routes underground, so there is lots of activity and they leave giant earth mounds in their wake.  About 10 or 15 years ago I became obsessed with the gophers and went “Caddyshack”.  I have vivid memories of trying to smoke them out and running around blocking all the exits as smoke kept finding new areas to escape, as my small boys watched, noses pressed to the window.  “Mommy’s gone crazy!”  The gophers were too smart for that though and just went to lower ground to wait it out.  Over the years, however, I have just learned to co-exist with my subterranean ‘friends’.  I try to keep them off my lawn and out of my vegetable garden and pretty much let them roam to their hearts content around the rest of the property.  I have tried all kinds of home remedies, hot red pepper, hair clippings, windmills and several others to no avail.  The product that I am having the best luck on my lawn with is Repellex, which is a repellant not a poison, made with castor oil, cinnamon oil, garlic oil and white pepper. They don’t like the smell or taste and they stay away. It is non-toxic and biodegradable but wears off in about a month or so, so you have to reapply.

Garden June10

The main task though is WEEDING!  Do it now while the soil is still soft or it becomes back breaking work. The second task is to  mulch or amend the soil, especially in California with our drought conditions.  Mulching provides nutrients and helps retain moisture in the soil.

I am only a weekend warrior gardener, so check out the links below for some expert gardening tips.

What To Do In the Garden in June – Regional guide for ornamentals, vegetables, fruit trees, trees and shrubs and pest control.

Calendar of Gardening Tasks for June – The Garden Helper  Tips on flowers, shrubs, vegetables and lawn care (even house plants).

How to Plant a Vegetable Garden in June – eHow  For those that haven’t planted yet.  It’s not too late if you do it right!


Homemade Non-Toxic Weedkiller



This is where Lola, my dog, hangs out when I’m gardening.  This area tends to get lots of weeds which are unattractive.  To get rid of them I have to hand pull (hard work) or spray with something like RoundUp (poison).  I don’t like spraying poison around my vegetable garden and I also don’t want Lola laying on poisoned bark, so when I came across this natural homemade recipe for killing weeds, I had to give it a try.  There are just three ingredients:  distilled white vinegar, salt and dishwashing liquid, all items which you probably already have in your pantry. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which effectively kills weeds and other plants.  The soap attacks the outer protective layer of the plant and salt kills the weeds and absorbs into the ground, preventing all plant growth so this solution is only good in areas you don’t want to replant, like driveway cracks and barked or pebbled areas.


Combine the three ingredients in a spray bottle and voila! you have a non-toxic weedbuster.   I sprayed my weeds on a warm day, since it is more effective on hot, sunny days than on drizzly or foggy days.  Check out my results!








Homemade Weed Killer

1 gallon of white vinegar
1/2 cup salt
Liquid dish soap (any brand)
Empty spray bottle

Put salt in the empty spray bottle and fill it the rest of the way up with white vinegar. Add a squirt of liquid dish soap. This solution works best if you use it on a hot day. Spray it on the weeds in the morning, and as it heats up it will do its work.  WARNING:  Only use in areas you don’t wish to replant.


And one more cute dog photo just for fun…


In My Garden – April


Garden April6

Spring has sprung! Sounds like a cliché, but I can see how that saying came to be. Crocuses, the harbingers of spring, seem to spring out of the ground overnight. Even my east coast friends who are buried under piles of snow will be soon posting facebook photos of crocuses blooming as the snow starts to melt. In Northern California, camellias and azaleas are in full bloom and the puffed up buds on my Rhodies tell me they are about to burst into their annual glory as well.  My fruit trees are buzzing with bees, flitting from blossom to blossom busy pollinating the next generation of baby fruit.


Garden April

In my garden, I have rather large, healthy looking fava bean plants, which have an unusual but beautiful flower.  I planted them for the first time at the end of fall as a winter cover crop to add nitrogen to the soil and improve soil quality (and because I love fava beans).  They better hurry up and do their job though because they are growing where I’m going to plant tomatoes.

Garden April3Garden April2

I also have green and red chard, a mixture of lettuces and an abundance of sugar snap peas, all of which I planted early to take advantage of our mild ‘winter’.  As I harvest chard or lettuce, I replant with seedlings so I usually have a combination of baby seedlings and large mature heads/bunches.  You can also just pick the outer leaves and the plant will keep producing but eventually it goes to seed and the leaves start to get bitter.  My next door chickens love it when I neglect my garden and let plants go to seed, since they get to peck at the spoils.

Garden April4

In your garden, it’s time to clear out all the weeds before the ground gets too hard and they become impossibly tenacious. Roses should have been cut back and new growth beginning to emerge.  Now is the time for soil preparation and amendment, fertilizing to encourage healthy growth and mulching to discourage weeds and retain moisture in the soil (particularly important during drought years). In a Northern California vegetable garden, plant cool weather crops like snow peas, carrots, lettuce, chard and kale. Tomato seeds can be started indoors .  Tomato seedlings planted now are at risk of damage from frost.  It’s better to wait until nighttime temperatures are reliably above 55 F /13 C.  If you are in a rush (like I often am), you can protect them with a cover at night but keep in mind that growth could be stunted and blossoms won’t set if the nights are too cold., i.e. the blossoms will fall off without producing fruit.  I use garden cloth clipped together with plastic mini hair clips but even an old sheet will help keep temperatures stable and shield delicate plants from the cold wind.   Garden cloth can also be used to protect tender seedlings from wild animals who treat our vegetable gardens like their own personal salad bar.


Later in the month, (once the risk of frost is over) sow seeds or plant seedlings of warm-season crops such as beans, corn, and squash, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes.  Now is a great time to sow wildflower seeds which are scattered either in  fall (September through November) or early spring (March through May)  or one or two weeks before average last frost.  A great choice in a drought year is Oenothera (Mexican Primrose).  This delicate pink flowering plant is very hardy and can withstand almost any heat or drought – great for dry hillsides and unattended areas.  Another good drought tolerant wildflower is Scarlet Flax, a showy red flower, which blooms spring to fall.

Garden April5

Click here for more detailed information on gardening in your area.  There are also links to rose care and Veggies 101-How to start your vegetable garden: