As the wintry weather continues and you gaze at your garden and wonder what to do with it, here’s 4 bits of garden gold from Rachel on what you could tackle this second weekend of June. Get fruit and vege growing!
1. Plan an orchard. It’s prime time for planting fruit trees as during winter they’re dormant. New season’s trees are arriving in garden centres now and if you buy bare-rooted trees you’ll get them at a bargain price. To plant, dig a hole that’s slightly deeper and wider than the root ball. Mix compost into the soil at the base of the hole, make a small mound, then place the tree on top, adding slow-release fertiliser. Tease out the roots, then fill ‘er up (use a mix of soil and compost) to about three-quarters full. Firm the soil down with your heel, then add more soil till the hole is full. Water well.
2. Sow hardy greens. Sow mesclun, rocket, corn salad, spinach, Asian greens (such as mizuna and mibuna), and giant red mustard in large containers on your patio or a sheltered porch and you’ll be serving your own salads in a matter of weeks. All are cold-hardy, but if conditions are extreme (frosts, cold winds, pesky critters chewing the leaves), use a cloche for cover.
3. Sow Florence fennel. This pungent, aniseed-flavoured, bulbous vegetable is delicious added to a simple salad of sliced apple and dressed with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. If you want to grow Florence fennel, you’ll either have to sow it from seed or look for individual potted plants in the herb section at your local garden centre. Kings Seeds offer ‘Milano’, described as “a highly regarded early bulb fennel for spring and early summer sowing with good bolt resistance. Big, very white, spherical bulbs with little fibre and excellent taste”, and the organic ‘Romanesco’ variety. Romanesco can be sown now. Sow direct and thin the seedlings so they’re 15cm-20cm apart, and make sure you keep the plants well-watered right through spring and summer. If they dry out, they have a habit of shooting straight to seed instead of fattening up at the base.
4. Make a move. Itching to move a shrub or tree that’s planted in the wrong spot? Do it now. Dig the new hole first, then dig a trench around the plant you’re shifting, about 30cm out from the trunk. Wrench the rootball out of the soil and heave it onto a hessian sack or tarpaulin to make it easier to haul to its new location. Stake well so the roots can get established without wind rock.