Here are some great June garden tips, including planting your garlic (pointy bit facing up)…

1. Sow peas and sugar snaps (and sweet peas for summer flowers). Peas actually prefer the cooler days of winter and early spring. Even though they grow more slowly, they’re far less likely to succumb to pests (apart from greedy slugs and snails) and diseases. In cold regions where the soil is cold and/or waterlogged, you won’t have much success sowing direct. Raise your peas in trays instead and transplant the seedlings carefully when they’re 5-10cm tall. If you are sowing peas direct, use slug bait or they’ll mow your seedlings down as soon as they appear. Sow sweet peas at the foot of trellis or obelisks now too.

2. Plant garlic, shallots and asparagus crowns. All appreciate soil enriched with well-rotted manure, compost, mulch and general garden fertiliser. For garlic and shallots, cultivate the soil to a spade depth and let it settle for a few days before planting your cloves and seed shallots. Plant garlic cloves with the pointy end facing up, about 5cm deep. Wriggle shallots into the soil just deep enough to leave their pointy ends still visible. For asparagus, dig a trench 50-60cm deep and line it with organic material before spreading out the spidery fleshy roots of the dormant crowns (buds facing up). Space asparagus crowns about 30cm apart, then back-fill with good soil and add a layer of mulch to prevent weeds taking advantage of the bare soil between now and spring.

3. Get ready for the arrival of bare-root fruit trees in garden centres in about two weeks. Winter is the traditional season for planting deciduous fruit trees, from apples and pears to nectarines and peaches. Bare-root trees are grown in fields and then wrenched out, roots and all, and sent to garden centres without being bagged or potted up in containers first. They’re generally displayed in wooden crates filled with damp sawdust to keep their roots moist. This might seem cruel to the tree but dormant trees (with no leaves) are surprisingly resilient. Provided the roots don’t dry out, and that you get your tree into the ground fairly quickly (or at least bury it in a trench of soil until you’re ready to move it to its permanent home), bare-root trees are very good value. If you’re planning a new orchard, bare-root trees are convenient and easy to transport. You can easily fit a dozen trees in the back seat of your car (with the branches out the window), and you can carry 20 trees under one arm instead of having to lug container-grown trees, one by one, into your garden. If you know where your new fruit trees are going to go, dig the holes before you go shopping. Make sure the hole is at least twice the size of the rootball, and bang sturdy wooden stakes into the ground on either side of the hole so you can tie your tree up as soon as you’ve backfilled the hole.

4. Be patient. If it feels like months since you planted your first round of brassicas, but there’s still no action on the cauliflower or broccoli front… don’t give up. Both can take up to 120 days to produce heads, and often it feels like all that growth comes in the last couple of weeks. So if they’re large and leafy, take it as a good sign of things to come. Ditto for cabbages. Wait for a few frosts before you harvest parsnips, swedes and Brussel sprouts. Frost sweetens their flavour (plants produce more sugar to act as a natural antifreeze so they don’t ice over).

For more information on all things NZ garden, visit http://www.tuigarden.co.nz/howtoguide/winter-gardening-guide

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