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Gail's Gardens - June 2015


Gail's Gardens - June 2015 

by Gail Fanning

Rose in BloomSpring planting time for your veggies is finally here (yes, I know many of your bought your tomatoes months ago, but unless you have kept them carefully protected, they have suffered in our cool nights, and you may need to start over). My husband Mike finished the re-building of our greenhouse, so we were able to get our tomatoes and squash an early start. The tomatoes will stay in the greenhouse all summer in 15 gallon pots: our location close to the coast with lots of fog and wind really makes it difficult to get any tomatoes unless they are protected: they are very happy in the greenhouse! The squash are growing well and ready to move outside for the summer into the new raised beds Mike has built: we will have an abundance of fresh veggies this year! When you are planting out your vegetables, don’t forget to rotate your crops from last year’s placement: this reduces diseases and can help balance the nutrients in the soil.

Sow herbs like basil, parsley and coriander in small pots that you can keep close at hand for frequent picking while cooking. Sow small amounts of these herbs every month for fresh flavors all summer long. Pinching the tips of the basil will keep it bushy and growing fresh for the long while.  Remember to water daily for best results. I’m a strong believer in timers and simple drip systems for all your pots: it’s easy to put together a drip system yourself, and it will prevent disasters when you forget to water or go out of town. For expert advice on drip systems for gardens large or small, consult the nice folks at Harmony Farm Supply in Sebastopol, or Wyatt Irrigation in Santa Rosa. For good on-line advice: check out my favorite brand of drip equipment: easy to use and lasts forever!

While we’re thinking about herbs (and veggies): have you considered planting some in your flower garden? Sage and basil (try the purple-leaved varieties for a color splash) are great front of the border plants, and artichokes make a big perennial statement in the middle ground of any sunny garden. Thyme is a great ground cover around the base of roses or New Zealand flax, and of course lavender and rosemary are must in every drought tolerant garden. A tall row of sunflowers or corn in the back of a sunny border is attractive and productive. I like cherry tomatoes in the flower garden too: use an attractive tomato cage to create a “tower” of fruit handy for browsing.

Thinking about planting strawberries this year? Here are some recommended for our area: ‘Sequoia’ (June bearing), ‘Chandler’ (June bearing), ‘Seascape’ (everbearing) and ‘Eversweet’ (everbearing). Plant strawberry plants 12” apart, and use plastic or straw mulch to keep berries off the ground. Be sure to protect them from birds, snails, slugs and other crawling bugs that will enjoy their sweet flavor as much as you do. Feed with good compost and be sure to keep them evenly moist (via a dripline under the mulch) for juicy fruit. Strawberries in pots are very attractive, and handy for grazing on the deck!

Replace strawberry plants every few years, or dig out “mother” plants and keep “daughter” shoots for new plants. Strawberries will benefit from changing to a completely new bed after 4-5 years to reduce diseases (rotate into the herb bed, perhaps). Do not plant strawberries where tomatoes or peppers have been planted within the last 3 years, to avoid the risk of verticillium infection. Good companion plants for strawberries include bush beans and borage.

Need advise about your garden? Send me an e-mail at I’d be happy to help!