June! The sun is shining (or should be). Strawberries are plumping, roses are blooming and tomatoes are all tucked into their beds. Summer officially begins later in the month, bringing with it chores for the future (pull those weeds) as well as the past (remember those tulips and daffodils? Clean them up!). Here’s a chore for every day of the month.
1. If you haven’t applied mulch, do it now. Take care not to place it against plant stems or tree trunks and to keep it 2-3 inches deep.
2. It’s not too late to plant tomatoes and join the 2016 Tomato Challenge! Send plant details and your name, photo and town to email@example.com for possible publication.
3. Cut the top third off Asteraceae plants — chrysanthemum, eupatorium and heliopsis — to increase flowering and improve form.
4. Fill gaps left by early spring bloomers with summer annuals.
5. Deadhead faded spring-blooming shrubs like rhododendrons and lilacs.
6. Fasten rambling and climbing roses to supports as they grow.
7. Plants growing in containers will need more frequent watering than their in-ground counterparts, so check soil moisture daily.
8. Clean out birdbaths once a week to keep bacteria from flourishing.
9. Standing water creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Don’t let puddles collect in trash can lids, gutters, pot saucers, spare tires or on play sets.
10. Plant dahlias and set 4-foot stakes an inch away from bud-bearing roots.
11. Protect strawberries from birds and squirrels with netting or floating row covers.
12. Place paper cups with bottoms removed at soil level around stems of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants to prevent cutworm damage.
13. Remove wilted yellow leaves from bearded irises to help prevent borer infestations.
14. Fight mildew on roses, phlox and other plants by spraying with a tablespoon each of baking soda and ultrafine horticultural oil diluted in a gallon of water.
15. Set your sundial at exactly noon today for accurate timekeeping all summer.
16. Thin carrot seedlings now to an inch apart, and again when their leaves touch, to 3 inches apart, to allow space underground for growth.
17. Fertilize houseplants at half strength with every second watering.
18. Plant short perennials or ground cover under clematis to keep their roots shaded and cool.
19. Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there! No mowing the lawn today, Garden Detective’s orders.
20. On this first day of summer, fertilize spring-flowering bulbs and peonies as long as flowers have faded.
21. Harvest all but one of your cool-season lettuces before they bolt and turn bitter, then take seeds from the bolted one for planting next year: free lettuce!
22. For a better harvest, pinch out suckers, small stems that grow in the crotch between the main branch and stems, on tomato plants.
23. Keep an eye out for Japanese beetles. Pick them off by hand and dispose of them in a bucket of soapy water.
24. If you seeded or sodded your lawn this spring, continue watering twice daily until the grass is 4 inches tall.
25. Make your own plants by taking cuttings of new growth from Buddleia, rose of Sharon, roses and weigela. Pot up in peat and vermiculite, and transplant when rooted.
26. Use only low-nitrogen fertilizer on vegetables or annuals; otherwise you’ll end up with lots of leafy growth and no crops or flowers.
27. When the first tomatoes set, apply a generous shower of fish emulsion to foliage to give plants a nutritional boost.
28. Inspect trees and shrubs for scale. If chemical treatment is necessary, avoid using hose-end sprayers; they don’t dissolve, mix or apply evenly.
29. Snake soaker hoses through perennial and vegetable gardens to provide water directly to roots.
30. Deadhead hybrid tea and grandiflora roses.