This Week in the Garden: Early June

this-week-in-the-garden-early-June-tomatoes | tiny farmhouse

Perfect spring days are like hallucinogens. Hallucinogens that I am happy to take, even while our perennial gardens’ progress is proof positive that this spring has been less than kind.

Our southern New England growing season has been set back slightly, a result of the brutal winter, and the still occasionally brutal spring. But a lovely day like today lulls us into forgetting about the cold, rain-soaked days, and too-cool nights when the temperature drops below 40 degrees – like it did, for instance, on May 31 (shouldn’t we be past that by now?).

That drop in temperature had me concerned about the basil crop, but our plants survived quite nicely, and we’ll soon be enjoying pesto. By the gallon, I think. I got a little carried away and planted 12 basil plants. But we love basil. Twelve probably isn’t too many, right?

this-week-in-the-garden-early-June-basil-in-sun | tiny farmhouse

In a typical year (i.e., any other year that we’ve lived here aside from this year we’re in), we can usually tell the date by both the peonies in the garden border, and the poppies in the flower garden in front of the barn. Both usually burst into flower (burst is the proper word, both plants are so exuberant in bloom) on June 1. Not this year, though. From the looks of the peony buds, I’m hoping for June 8. Likewise for the poppies. Hoping.

these should be gorgeous - stunningly, amazingly gorgeous - any day now. ANY day now.

these should be gorgeous – stunningly, amazingly gorgeous – any day now. ANY day now.

The asparagus was also late getting started this year, though we now have plenty – about a pound – to harvest each day. With any luck, we’ll be able to harvest for another week beyond the normal end of the season this year, though we do stretch the limits in general. Asparagus season is roughly 6 weeks, from the beginning of May through the second week of June here in Massachusetts, but our wedding anniversary is in the third week of June, so we usually harvest the last of our asparagus loot on our anniversary and have it grilled as part of our anniversary dinner. So far, no harm, no foul, and we get to enjoy asparagus from the garden on our anniversary.

this-week-in-the-garden-early-June-asparagus | tiny farmhouse

Another wedding anniversary tradition is homemade strawberry ice cream. We have loads of berries coming in now, though all still green. They should be ripe in time to keep the ice cream tradition alive. I hope.

hey, at least everything is green. It could still all be brown, and that would be way worse.

hey, at least everything is green. It could still all be brown, and that would be way worse.

Aside from squash bugs and asparagus beetles, my next least favorite garden pest is the tomato hornworm, one of the most vile creatures I have ever had the misfortune to see – and touch. Just the thought of its suction-cup feet clinging onto my tomato plants as I tear its writhing body off of said plant makes me grimace and squirm. This year, we planted borage in the tomato beds, as it is a deterrent for the dreaded tomato hornworm.

If there’s one prevailing emotional theme of this post, it’s got to be hope. I sure hope the borage does the trick.

The other theme is “green” (as in “unripe”) and/or “stunted”. But those are states, not emotions. However, I do see a causal relationship between the states and the emotion.

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that blue-flowered plant frame left is borage. Oh, also, I use those upside down pots to keep the neighbors cats from using the beds as a litterbox until the plants are more fully grown. Nothing worse than cat waste in your food garden. Ew.

The newest addition to our garden is an herb bed. We had an herb bed next to the asparagus bed, but it had become a mess, overgrown, and under-tended, so we decided to transplant the few remaining happy-looking herbs – garlic chives, lemon thyme, and sage – and start fresh in a new bed with mostly new herbs, as well as a few annual flowers. I have high hopes for the zinnia and the sunflowers in this bed. I hope that they don’t disappoint. I also have high hopes (so many hopes!!! all in one paragraph!) for the lemon verbena, which I’m about to start harvesting for syrup-making. Lemon verbena soda on the back deck, anyone?

this-week-in-the-garden-early-June-herb-bed | tiny farmhouse

What’s going on in your garden this week? I’m waiting for you southern and western and Mediterranean gardeners to make me jealous of the bushels of garden-fresh produce you’re already eating. Sigh.

this-week-in-the-garden-early-June-borage-keeps-tomato-hornworm-away | tiny farmhouse

borage is pretty funky (in a good, I’m-dating-myself-with-my-vocabulary way), so even if it doesn’t keep the villain hornworm at bay, at least I can enjoy the bright blue flowers.

6 Comments to This Week in the Garden: Early June

  1. Eileen says:

    12 basil plants is totally not overkill! If worst comes to worst, you can always just dry some and be rolling in delicious marinara sauce all winter. :) I hadn’t heard of using borage to deter tomato worms before! Going to have to give that one a try.

    • Amy says:

      Eileen, I LOVE your worst case scenario option – it’s like there is NO bad that can come of having a dozen basil plants! Fabulous!

      I had initially taken the tomato hornworm deterring properties of borage on faith based on a sign at my local nursery, though I did cross-check it, and the book “Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening” lists borage as a hornworm deterrent. I only hope that borage works better on hornworms than the alleged mosquito deterrent, citronella, does on mosquitoes. The citronella plant that is sitting on our back deck is deterring nary a bug. Of course, that could just be a result of the robust mosquito population in our neighborhood. Could be that. :)

  2. I grew borage in Illinois – it became a bit weedy there, but I loved the funny shaped seeds, and the blue – so many flowers are really purple when they are supposed to be blue! I hope they do keep the hornworms away. Dad used to shoot them with a co2 gun without the pellet, unless they were already parasitised. The ones with parasites on their backs reminded me of the Dr Who episode “The Ark in Space.”

    • Amy says:

      Oh my goodness, Christine, TOTALLY! I think that the art director on Dr. Who had tomato hornworms exactly in mind when working on “The Ark in Space”! That parasite stage is so nasty. I’m really hoping that the borage works, and am interested to see how their growth habit is here. I’ll keep you posted. And the blue flowers! It’s so nice to have truly blue flowers!

  3. Jayne says:

    I sowed some basil seed but they are not taking off so to me 12 basil plants sounds lovely! A pound of asparagus a day, heavenly! I’ll definitely take a lemon verbena soda on the deck, even more heavenly sounding!

    • Amy says:

      I hope that your basil plants do come in after all! It is a bit of overkill for us to have 12 plants, but I’m starting to make pesto in vats (well, okay, not vats, but lots of it just the same), so it will get used up. Oh, and lemon verbena soda – yum! If you come to the States this summer, maybe we can arrange for one on the deck?!

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