The start of the garden season officially arrived in June. Where I live in Northern Ontario, our average last frost date is mid-June, which means it’s safe to plant after that day. Now, there are exceptions to this, as some plant varieties do well with frosts and cooler temperatures. Even though I got an early start to the garden this year, planting as early as March – though it meant bringing those plants in every night for almost three months – June is when the vast majority of the garden was planted. Now that the planting is complete, I thought I would share a June 2020 garden update.
This year has been quite different than most, so because of this, I am working on making the most out of the garden. No space is to be wasted. In fact, I even made the effort to focus on planting heirloom seeds this year. This will hopefully lead to being able to save my own seeds for next year’s garden.
June 2020 garden update
Let’s start with the backyard vegetable garden, where most of my time and effort went into.
What I planted
Like my previous gardens, I have stuck with most of the same varieties of plants. I like to grow what works well for our climate. The big change was planting a significant amount more of the garden. Every bit of the inground garden and raised beds have something growing in it. I dug out every single pot I own and they each have a plant growing in it. Whereas before I wouldn’t bother with planting in containers unless I had a few extra plants that needed a place to grow.
The garden isn’t complete until the beans have been planted. This is the main plant that I grow in the inground garden. Beans do very well for me, so I grow a ton each year. Normally, I grow 4-6 different varieties. However, this year, I cut back to two varieties mainly due to the difficulty in finding seeds.
For green beans, I went with the variety Contender. This is a variety I have grown for a number of years and find that they grow well in cooler climates and produce extremely well. I planted three rows of these.
Then I planted wax beans. I like mixing wax beans with green beans as it adds more flavor and color to our meals. I planted the Golden Wax variety, which I have grown in this past and does very well. These plants are very disease resistant. There are three rows os these beans.
Much like beans, peas are a must in the garden. I wasn’t able to grow them last year and they were sorely missed. So, I made it my mission to grow them again this year.
One of them is Sugar Snap Peas. These are a favorite for my family when it comes to snacking peas. We can often be found standing in the garden snacking on these straight off the vine. They grow well on the garden fence and help to add some shade to the garden.
My personal favorite pea to grow and eat are shelling peas. A single row of Green Arrow peas will be enough for snacking throughout the latter half of the season. These peas grow really well and can get surprisingly tall.
After the utter failure of last year’s onions, I was determined to have a good harvest this year. I decided to plant them in the bed that I had previously used for years on end and so far they are doing well. They are Yellow Onions which I find grow quite well here, get fairly large, and have a nice flavor to them.
This year I committed three raised beds to grow carrots. I normally grow Scarlet Nantes, but this year I went with a similar heirloom variety Coreless Nantes. These carrots have a shorter growing time, so they are ideal for our cool short growing season. Two beds have already sprouted and are doing well, and the third was planted at the end of the month so they should be sprouting in early July. This will give us two harvests.
Most of the potatoes in the garden were planted in pots in March and April and spent the next 2-3 months being brought in and out daily so they wouldn’t get killed by the cold. These plants have grown like crazy and I look forward to seeing how many potatoes we get from them. I also planted half of a raised bed with potatoes this month, so we will have two harvests, one in August and the other in October. The varieties I planted are Russet and Yukon Gold. For how to grow potatoes, check out this growing guide.
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of radishes. However, my husband loves them and they are a fast and easy vegetable to grow. I stuck with the usual Cherry Belle variety as they do really well for us.
I am growing a few types of greens this year. A lot of these were started back in March but I have continued to sow more so that we have a continual harvest throughout the growing season.
Spinach is a favorite among my family, so I have quite a few pots filled with them and part of a raised bed as well. The variety I am growing is Salad Sensation Hybrid and it is doing really well in our cooler climate. In fact, it may be growing too well as we can’t keep up with them. Or perhaps I just grew too much of it.
Swiss Chard isn’t something I grow every year, but this year I have quite a bit of it. It has been great to eat fresh nearly every day and occasionally cook it with our dinners. The variety I am growing is called Discovery and it’s a smaller chard variety but is very prolific.
I’m not confident that the lettuce will grow. I have planted it three different times and no matter how many seeds I put down only a few sprout. There are about three minuscule lettuce plants in the garden right now. It is likely a case of a bad batch of seeds. The variety is Grand Rapids, which normally grows like crazy here. If they don’t do much in the next week or so I will reseed that space with a different green.
I planted the bok choy back in April and it grew splendidly. In fact, we have already harvested all of it because it started to bolt. There is another batch of bok choy growing already and will be transplanted into the garden sometime in July. I’m not certain what variety it is, as I planted these from seeds I saved several years ago. All I know, it that is does amazing.
Zucchini & Squash
Zucchini is very hit or miss. I have grown it several times and only once have I got a good harvest out of it. But, I had some older zucchini seeds that I wanted to use up, so I figured I would give it a try. The variety I am growing is Dark Green.
I also planted some Yellow Squash, which is doing fairly well so far. These are planted in raised beds, as that seemed to be the area they grew best in in the past.
Finally, I planted some Spaghetti Squash. Much like the zucchini, these seeds were older, so I was just using them up. Four sprouted, so I have since transplanted them in the main garden. I have tried to grow spaghetti squash in the past with no success. Fingers crossed they do well this year.
I have upped my herb game in 2020. I normally only grow parsley, basil, and oregano. But this year I was able to get a good mix of herb seeds, so I decided to grow them all to see it they do well up here.
Firstly, the parsley I am growing. Like last year, I am growing two varieties. Italian Parsley and Champion Moss Curled Parsley. Due to a labeling error, I can’t tell which plant is which at the moment. However, as they grow I will be able to distinguish between the two varieties. So far, they are growing well.
Next is basil. I am growing two varieties this year as well. Sweet Basil and Genovese Basil. The Genovese is new to me and so far I can’t tell the difference between the plants, but it may all boil down to taste. These plants are growing strong and I am sure they will really take off now that they have been transplanted into pots.
Dill is an herb I have grown in the past but it’s never thrived. However, I decided to give it a try again this year. So far the two plants I have are doing well. I am uncertain of the variety though.
Cilantro is another herb I have tried in the past with moderate luck. This year I have three sturdy-looking seedlings that I grew from seed. So hopefully they will do well.
Thyme is a new to me herb. But, since it came in the collection of herb seeds, I figured why not try it. Only one seed sprouted and the plant is quite small, but from what I have read, thyme is a slow-growing herb, so I think it will be okay.
And the final herb I am growing is Rosemary. I’m not certain of the variety, but I was able to get three small seedlings out of the seeds that I planted. I have high hopes for these plants, so I will be watching them closely throughout the growing season.
I had planned to get some cabbage seedlings this year but 2020 had other plans. Luckily, I had some cabbage seeds and planted those. The variety is the Early Copenhagen Market. I was able to get four plants from these and transplanted them into a raised bed this month.
I took some cuttings from the Chocolate Mint plant in the front garden and put them into pots in the back of the vegetable garden. So far, they are doing well and I look forward to seeing how big they get this year. I absolutely love the smell of chocolate mint. Plus it deters mice and spiders from the area.
I am not a flower person. But, I know they can be beneficial to the garden, by attracting pollinators. Some even help to deter pests. I knew this year I wanted to add some more flowers to the garden, but then it became very difficult to find flower seedlings. While I did get some, it was nowhere near as much as I had hoped to get.
Marigolds are a must in the garden. These flowers are dual purpose as they bring in pollinators and help to deter many pests. This year I got the Durango Outback Mix. Most of the flowers are orange, but some are yellow and a few are orange with red stripes on them. They look great along the garden border and mixed in with some of the raised beds.
Gazania New Day, also known as African Daisies, are a flower I picked up on a whim. The variety is Tiger Mix and the flowers are either white or orange with a reddish stripe in the middle of the petals.
Snapdragons are a flower I loved as a child, so I try to add them to the garden. The variety I picked up was Snapshot Appleblossom. I intermixed these with the marigolds around the border.
Another childhood favorite plant is Impatiens, or as I like to call them ‘Exploding Seed Plants’. I remember fighting with my sister to be the one of pop the seed buds of these plants. I managed to find some seeds and got a few of these growing. The plants are a bit on the small side still, so they haven’t been transplanted into the garden yet, but should be out there in July.
Lastly, I had some Nasturtium seeds. I have known about these flowers for a while but this is my first time growing them. I was actually surprised by how large the seeds were and they had a 100% germination rate. The variety is Jewel Mixed and I look forward to seeing what the plants look like as they grow. The leaves and flowers of Nasturtiums are edible and have a slightly spicy flavor.
A big change this year was removing one of our recurring plants, the horseradish. This plant has been growing for four years and had yet to produce roots big enough to harvest. Removing them from the raised bed was a bigger job than expecting and took the vast majority of May, but it freed up a raised bed for something else this month.
The strawberries had full of blooms and I am sure that we will be harvesting them sometime in July. These are wild strawberries, so they do not grow very large but are by far the most flavorful strawberries I have ever had.
The chives came back once again. There are two chive plants, one in the corner of a raised bed and one in a pot. The raised bed plant is doing phenomenal. However, the potted chive suffered a bit, likely due to the cold of winter, and while it’s coming back the plant is very small.
I honestly wasn’t planning to do any experiments this year. With everything that is going on and the difficulty in finding seeds and seedlings, it just didn’t make sense. But, as I wasn’t able to find certain plants I usually grow, like broccoli, it left space open for some experimentation. Thus I have a number of plants I am growing for the first time. A number of the herbs I have listed above are new to me. On top of those, I decided to try two plants I had never grown before.
Garlic is something I have wanted to grow for years but I never set aside any garden space for it. This year I was able to find some garlic bulbs and planted a small section of one raised bed with them. So far the plants are looking good and all but one of them has sprouted.
Beets are not something I would ever have thought I would grow, but 2020 is a crazy year so I figured why not. Luckily, my husband loves beets (something I only found out after I had planted them) so if I don’t like them at least they won’t go to waste. The variety I am growing is Chioggia.
The front flower garden
Initially, I wasn’t going to plant the front flower garden. But, I had some extra flowers left over, so I figured I would put them out front so they wouldn’t go to waste.
The Petunia flowers I picked up strictly because they were purple. The variety is Madness Orchid. They seem to be doing well here.
Next is another Snapdragon, this one being Speedy Sonnet Purple variety. I will admit, that they aren’t as purple as I had hoped they would be, but still a nice touch to the flower garden.
A few flowers came back from the previous year but I have no ideas what they are. But, they are purple so they stay!
Lastly, the Chocolate Mint that I planted last year came back and is happily spreading further into the garden. I am super excited that this mint returned as the smell is fantastic.
As you can see, this year’s garden has quite a variety of plants and is bigger than normal. In fact, there is an overflow of plants that live on the deck because there just wasn’t enough space in the garden area. I hope you enjoyed my June 2020 garden update.
What are you growing this year? Any plants you are especially excited about?