June in the vegetable garden with Janette Haase

Janette Haase is auther of From Seed to Table: A Practical Guide to Eating and Growing

Based on your questions Janette talked about planting in June; companion planting (tomatoes and cucumber), light requirements and effective mulch. There was also a question about ground cherries and possible causes for tomato seedlings dying. The blog this week closes with questions about pest management.


Which vegetables can you still start from seed?

BasilGreen Onion
BeetsSalad Greens (including lettuce)
Carrots (need lots of water to germinate)Melons
EndivesSwiss Chard

You can plant most salad vegetables until the mid to end of July in Kingston. Janette says you can even extend some of your planting to early August. This will enable you to have salad right into December. So keep planting.

Vegetables to start from seedlings

It’s too late to start tomatoes, peppers and eggplants from seed. If you still want to grow these , it’s best to buy seedlings.

Avoid planting spring vegetables now e.g. spring turnip and spinach; they prefer cooler weather.

Companion planting

For cucumbers

Salad greens, beans and squash work well. Timing is important. Cucumbers and squash will sprawl and interfere with the ability of other plants to grow unless they have a head start. Establish your beans first.

For tomatoes

Jannette recommends basil, lettuce, radishes; any salad greens. with tomatoes

Mabel plants carrots in front of her tomatoes in a narrow bed  (less than 2 feet). Note carrots need to grow in undisturbed soil.

Ground cherries – I started ground cherries from seed and planted them in the garden last week.  Any advice about ongoing care?

Ground cherries are usually very productive and bar an early frost, you will have a good harvest from one or two plants. Note, ground cherries have a sprawling habit.

Seeds are available at Kitchen Table.

How to plant basil seedlings that were purchased stuck together?

You can grow two to three basil plants together. Look for any obvious places where you can easily separate the roots of your seedlings with minimum disturbance. Janette says the more you disturb the roots of the transplant, the longer it takes them to recover. When transplanting, water the hole, then plant and water again. This makes the water immediately and easily available to the roots of the young plant .

Vegetables to grow in a partly sunny location?

Leafy greens and any vegetable that likes to grow in the cooler weather are your best option. These vegetables prefer a bit of shade in the summer. You must have at least 2/3 of the day in sunshine. Morning or afternoon shade is not too much of a problem, however shade for more than 2/3 of the day is below light level vegetables will grow.

Use of fresh arborist wood chips on a vegetable garden. Are there any types you would suggest I avoid? Tree care companies are willing to drop these off for free.

Janette recommends ramial wood chips for vegetable gardens. These include leaves , twigs and smaller branches which decompose fairly rapidly and add lots of nutrients to the soil. During recent research, she discovered that this idea is not new. In Mayan Agriculture, when slashing and burning they targeted the smaller branches and leaves so that the resulting ashes would enrich their soil. If you are uncertain of the contents of the wood chips, best to use straw (available almost year round at Glenburnie store.)

Fresh arborist wood chips are however very beneficial for more established plants including around shrubs and trees. While Nitrogen is used up in the process of decay, it only affects the soil at surface level, and will not harm to your established plants.

Why did my healthy appearing tomato seedlings die?

Last weekend my tomato seedlings were fine. I put down lots of newspaper and mulch to protect the tomatoes through any heatwave, so the soil was moist.

Two possible explanations:

Janette suggested that the late frost we had could have killed the seedlings.

Mabel suggested the plants could have been too wet, as tomatoes don’t like “wet feet”

Janette noted that translucent leaves are a good indicator of frost and yellow leaves an indicator that the soil is too wet.

Pests Management

Before beginning this section I would like to share an extract summarizing the Master Gardener approach to pest management:

Master Gardeners advocate Integrated pest management (IPM), or a holistic approach to pest control. “IPM is a part of a total urban community ecosystem approach to gardening which promotes good management and stewardship strategies….. Pest problems tend to occur when three factors are present: a susceptible plant, a conducive environment and an abundance of pests. Environmental factors include: conditions that are unfavorable to the plant or favorable to the pest population….

So while the suggestions below are a start, remember when dealing with “pests” you are working with  an intricate network of factors. “The impact of your gardening and pest management decisions often extends far beyond your property lines.”

How to manage slugs on swiss chard and spinach

Deter slugs from approaching your vegetables. If the garden is surrounded by lots of grass or weeds, the area will be moist and attractive to slugs. Bare soil or straw mulch is best around these vegetables.

Attract slugs  using tuna cans in the garden filled with beer.

Plant a “Judas crop” or a crop that slugs really enjoy like green mustard – slugs love this. The aim is to attract them to this crop and hopefully they will leave your other veggies alone.

Use diatomatious earth around the plants. This is a sharp powder like substance made of tiny marine organisms . Soft bodied creatures will die as they crawl across.

Suggestions to deal with the small grey white bugs (squash bugs) on zucchini/squash

Janette’s suggestions:

These bugs live in the soil so ideally avoid planting any kind of squash or cucumber in the infested area for a year or two to break the cycle and encourage them to move on.

For immediate control dust your plants with rotenone or pyrethrin. This is a temporary solution as the insects will return.

Plant a heritage variety of squash. While these are sprawling, they appear to be less susceptible to squash bugs.

Tracey’ suggestions:

Pick the easily visible and identifiable eggs off the underside of the leaves. They are bright orange and fairly big. Place a tray underneath the leaf and scrape off the eggs with a knife. If you are able to get all the eggs, you have taken care of the problem.

She also noted that squash bugs like to hide under boards/logs in the garden, so if you are prepared to go out early  in morning and lift these boards, you will be able to get the adult insects there. It does take patience. If you are prepared to go out early you could introduce a board to attract them.

Is it true that cayenne pepper will keep the squirrels away from newly planted veggie seedlings?

Cayenne pepper is not an effective solution.

Mable has observed the squirrels being entirely unaffected by pepper in her garden and recommends a wire structure to keep them out.

Tracy notes that mixing and using a homemade pepper spray is not advised as it can damage animals eyes and is cruel/harmful.

Possible alternatives:

Get a cat. Janette’s cat keeps the squirrels away from her garden.

Build a structure to keep them out. One example – make a hoop with flexible pvc piping and cover this with bird netting.

For a big vegetable garden Janette recommends a motion sensing sprinkler. It has a 9 volt battery and will release an 8 second water spray when animals come into the vicinity. This works for deer and rabbits and possibly also squirrels.

What likes to eat allium leaves and blooms? (they also ate my geraniums)

Description of the bites: bigger bites possibly indicate rabbits (as opposed to the smaller bits from insects)  – see solutions above.

How should I deal with caterpillars on my hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’?

Caterpillar description: The caterpillar is small and green with a black head.

Caterpillar life cycle/habit:  The caterpillar fuses two leaves together with silk and then eats the leaf on the inside, followed by the flower. It then pupates and drops off into the soil. The following year, the moths emerge and lay their eggs in the soil at the base of the plant. So once again the cycle begins. This cycle is annual.

Possible approaches:

  • Prevent caterpillar establishment by cleaning up around the plant in the late winter early spring.  (Leaving the hydrangeas over the winter keeps the snow cover, which is beneficial for the plants).
  • Cut off the plants at 10 cm from the ground early in the spring to prevent the caterpillars climbing. The flowers bloom on new wood so you won’t lose all blooms that year.
  • If you are too late to cut the plants down, then you can pick the caterpillars off the leaves. Remember this is an annual cycle so you will only have to do this for a brief period.
  • If the caterpillar invasion is bad, Janette recommends using BtK (Bacillus thuringiensis “kurstaki”).  This is a bacteria bought in a small bottle in concentrated form. It must be diluted with water  before being sprayed on the plant. When the caterpillar ingests a sprayed leaf, it is killed from the inside. Note that BtK is water soluble so you need to respray after rain. (Janette also recommends BtK for Cabbage Worm and Broccoli)

While there was also mention of rotenone, this is less targeted and will adversely affect a broader range of insects. Bt is more selective.

How to get rid of little red beetles on lilies (Lilly beetles,  Lilioceris lilii)

Mabel picks them off by hand.

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Happy gardening!

Reporting by Colette McKinnon, Master Gardener in Training, Rideau 1000 Island Master Gardeners