Last Chance: Sow These 7 Crops in June!

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Alien-looking purple kohlrabi

The garden’s finally looking full, and all that effort earlier in the season is paying off. This is such an incredible moment in the gardening year – I just love it! But the show’s not over yet, because now’s the time to make more sowings to keep those harvests coming for even longer!

And have I got some absolute beauts for you today: brilliant brassicas, carrots that’ll keep you crunching right through winter, a trio of truly tremendous herbs, and – as if all that’s not enough – a vegetable that’s as eyelid-flutteringly gorgeous as it is tasty!

Sowing Sprouting Broccoli in Summer

Broccoli or calabrese is one of the joys of the summer garden, but to keep the party going right through next winter we need to start off some sprouting broccoli now. I love winter-hardy purple sprouting broccoli for its delicate spears, which are delicious steamed. This really is royalty among winter veggies!

This is a brassica that’s definitely worth sowing into plug trays away from the main growing areas. That way it can be started off while the ground it will eventually go into is still occupied by an earlier crop. This means I can overlap crops by as much as two months – that’s super savvy space-saving efficiency! My plan is for the sprouting broccoli to end up where my broad beans are currently growing, making this cold-defying broccoli an A-rated succession crop!

Purple sprouting broccoli
Sow sprouting broccoli now for overwintering

Sow a couple of sprouting broccoli seeds into each plug of sifted multi-purpose potting mix, then sprinkle over more potting mix to cover the seeds. Water them, and add a label so you know what’s in there.

Once the seedlings germinate, thin out the smallest seedlings to leave just one per plug. Once you can see roots poking out of the holes in the bottom of the plugs, that’s usually a good sign that they’re ready to plant into the ground. However, timings don’t always work out perfectly – sometimes a period of cooler weather might hold the first crop back, for example – so you may need to pot them on into a slightly larger pot while their garden space is still occupied. They can then grow on for another few weeks before planting. No growing season is like the next, and having this option of potting on gives valuable flexibility.

Plant the seedlings out about 16in (40cm) apart. You should be able to start harvesting your first broccoli spears from very early next spring – something to most definitely look forward to!

Crazy-looking kohlrabi needs to be sown before the weather gets too hot

Sowing Kohlrabi - The Aliens Have Landed!

Kohlrabi is, let’s face it, an outlandish member of the brassica family! The fascinating thing is that the ‘bulb’ you see sitting above ground is, in fact, a swollen stem. Its name comes from the German for cabbage: kohl, and turnip: rube, and tastes a bit like a cross between turnip and broccoli. In fact, most of the brassicas we know and love are all the same species, just bred for different characteristics: kohlrabi has its swollen stem; cabbage has been bred for an enormous terminal bud; Brussels sprouts for swollen side buds; kale for bigger, better leaves; and broccoli and cauliflower for over-sized flower buds. But they’ll happily cross with each other as they’re essentially the same. Remarkable, right? That never fails to blow my mind!

Like all brassicas, kohlrabi is a cool-season crop, so if you endure hot summers then early June is perhaps your last chance to sow it. You can always pick things up again in early autumn.

Kohlrabi can be sown into plug trays just like winter-hardy broccoli. Again, sow two seeds per plug and then cover, label, and water. Germination should happen in under a week in warm weather. Pot the seedlings on if necessary, until planting out at about 10in (25cm) apart each way. It won’t be long before you’re tucking into shaved stems in a salad, or perhaps some tasty kohlrabi fries!

In most gardens, both broccoli and kohlrabi will need to be protected from butterflies and birds with netting.

Maincrop carrots
Chunky maincrop carrots are great for storing

Maincrop Carrots

Talking about winter feels almost taboo when summer’s barely got started, but – if you can bear it – please look ahead to those chilly months, because we need to crack on and sow carrots for winter harvests now.

Carrots suitable for overwintering or lifting to store are usually the biggest of all carrot varieties - look out for a maincrop variety described as storing well if you plan to lift them to store in autumn. Sow them into good, loose soil, as many of these will grow into whoppers!

Carrots are best sown direct where they are to grow. In warm weather, it’s a good idea to water along the rows first to help get moisture exactly where it’s needed, right next to the seeds. And by watering into the row only, you’ll avoid wetting the rest of the soil surface, which will help keep weeds from getting the upper hand. Of course, this works best in periods of dry weather.

Carrot seeds
Sow pinches of tiny carrot seeds thinly into pre-watered drills

Create drills a foot (30cm) apart. Sow your carrot seeds nice and thinly into the drills, then cover the seeds back over with soil. You shouldn’t need to water them for at least another few days since the bottom of the drill is moist, but if it gets especially warm be sure to water along the rows to hasten germination.

Maincrop carrots will need to be thinned out if most of the seeds germinate. Just pull out the little plantlets to leave them about an inch or two (3-5cm) apart, then water along the row to knock back the carrotty scent and avoid alerting the local carrot fly!

This is also a great time to sow other root veggies for winter harvests like beetroot and swede - don't delay!

Leafy Herbs to Start in Summer

Leafy herbs bring so much to the table, don’t they? I’ve got three rubber-stamped must-grows ideal for sowing in the first days of summer.

Dill flowers
Beneficial bugs love dill flowers


First up, dill. Dill grows pretty fast, and its soft, feathery foliage turns heads too! It’s a really useful herb for flavouring your own pickles. If you let it flower, you’ll also find that it’s a real boon for beneficial bugs.

It’s a great companion to so many vegetable crops, including tomatoes. Rake the soil then broadcast a pinch of seeds across the area. Tickle the seeds in with your rake, and water to finish. The seedlings pop up fast and I reckon with these warmer, longer days you could get your first harvest within two months – perfect for perking up poultry or adding a little finesse to fish.

Parsley will thrive in partial shade


I love starting parsley off from grocery store-purchased living herbs, which can just be split apart, potted up, grown on then transplanted once they’re a touch bigger. But if you’d prefer to sow them, this is easy to do too.

Like dill, parsley will pull in the beneficial bugs when it flowers in its second year. In the meantime, I can look forward to lots of leaves. I prefer plain- or flat-leaved parsley, which I reckon is more versatile in the kitchen, and it grows a bit quicker than the curled-leaf type too.

Whereas dill needs good sunshine, parsley can cope with dappled shade. Sow little pinches of seed thinly into drills that are a little under half an inch (1cm) deep, and then just cover them back over.

Now these guys can take a while to germinate – up to six weeks in fact – so you’ll need to keep the area watered and weed-free while you wait. Once the seedlings are up, thin them out to around 6in (15cm) apart. If you have extras, it’s easy to carefully dig them up to plant elsewhere.

Coriander seedlings
Sowing after midsummer makes coriander less likely to bolt


Our third herb, ideally sown later in the month, is coriander, which looks similar to flat-leaved parsley. In hotter climates you may find this herb grows best in a shadier spot, as it doesn’t like it too hot.

Coriander germinates and grows quickly, and you can grow plants quite close together in a pot to harvest almost as a microgreen. Fill your container with an multi-purpose peat-free potting mix, then scatter over the seeds so they land about an inch (2-3cm) apart. Cover with a smidgen more potting mix. I like to sow these after the summer solstice because they’re less likely to bolt (flower prematurely) once the nights are starting to draw in again.

Keep the seedlings well-watered and move them into a lightly shaded position if the weather gets very hot. You can expect to start cutting leaves in maybe six to eight weeks. Nice!

Bulb fennel (Florence fennel)
This statuesque beauty can be tricky, but it's worth the effort!

Supercharge Your Salads With Bulb Fennel (Florence Fennel)

No gardener is perfect – we all have our challenges to wrestle with. Mine’s bulb fennel, also known as Florence fennel, a very beautiful but picky princess which seems to have an annoying habit of bolting before it’s bulbed up. I say ‘bulb’, but really what we have here, as with kohlrabi, is a swollen stem.

With a texture a bit like celery and a gentle, aniseed flavour, this delicate and dainty darling is worth persisting with. I love it with fish or shaved with a mandolin into salads – my absolute favourite way to serve it up!

Bulb fennel (Florence fennel)
Give bulb fennel a sunny spot in rich soil

I’m growing a bolt-resistant variety this time round, which I hope will help. Sow the seeds into plug trays, as the plants hate the root disturbance of pricking them out from a pot. By delaying sowing until it’s T-shirt weather, these warm-season wannabes are far less likely to bolt than earlier-sown plants.

Sow two seeds per plug of sifted multi-purpose potting mix, and snip off the weakest of the seedlings if they both pop up. Just barely cover them over with potting mix, give them a big ol’ drink, and pop in your label.

Once these filigree-leaved divas germinate, grow them on until they fill their plugs then plant them about 6-8in (15-20cm) apart into a warm, sunny, well-drained spot. They’ll appreciate soil that’s been enriched with a caress of compost to help them grow nice, fat bulbs – or stems rather…well, you know what I mean!

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