At last, the threat of frost has passed and the longest day of the year arrives. With this brings the prospect of summer vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, courgettes and peppers, all of which were planted from the beginning of May.

It is always best not to rush into planting these tender crops, otherwise you end up worrying about frosts and having to fleece crops which are already stringed up.

Our garden is mostly planted up by June, and usually looks its best now, before the earlier crops start to fade a little, and still with the vibrancy of late spring. It is a time when we start to see some of the early crops being replaced by a succession of salads. The salad mix can have a huge variety of leaves, with various lettuces as the summer stalwarts. We especially like Cerbiatta, and you can’t beat Maureen, a lovely little gem. 

One of our favourite leaves this time of year is agretti, which we grow in tunnels for the tender salad leaves and outside as a vegetable to blanch. It is an Italian vegetable likened to samphire, with a slightly salty crunchiness. It is notoriously difficult to germinate, and we find it best to save our own seeds. We leave a few plants to mature without harvesting them, then simply hang them up in the polytunnel from October onwards where the seed ripens further. We then sow it from January successionally through to April or May.

Other leaves that we are harvesting now include summer purslane and goosefoot. We grow these in polytunnels, but they will do fine in a fairly warm, dryish summer outside too. Also salad burnet, chervil, amaranth, fenugreek, nasturtiums, peashoots and endive to name but a few.

For us, June is a time to reflect on all the planning and work that has gone into the market garden over winter and spring, when we can look at the garden and be proud of how beautiful it is. However, the work certainly doesn’t stop here, and there is plenty to do to keep the weeds down and ensure beds are constantly being utilised. 

As the early spring crops such as radish, peas and broad beans begin to fade, we usually mow them down and cover the beds with black silage plastic to help kill off any weeds and speed up the breaking down process. In this way, we capture the energy and nutrients stored in the previous crop, ready to feed the next. It usually takes around 3 weeks for the crop residues to break down enough to take off the plastic, rake and plant something new, so we always plan to have trays of new crops ready for planting in place of the old.

Ash and Kate run Trill Farm Garden, supplying the Old Dairy Kitchen and many other local restaurants with fresh, seasonal and varied produce. 

Visit the course page to find out more about the Salad Growing course.