Kick-off the summer with our guide to the best seasonal produce in June. British produce shines in summer, when berry season is in full swing and elderflower adorns hedgerows across the UK. Fresh broad beans and peas, succulent gooseberries, raspberries and strawberries. It is hard to make the most of all the amazing produce there is on offer in the summer.
Take a look at our favourite June finds:
Gooseberries are ready to be picked in June and are delicious cooked in pies or swirled into sweetened cream to make a gooseberry fool. They’re easy to grow, and just a single bush will reward you with hundreds of berries. Dessert varieties are delicious in fresh fruit salads. Ideally, you should pick and eat the berries on the same day. Gooseberries can be cooked in pies or stewed to make purées, jams and chutneys. Simply, top and tail them before cooking.
Recipe: Gooseberry Gimlet
How to grow guide:
Gooseberries aren’t fussy when it comes to soil type, but they do prefer it to be well-drained and contain plenty of garden compost. Full sun is best, especially for dessert types, but they’re very tolerant of shade, making them an easy addition to your veggie garden. Spring or autumn is the best time to plant bare-root gooseberries. Space them 1.5m apart with a gap of 1.5m between the rows.
Most gooseberries are ready to pick in July or August but to ensure good-sized berries, thin out the bunches of fruit in June when the fruits are the size of a pea. These thinnings make wonderfully tart stewed fruit.
Asparagus is one of the better-known spring vegetables, although we only get to enjoy its short season for around seven to eight weeks. We say a welcome hello to British asparagus in late April and farewell again in June, meaning we have to cook and enjoy this speared veg in a very limited time frame. The reason why the Asparagus season is so short is that the plants use an enormous amount of energy to grow. On a sunny day, you can cut a spear from a plant in the morning and return to the same plant in the late afternoon to find that another spear has grown in its place. They can grow up to 10cm in one day, which demands a huge amount of energy. Not surprisingly, the plants can’t keep going for any great length of time. Because the plants need plenty of time to stock up on energy reserves for the following season, all asparagus growers in Britain stop cutting spears on 21 June – Midsummer’s Day – which is the traditional date for the asparagus to end.
How to grow guide:
Asparagus can be grown from seed, but it’s easier to plant one-year-old dormant plants, known as crowns, in March or April. To grow well, asparagus plants should be fed well and kept weed-free. It’s not fussy about soil type, as long as it’s well-drained.
In late winter, mulch the bed with compost to discourage weeds and retain moisture. Asparagus grows best in an open, sunny site. Asparagus is ready for harvesting from May to June but resist the temptation to harvest newly planted asparagus for the first two years, to let it get well established.
The zucchini, courgette or baby marrow is a summer squash, a herbaceous vine whose fruit is harvested from June to October when their immature seeds and epicarp are still soft and edible. The courgette is a variety of cucurbit, which means it’s from the same family as cucumber, squash and melon. It’s one of the most popular vegetables in the squash family, being extremely versatile, tender and easy to cook.
How to grow guide:
Courgettes are easy to grow and highly productive plants, bearing masses of delicious, nutty courgettes for use in summer dishes and salads. Sow courgette seeds in April in pots of peat-free, multi-purpose compost. Pot on seedlings when they’re big enough to handle, and plant outside when all risk of frost has passed. Courgettes are hungry plants, so do well grown in soil enriched with plenty of compost. Water plants regularly and feed weekly with a high potash fertiliser. Courgettes are best harvested in early June when they are around 10cm long – leaving courgettes to grow larger will reduce the plant’s vigour and fruiting potential.
Once regarded as one of the most magically powerful of trees, Elder is a forager’s favourite and its flowers are the scent of summer. Elderflowers come from the elder tree that generally grows as a shrub or small tree.
It’s abundant throughout the UK, in woods and along roadside hedgerows. From late May you’ll see masses of tiny white flowers hanging in sprays which develop into purple elderberries later in the summer. Due to the late start of Summer, the Elderflower trees have bloomed closer to June. The flowers and berries are the only edible part of the plant. They are mildly toxic and have an unpleasant taste when raw. Cooking destroys toxic chemicals.
Elderflowers are ready around late May to mid-June. They’re best picked when the buds are freshly open on a warm, dry, sunny day, well away from traffic fumes. Give them a shake to remove any insects and rinse briefly in cold water before using.