Maine Home Garden News June 2023

In This Issue:

June Is the Month to . . .

By Barbara Harrity, Penobscot County Master Gardener Volunteer

When it comes to gardening, we’ve entered the months when the better question may be, “What isn’t it the month to…?” But here are some items that you may want to add to your to-do list.

  • Finish planting and transplanting. It’s not too late to transplant tomatoes and other warm-weather crops. June is also the time to start seeds for fall brassicas like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. While you’re at it, consider succession planting of vegetables such as beans, beets, lettuce, radishes, or corn to assure a continuous supply of vegetables during the summer and fall.
  • Prepare for Japanese beetles. Japanese beetles usually show up in Maine between the last week of June and the first week of July. Remove beetles daily (best in the morning) by knocking them into a bucket of slightly soapy water. Bagged pheromone traps, if poorly placed or left unmanaged, can potentially increase beetle populations by attracting beetles to your yard.
  • Check for insect pest damage. Make the rounds of your garden each week, checking plants for leaf, stem, and blossom damage. Check the undersides of the leaves for egg masses. Identify the pest(s) before applying any treatments. Visit UMaine Extension’s Insect Pests, Plant Diseases & Pesticide Safety website for facts sheets about common insect pests in Maine.
  • Control garden weeds. Early and regular weeding makes a big difference. Tilling, hand pulling, clipping, and mulching are sound weed control strategies. For more information about weeds and weeding methods, watch Victory Garden for ME on Managing Weeds, and see the “Helpful Tips and Resources” section below the video. You can also read more in Bulletin #4311, Section 11: Controlling Weeds in the Garden.
  • Fertilize annual flowers. Annuals will benefit from split applications of fertilizer during the summer. Dead-heading the spent flowers will help maintain their flowering habit during the season.
  • Pinch back tall-growing fall bloomers. Asters, monarda, helianthus, and other tall, late-blooming flowers will be stockier and more floriferous if you pinch them back in June.
  • Peony (Bandit) blossom
    Peony (Bandit). Photo by Tori Jackson.

    Stake peonies to support heavy blossom set. See the Kansas State publication, Peonies in the Garden (PDF) for information on peony care.

  • Evaluate your landscape. What plants are thriving? What plants are struggling? Why? What issues or problems need to be addressed? Reach out to your local UMaine Extension county office for help troubleshooting landscape problems.
  • Keep an eye on rainfall amounts. Remember most crops do best with 1 to 1.5 inches of rain per week. A rain gauge is an inexpensive and valuable addition to your landscape.
  • Learn more about Maine Harvest for Hunger and reach out to a local food pantry. If you, too, tend to plant a bigger vegetable garden than you really need, consider taking part in the Maine Harvest for Hunger program. Growing extra beets, cabbage, carrots, winter or summer squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, or beans is a great way to support your community.
  • Go strawberry picking. We’re fortunate in Maine to have lots of farms that offer pick-your-own options. And in late June in Maine, this means strawberries. Local newspapers or television stations often have listings of nearby farms. Learn more about preserving your harvest from Bulletin #4039, Let’s Preserve Jellies, Jams, and Spreads.

Watering: the often forgotten key to success for your vegetable garden

By Rebecca Long, Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture Professional

Rain gauge. Shutterstock image.
Rain gauge. Shutterstock image.

Why is watering the forgotten secret to garden success?

When we think of our garden, many of us think about the plants we select, the soil we plant them in, and the things we add like compost and fertilizer. But without sufficient water, your garden can’t thrive. Water is essential to healthy plants in many ways.

How much water does my vegetable garden need per week?

A lot of things impact your garden’s water needs: the type of plant, growth stage, and weather conditions. A good rule of thumb is that your vegetables should get 1 ¼ – 1 ½ inches of water per week. This can come from rainwater you provide or a combination of the two. The best way to track rainfall is with a rain gauge! They are an inexpensive addition to your garden that will pay off.

How often should I be watering; once a day, once a week?

Don’t wait till you see your plants wilting to water! If your soil holds moisture well you may be able to water approximately every 5 days, but for sandy soil, your garden might benefit from watering as often as every 2 days. The weather will also impact your watering schedule: the hotter, drier, and windier it is, the more often you’ll need to water. Also, factor in plant size: large plants with established root systems can access more soil and therefore more water but freshly planted seedlings or sprouted seeds may need watering every day to prevent their small shallow root systems from drying out.

Why not just water a little every day to be safe?

Watering every day is likely too often for established plants. Plant roots need oxygen as well as water. It is better to water deeply every few days, to help your plants establish a deep robust root system. The best way to know when to water is to check your soil! Poke a finger into the soil after you have watered and make sure at least the top 6 inches are wet. Wait until the top few inches have dried before watering again.

Watering plant. Shutterstock image.
Watering plant. Shutterstock image.

Ok, now I know when to water, but is there a best method for watering?

There are lots of options from the simplest (a watering can) to automated systems on timers. Sprinklers are a good option for your lawn or to water newly seeded areas. The downside to sprinklers is that you lose a lot of water to evaporation and leaf wetness can contribute to disease issues. Watering the soil surface is a great option to cut down on evaporation loss and leaf wetness. Soaker hoses are the simplest option to do this.

Is drip tape something I could try, or is that just for farms?

Drip irrigation is a great option for the home gardener! There are lots of options: drip tape, drip tube, or individual drippers that can be attached to a central line. There is an initial investment and learning curve, but once you get it set up you’ll save a ton of time watering! Especially if you set it on an automatic timer. The timer on my system even has the option to press a button and skip a scheduled watering if there has been rain. 

Drip irrigation in raised bed gardenI’m ready to try drip, what’s the next step?

I recommend starting with a kit so you get all the pieces you need and you know they are compatible. Check out Victory Garden Episode 6: How to Water Your Garden for more info including more resources about watering your garden.

Any other tips for watering?

Mulch, mulch, mulch! Mulch helps retain moisture in your soil and creates a better environment for soil organisms. Check out a future issue for more info on mulching.

Nourishing the Community Through Pick-Your-Own Vegetable Gardens

By Zabet NeuCollins, Assistant Director for Women for Healthy Rural Living

If you’ve ventured Downeast in the past four years, you may have heard of “the gardens” in Milbridge. For instance, I was recently chatting with my hairstylist in Ellsworth. When another patron heard I was from Milbridge, she exclaimed, “Milbridge? Why, I love the gardens up there!” The gardens she was referencing were the Incredible Edible Milbridge gardens at Milbridge Commons Wellness Park and next to the Red Barn Motel. These spaces are free, pick-your-own vegetable gardens open to everyone in the community. They have fundamentally changed our small town.

I’ve been working with Women for Healthy Rural Living, the non-profit that created these gardens, for six years. When I started, we collaborated with Maine Coast Heritage Trust to preserve a 4.6-acre parcel of land into what would become known as Milbridge Commons Wellness Park. We spent multiple years planning, meeting with the community, and working with a landscape designer. In 2018, our vision of Milbridge Commons became a reality.

And what a reality it has become! This coastal green space is within walking distance of Downtown Milbridge. It features sweeping views of Narraguagas Bay, a wheel-chair accessible walking trail, a children’s garden and playground, picnic tables, art installations, and during the summer months, bountiful Incredible Edible gardens, lush with organic vegetables and flowers.

The overarching goal of Women for Healthy Rural Living is to provide an equitable and accessible path to health and wellness. Incredible Edible Milbridge was instituted to address hunger and food insecurity as well as the skyrocketing rates of chronic disease in our community.

The tangible, immediate benefit of Incredible Edible is providing food to our vulnerable neighbors. The intangible benefit– the garden experience itself. Incredible Edible includes space for people to connect, a challenge in rural communities. One woman told us, “I love coming here! I meet someone new every time I visit.” The gardens have become a point of pride for residents, providing food, educational experiences, and a sense of community. In 2020, we were grateful to have Incredible Edible in place. We were well-positioned to continue to serve the community as COVID-19 raged and further impacted poverty in Downeast Maine.

Of course, it hasn’t always been easy. Like every gardener in Maine, we’ve experienced our fair share of deer problems. In 2021, we installed a solar-powered electric fence around the perimeter of the Commons. Later that season, a moose walked through the gardens and took the fence with him – as well as a few healthy bites of sunflower. We reinstalled it, only to have multiple community members reach out, worried about the proximity of the fence to the children’s playground. Because the fence is only active from dusk to dawn, we became aware of the need for additional signage. Milbridge has a substantial community of native Spanish speakers, and ensuring all our signage is translated into Spanish is essential.

Letting the community know when a vegetable is ready to harvest has also been challenging. In 2018 we created green “pick” signs and red “don’t pick” signs. But, of course, it’s not always so clear-cut. Some people harvest summer squash when it’s the width of a couple of fingers, and some when it’s triple that size. Tomatoes are a hot commodity and are often picked before they even turn red. The faintest blush will prompt some community members to start harvesting, and as soon as the harvest begins, there’s no stopping it! Root crops are the hardest to monitor.

We’ve addressed these issues by increasing signage, often including educational signs in the garden that explain when to harvest or encourage community members to ask a gardener if they have questions. We also host free garden workshops to increase community knowledge.

Like the rest of the world, we are seeing the effects of climate change. Last year’s arid summer could have threatened garden production. Fortunately, we had just installed drip irrigation at Milbridge Commons. 

In five short years, Milbridge Commons has become a wonderful community destination, a place that reflects the character of the community and serves the needs and interests of its people. The park is open year-round and is in its full glory from July through September. In 2023, Milbridge Commons became an official Master Gardener Volunteer project for Hancock and Washington County MGVs, and we are thrilled by this new collaboration. 

Our gardens have inspired Incredible Edible gardens throughout Downeast Maine, from the Blue Hill Community Garden to gardens in Machias. We love sharing Incredible Edible Milbridge and invite people to reach out if they would like to schedule a group tour, especially if there is interest in bringing this garden model to your community.

Backyard Bird of the Month: Baltimore Oriole

By Maine Audubon Seasonal Field Naturalist Andy Kapinos

Backyard Bird of the Month: Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Oriole. Photo credit: Maine Audubon

If you have apple or plum trees in your backyard, you have probably already seen Baltimore Orioles in them. These striking orange and black icterids return to southern and central Maine in mid-May and usually head straight for blossoming fruit trees to forage for insects. They will also visit feeders stocked with orange slices or fruit jelly, especially early in the nesting season. Their loud, clear whistles are the easiest way to find them, since they spend most of their time high in the canopy of deciduous trees, especially in floodplain forests and at the edges of fields and woodlands. Males return to these habitats first, and vigorously defend territories; females, arriving second, choose among these territories, and after courtship, select a nest site. Nests are most frequently constructed in American Elms, maples, and poplars (especially Cottonwood), all tall trees common in floodplain forests. The female does the majority of the nest-building, weaving together a pendulous, gourd-shaped nest out of three distinct layers of material: (1) an outer layer of flexible fibers, like grass or yarn, for shape; (2) a middle layer of woodier fibers for structure and strength; and (3) an inner layer of soft down, often from willow and poplar seeds. While difficult to spot (intentionally concealed) during the summer, these nests often remain hanging into the autumn and winter, when they are easier to spot in the bare trees. At that point in the year, most Baltimore Orioles have returned to wintering grounds in Central America, from Mexico to Ecuador, where they can often be seen on coffee and cacao farms. Supporting bird-friendly coffee and chocolate producers is a great way to conserve Baltimore Oriole’s habitat, even when the birds are not in our backyards.

For more on the importance of Maine native plants to support birds like the Baltimore Oriole and other wildlife, visit Maine Audubon’s “Bringing Nature Home” webpage

Maine Climate Outlook and Drought Indicators (June)

By Sean Birkel, Assistant Extension Professor, Maine State Climatologist, Climate Change Institute, Cooperative Extension University of Maine. 

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center 8–14 day outlook probability maps for June 2–8 show near normal temperature and precipitation.  The 1-month outlook for June (issued May 18) is likely above normal temperature and equal chance of above or below normal precipitation. Looking further out, the summer seasonal outlook for June–August (issued May 18) is likely above normal temperature and equal chance of above or below normal precipitation. These and other maps are available on the Maine Climate Office website.

coded maps of the United States, 8-14 temperature and precipitation outlook

As reported on the U.S. Drought Monitor, precipitation deficits have resulted in abnormal dryness across northern and eastern Maine.  Other parts of the state have received sufficient rainfall in recent weeks for streamflow, groundwater, and soil moisture indicators to register near normal for this time of year.  Precipitation and drought information is available from the Northeast Drought Early Warning System Dashboard.  As always, be sure to check for the latest weather forecast for your area.

color-coded maps of the state of Maine representing 7 day streamflow and ground water

For questions about climate and weather, please contact the Maine Climate Office.

Featured Extension Publications

Enjoy these timely publications from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension:

Browntail Moth Update #5: May 19, 2023

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

Very late last week, after our monitoring site visits were complete, we received a report of some browntail caterpillars that had developed to the fourth instar (life stage), which we confirmed at most of our sites this week. Fourth instar and older caterpillars have white markings on the sides of each body segment and have more irritating hairs that cause human health impacts. This is a tipping point for this species in terms of the number of irritating hairs as well as the growing appetites of the caterpillars. Feeding damage is apparent on some branches, and over the next couple of weeks, as the caterpillars grow, they will defoliate host plants from the top down, seemingly overnight.

As mentioned in previous updates, our native eastern tent caterpillar (ETC) webs can often be confused with browntail caterpillar webs. At this time of the year, ETC web development has surpassed browntail webs in size, reaching the size of a football in many areas around Maine (see photo below).

Dealing with Wandering Browntail Moth Caterpillars

Windy weather and the fact that the caterpillars are growing larger means that caterpillars may soon be found crawling on the sides of houses, decks, and around your dooryard. This means that there may be an increased chance of people coming into contact with the caterpillars, so caution should be exercised in areas of high infestations. These wandering caterpillars are also quite capable hitchhikers, and care should be taken not to spread them to other areas. Look for an upcoming update for more information on browntail hitchhikers.

If you wish to remove caterpillars from decks, buildings, driveways, and other surfaces, do it in a way that will not increase your risk of exposure to their hairs (do not use leaf blowers! People get rashes this way because it stirs up the hairs). You can dislodge them from areas out of reach with a strong jet of water. To remove them more permanently, add a couple of inches of soapy water to the canister of a wet/dry vacuum, vacuum them up, and allow them to sit for a day or two until the caterpillars have drowned. Then safely dispose of the contents (bear in mind, the toxin in the hairs is stable and may still cause irritation).

Plans for management through insecticide treatment, and some treatments, should already be made. We recommend working with a licensed pesticide applicator for insecticide treatments. In most years, treatments should be completed before the end of May to limit the buildup of toxic caterpillar hairs and host foliage loss. For more information see Browntail FAQ Page.

Protecting Maine’s Forests from Invasive Species During Vacation Season

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

Augusta, May 23, 2023 – The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) is taking immediate action to address the critical risk posed by the spread of invasive species through firewood transportation. These destructive pests and diseases significantly threaten Maine’s landscapes, trees, agriculture, forests, wildlife, and overall environment.

As Maine begins vacation and camping season, a key concern must be highlighted: the emergence of adult emerald ash borers (EAB) from ash trees during summer. These invasive beetles, which destroy trees, can easily spread to new locations through contaminated firewood carried by vacationers and campers.

Although invisible to the naked eye, invasive species can reside within firewood and unknowingly be transported over long distances. Once introduced, these pests and diseases have the potential to devastate our ornamental trees and forest habitats and impact fish, wildlife, and property values, resulting in substantial management costs.

It is important to recognize that even seemingly unblemished and pristine wood can harbor infestations and contribute to the spread of tree-killing pests and diseases. Therefore, immediate action is crucial to prevent the further proliferation of invasive species. 

DACF advises everyone to:

  • Recognize the threat: Firewood that has not been treated and is transported over distances greater than 10 miles poses a significant risk to our trees and forests.
  • Source firewood locally: While enjoying your time camping or heading up to camp in Maine, prioritize obtaining affordable, locally sourced firewood or explore heat-treated options from reputable in-state vendors. Visit the Firewood Scout website.

As part of its commitment to safeguarding Maine’s natural resources, DACF has implemented plant pest quarantines to limit the movement of specific plant materials. However, every individual must play their part in halting or slowing down the spread of invasive species. To learn more about ongoing forestry-related quarantines and invasive threats, please visit Quarantine Information.

Together, let’s protect Maine’s fish and wildlife and preserve our forest heritage for future generations.

EAB identification Resources


Question: I have attached a photo of my beach roses taken last fall.  Several of the branches have spiky round growths on them.  These branches seem to be dying.   Are you familiar with this problem and to you have any suggested remedies? 

Beach rose with mossy rose gall
Used with permission by the client.


Lynne M. Holland, Horticulture and Social Media Professional

Your beach roses have Mossy Rose Gall. This indicates the presence of a tiny wasp.  In reaction to an adult wasp laying an egg the plant “grows” a gall around it to suppress it. Generally, this doesn’t affect the plant but some consider it unsightly. This is a “housekeeping” thing, sprays would not really work. Rake up leaves around the plant in the fall, and remove the galls where possible in the spring.

Some people actually like the look of them, Love Thou the Rose, Don’t Leave Galls on its Stem, but then again some people like spiders too!

Jack Frost nipped at the trees!

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

Have you noticed unusual changes in the leaves of your trees? You’re not alone! Reports have been pouring in from concerned individuals who have observed shriveled, blackened, discolored, and deformed leaves in the past week.

A freeze event that occurred during the week of May 14 significantly impacted several tree species in a specific region of Maine. The affected area stretches south of Newport, extends east to the Midcoast, and reaches the New Hampshire border. Damage reports have been widespread, with western Maine experiencing severe damage. In contrast, scattered reports have been observed in other parts of the described area, often in exposed areas and cold draws where cold air settled overnight. The symptoms displayed by the affected trees vary greatly, ranging from mild discoloration (primarily reddish hues) to dead leaf tips and margins and even complete wilting and death. Some trees were fully wilted, while others only suffered freeze damage at specific parts of their structure, such as the tops or bottoms.

Only time will reveal how the trees will respond to this event. Healthy trees are expected to produce a new flush of leaves, although these may be smaller than usual. However, trees already experiencing additional stressors, such as inadequate moisture or poor health during the freeze, may struggle to recover from the damage.

It is important to monitor the condition of your landscape trees and provide them with appropriate care. Consulting with a licensed professional arborist or tree expert can help assess the extent of the damage and determine the best course of action. Consider working with a licensed professional forester and allowing time to gauge recovery before making management decisions about trees in the woods.

EFNEP, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program logoFlavored Water (No Sugar Added)

Serves: 6 | Serving Size: 1 cup

Ingredients for Large Serving (6 cups)

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, watermelon, pomegranate seeds, grapefruit, lemons, limes, etc.)
  • (Optional) 10 fresh mint leaves

Flavored waterIngredients for Single Serving (1 cup)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, watermelon, pomegranate seeds, grapefruit, lemons, limes, etc.)
  • (Optional) 2 fresh mint leaves


  1. Cut washed fruit, depending on the fruit you chose cut in half/slices/or chunks.
  2. (Optional) cut or tear-washed mint leaves in half.
  3. Place cut fruit and mint leaves in a large pitcher or a single-serving glass.
  4. (Optional) lightly mash fresh fruit to get the most flavor in the water.
  5. Fill with water. (Optional) substitute 1 cup of water for unflavored tonic or seltzer water.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to 4 hours to allow the ingredients to infuse.
  7. Strain and serve over ice if desired.
  8. Storage – to avoid bitterness drain fruit within 24 hours and refrigerate for up to three days.

Combination Ideas

  • Raspberry or strawberry, lemon, and mint
  • Kiwi, strawberry, and mint
  • Blueberry, lemon, and mint
  • Pineapple and mint
  • Watermelon and mint
  • Lemon and lime

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University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Maine Home Garden News is designed to equip home gardeners with practical, timely information.

For more information or questions, contact Kate Garland at or 1.800.287.1485 (in Maine).

Visit our Archives to see past issues.

Maine Home Garden News was created in response to a continued increase in requests for information on gardening and includes timely and seasonal tips, as well as research-based articles on all aspects of gardening. Articles are written by UMaine Extension specialists, educators, and horticulture professionals, as well as Master Gardener Volunteers from around Maine. The following staff and volunteer team take great care editing content, designing the web and email platforms, maintaining email lists, and getting hard copies mailed to those who don’t have access to the internet: Abby Zelz*, Annika Schmidt*, Barbara Harrity*, Kate Garland, Mary Michaud, Michelle Snowden, Naomi Jacobs*, Phoebe Call*, and Wendy Roberston. 

*Master Gardener Volunteers

Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

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