San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

June Is for Tending, Planting, Composting

Sunny, clear morning skies, rainy afternoons and ripening fruit on the trees are all part of June days in Costa Rica. June is also a time for tending the garden, planting, and mowing the lawn, and it’s a great time to transform nature’s prolific green biomass into rich compost fertilizer.

Grass clippings, weeds from garden cleanup, leaves and kitchen waste can all be recycled to make compost. Layer this valuable waste to build a pile about a meter high. Once the rains have thoroughly moistened the pile, cover it with a layer of soil and a sheet of black plastic to keep the insects out. Turn the pile every two weeks, and in two months you will have odorless compost that looks like topsoil.

Don’t add fresh materials to an old compost pile. Instead, start building a new pile. Several piles in different stages provide a steady supply of compost, which can be used to rejuvenate garden soil fertility.

Beans, corn, radish, cucumber, peanuts, chayote and squash can be planted directly in the garden soil during June. To keep a steady supply of salad greens for the kitchen, plant flats with seeds of the following: lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, celery, sweet peppers and parsley.

Highland gardeners can also add broccoli, cauliflower and beets.

After about one month, when the seedlings are 5 to 7 centimeters tall, transplant them to small pots or recycled plastic cups with three holes punched in the bottoms.

Strained compost is the best soil for this stage. After two to three weeks, when the seedlings are growing vigorously, transplant them to the garden beds.

When you dig a hole to transplant, add half a shovelful of compost for each plant to ensure good growth. Compost fertilizer is also available in many leading nurseries.

June is also a good month to plant fruit trees, shrubs and ornamentals.

Check with your local nurseries for grafted fruit trees. “Hayden” and “Julie” mangos are two excellent varieties for the home garden.

“Washington Navel” oranges, lemons and sweet mandarins are the best for backyard orchards. Highland gardeners can plant “Ana” apples and “Haas” avocados, while “Simpson” and “Booth” avocados are suited for lower elevations.

I hope these monthly suggestions will help you have a successful garden during the year. If you have questions or gardening wisdom to share, contact me at

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