June is a busy month in the vegetable garden. David Samson / Forum News Service

Mother Nature has tested our patience this spring. The season started nicely until cold winds the last half of May made tomato plants shiver and suffer. Then she changed her mind and ushered in June with a week of hot wind more typical of August. And much of the region is very dry, missing out on normal spring rains.

Even though nature can be quirky, what other endeavor gives fresh food, good exercise and a major sense of accomplishment? Here’s a June to-do list for vegetable gardening:

• Although early bird gardeners are enjoying radishes, peas, lettuce, spinach, kale and other cool-loving vegetables that were planted in April, many of us have weeks to go before enjoying fresh crops. For anyone who hasn’t started their garden yet, most vegetables can still be planted around June 10 with success. Speed the process by watering immediately after planting, and tending closely.

• Carrots, radishes, lettuce, spinach, beets, and similar small-seeded vegetables that emerge thickly benefit from “thinning” in June. Larger seeds like corn, beans, peas, and squash can be spaced appropriately when planting.

• Seed packets often indicate the preferred final spacing when thinning, but usually an inch or more apart is fine for carrots, radish, spinach and lettuce. Root crops like beets can be thinned a bit farther to allow development of the bulbous root.

• Spacing is accomplished by gently pulling or cutting off excess seedlings with a small scissors. Thin vegetables just as soon as they’re large enough…