A couple of encouraging friends have asked me to write a monthly post on how to grow veg & cut flowers. This is for those of you who want to ‘grow their own’ but don’t expect to spend more than a couple of sunny mornings a month in their garden. I have six raised beds that I think are worth filling with the list below:
Veg – peas, salad, french beans, chioggia beetroot, potatoes, cavalo nero, tomatoes & courgettes
Flowers – sweet peas, cornflowers, nasturtiums, borage, viola’s & marigolds
Herbs – flat leaf parsley, basil & mint
These are the things I find most useful in my life. A few cut flowers to take to friends and put in the house. Enough salad to never have to buy hated plastic bags of the stuff through the summer. French beans for the kids. Greens for because they’re easy and provide through the winter too. Potatoes, edible flowers and chioggia beetroot for when friends come round. Most things I choose are aesthetic too but thats half the point of growing them to me.
I have a small greenhouse that I inherited but you could start seeds on a window sill or just go and buy seedlings from the garden centre or the likes of Sarah Raven. You won’t necessarily get everything or the varieties I recommend but you should be able to get a good choice of sweet peas, french beans, courgettes and peas as seedlings.
Time to get your veg garden tidied up and mulch with a good layer of compost/ manure so that soil starts to heat up as the days get longer and warmer.
If you haven’t already then buy your seeds. Mine are from a mix of places but mainly Thomas Etty (good for Heritage) and then Franchi (so much seed) for Chioggia Beetroot & Gigante Parsley. See pictures below.
Sow outside – cornflowers/peas
Sow inside – although you would usually start them earlier it isn’t too late to sow sweet peas on your window sill into root trainers or order them online as seedlings. Fill a small seed tray with a mix of vermiculite and seed compost, scatter with parsley seed and then lightly cover with a scattering of the compost mix. Keep damp. You can do the same with the tomatoes.
I have covered my first sown bed with hawthorn branches to protect them from the neighbours cat and hungry birds. Free and very effective!
This is what I've sown this month:
Pea - alderman/Thomas Etty
Cornflower - I like the normal blue ones/Thomas Etty
Sweet Pea - Henry Eckford/ Buford Garden Centre (I'd also planted a selection from English Sweet Peas in Feb - see earlier post)
Flat leaf parsley - Gigante Di Napoli/ Franchi
Tomato - Costoluto di Parma/ Franchi