Sowing herbs, salad crops and bedding plants

With spring upon us, I’ve set a load of herbs, salad crops and flowers for this summer’s garden.

With the birds busily singing and making nests and the semi-regular appearances of the sun, I’ve been able to enjoy being outside a bit more over these last few days. It’s given me the chance to clear away the final remnants of last summer’s season and prune a Buddleia and trim down the mystery rosebush to encourage the buds to grow into this year’s flowering branches. So, with spring well and truly here, I’ve decided to sow some more seeds for this year’s garden.

Gardening kits

If you remember back to December, I received two gardening kits for Christmas – one from Unwins (or should I say ‘Secret Santa’?) and one from the Gardeners’ World brand. I’ve unpacked these and set them going – with Parsley ‘Moss Curled’ and Chives set in the Gardeners’ World kit.

Three pots for herbs from a Gardeners' World branded kit
The Gardeners’ World branded herb kit.

The Unwins kit was a bit misleading – as it shows the great range of salad crops on the box, but when you open the box there’s just two packs of mixed seed. So, i’ve actually not sown them and have chosen to grow another crop of Rocket ‘Skyrocket’ in the kit instead. Maybe i’ll come back to the mixed seed – as I had been excited by trying the Pak Choi.

flowers you can eat

Last year I rescued a few withering Nasturtium ‘Peach Melba’ plants and they really did well and brought a lot of much-needed aphid-eating hoverflies into the garden. So, this year I’ve bought a pack of Suttons’ Nasturtium ‘Jewel Mix’ to replicate the effect.

Nasturtium 'Peach Melba'
One of last year’s Nasturtium ‘Peach Melba’ plants recovering in the garden.

I’m pretty sure that the packet for last year’s seed mentioned eating the leaves, yet these new seeds recommends eating the flowers as part of a salad. I’ve never tried it as it feels a bit destructive to me – much like eating the flowers of Courgettes – again, apparently a delicacy. Maybe I’ll try eating some this year though.

Don’t eat these though…

My first sowing of the Salvia ‘Farinacea – Victoria’ seems to have produced just 4 plants – a bit disappointing really. The packet does say germination takes between 7-21 days, so I’ll leave the pot alone for a while longer, but set a few more. The blue flowers really seemed to draw the bees in last year, so I want to be sure I get a repeat this year.

Thankfully, last year’s Salvia ‘Nemerosa Ostfriesland’ has survived the winter and has begun growing again.

I’ve also picked up a packet of good old Cineraria ‘Maritima Silverdust’ – in a bid to add that delicate silver/grey foliage amongst the blue flowers of the Salvia.

Strawberry picking and some new arrivals

The garden is continuing to provide as the first strawberries are picked; the second courgette is picked; and new plants arrive.

Darting in and out of rain showers, I managed a couple of tasks in the garden this afternoon. The second Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ has now been picked – smaller this time, and weighing in at 275g. There’s plenty of flowers and some more little courgettes forming, but it’ll be at least a week until there’s another one to pick.

Strawberry 'Fragaria x ananassa Elsanta'
Behold! A ripe Strawberry ‘Fragaria x ananassa Elsanta’

Having spotted a Blackbird staring at a red strawberry on Friday morning, I had a good look at the strawberry situation today and found that there wasn’t one but three that were ready for picking. There’s many more forming too, but those are still a healthy green. These are from the two Strawberry ‘Fragaria x ananassa Elsanta’ plants that I picked up a few weeks ago. I’ve picked the three ripe fruits and had them with a little (about a teaspoon!) of set yoghurt – they were wonderfully sweet. Last year’s variety didn’t really fruit in these pots and spent most of the time just dying. A few runners made it to the ground, so there’s about 5 second-generation plants surviving, whilst the originals died off.

This afternoon after gym, I went back to Twenty Pence Garden Centre over in Wilburton, where I’d seen the wicker planters a few weeks back. It was here that these had entered my consciousness and had set me wondering whether I could plant my four Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ plants in them, seeing that the garden itself is pretty full. I’ve ended up with one that’s apparently for ‘Beans, Peas and other rigourous plants’ so whilst it is taller, I really bought it for the width and depth of it. I’ll be planting this up tomorrow, once I’ve sourced some more compost.

Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' alongside the Hydrangea
Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ alongside the Hydrangea

Whilst there, I also found yet more blue flowers in the form of Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ (Catmint) which I was attracted to more by the buzzing sound first rather than the colour. As i picked it up, the bees were following me in protest of me taking their food. I’ve now planted this towards the sunnier end of the garden. I moved the Tarragon French ‘Artemisia Dracunculus’ because it really hasn’t looked very happy and the vigorous growth of the courgette was beginning to intrude.

I spotted a slightly desperate-to-escape pot of Nasturtium ‘Peach Melba’ and so picked that up too. I figured that I could put some of these into the wicker basket pot with the aubergines. I’m aware that Nasturtium can also ward off some garden pests and that the young leaves are good in salads too. They’ve got a chance.

I also had time to pop over to Huntingdon Garden and Leisure, where I picked up a tray of Marigold ‘French Double Mixed’. These plants look sturdy enough to withstand those home-moving little pests, and I will be planting these in the gaps that I’ve made through pruning the Campanula ‘Persicifolia’ back.