Favourite seeds for 2018

I have three medium sized vegetable beds. One of these is filled with strawberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, a gooseberry and dahlias; the other two are empty and ready for spring.

Sorting through the seeds I’ve been hoarding over the past few months and I’ve found some that I am so excited to try and grow!

It can be easy to sow seeds that are tried and tested; each year I choose a few that are new and unfamiliar to me.

  1. Tomato ‘Black Russian’
  2. Tomato ‘Yellow Pear’
  3. Kale ‘Dwarf Green Curled’
  4. Broccoli ‘White Sprouting Early’
  5. Pumpkin ‘Munchkin’
  6. Squash ‘Turks Turban’
  7. Borlotti Bean ‘Lingua de Fuoco 2’
  8. Kohl Rabi ‘Delicacy Purple’
  9. Samphire
  10. Trachymene Coerulea ‘Blue Lace Flower’
  11. Nasturtium ‘Empress of India’
  12. Dill

Let me know the new seeds that you are trying this year on Twitter or Instagram @eogardening.

Can social media become your horticultural tutor?

Being self-employed means I work alone. It’s hard to experience new things/be exposed to new gardening techniques when I don’t have a traditional, real life, role model; so I’ve let the people I interact with on social media become mine.

After a few years as a gardener, you find yourself beginning to repeat what you’ve done year after year; using the same tools, same techniques, sowing similar seeds and planting the same plants.

Last year, I challenged myself to follow every new person I came across on social media that would enhance my horticultural knowledge; botanists that specialise in unique plants, garden maintenance business owners that thrive and private gardeners who have long-term experience etc.

It’s provided a great wealth of knowledge and taught me things that makes jobs easier and a lot quicker. I’ve also discovered new plants that have diversified my planting plants.

Instagram is most valuable for video content, which is easy to follow; horticultural theory can be complicated to understand. It’s also great for tool reviews, there are so many different tools on the market and finding one suitable is difficult. Twitter is best for discovering unusual plant species, seed exchanges, diagnosing a pest/disease and general chat!

It’s also nice to upload a post and be given confirmation that what you’re doing is correct!

Some of the best (I could have continued this list for days):

  1. @fittleworthhousegardens
  2. @stvnhwrd14
  3. @ljclementsgardener
  4. @s.hockenhull
  5. @thomasdstone
  6. @mightyoaksfromtinyacorns
  7. @rekha181
  8. @botanygeek
  9. @alysfowler
  10. @headgardenerLC
  11. @DHgardening
  12. @londnplantology
  13. @j.l.perrone
  14. @hugh.cassidy
  15. @papaver

 

Let me know who else I should follow in the comments!

 

*NOTE: as a professional horticulturist you should study for qualifications.*

GROW: Samphire

Samphire has an impressive nutritional value, packed with essential minerals and almost no fat. It is a popular ‘superfood’ that is often used to accompany fish dishes or in salads. It has a lovely fresh taste!

I live too far from the coast to get fresh samphire. Like FRESH samphire, the crisp salty young growth that has been harvested that day. Samphire bought from a supermarket is often expensive and disappointing. I saw Sarah Raven were selling samphire seeds and I’ve bought some! They are the best value samphire seeds I’ve found that you can buy.

This samphire should be grown in a pot. Choose a wide but shallow pot that it’ll live in few a while as it self-seeds each year.

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Use a mixture of seed compost and gravel (70:30 ratio) to obtain a moist but well-drained soil to sow your seeds onto the surface of. Then sprinkle a light layer of soil on top of the seeds.

Sow indoors: March-May or September-November.

Sow outdoors: May-June.

Place the flowerpot onto a windowsill or in a greenhouse to start then leave on windowsill or move to a sunny patio.

Water from the base only (into a saucer). Use a mixture of water and salt (1 pint: 1 tsp). Use real sea salt, not table salt or it’ll kill the plant.

Harvest from May-July. Treat it as ‘cut and come again’. Cut the young growth once the plant is established. Don’t harvest too late in the season as the plant will self-seed if left and new samphire will grow next year. Leave the pot in a greenhouse/on a windowsill.

 

GROW: Cosmos

Often labelled as ‘dainty’ and ‘sweet’. Cosmos are so much more than ‘easy to grow’. A border/plot filled with cosmos is alive and thriving. They can grow up to 1.2m (depending on variety) and have stems thick enough to withstand secateurs. These plants are great and should never be undervalued!

Grown by sowing the seeds indoors from February-April or outdoors April-May. It then flowers in June-October!

Cosmos attract bees and butterflies, their open flower heads allow the insects to wallow the in the glorious pollen. Make sure to dead-head during June-October to encourage flowering.

You can buy shorter varieties for smaller spaces or pinch out the tops when they are seedlings; this will encourage the plant to become more compact.

These plants are annuals so make sure to dig them up in autumn, when flowering has finished. You can harvest the dry seed heads and sow the seeds next year.

My top 5 favourites for 2017!!!

  • Mixed Sensation
  • Psyche White
  • Double Click Cranberries
  • Double Click Rose
  • Versailles Tetra

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GROW: Edamame Beans

Edamame beans are currently a ‘superfood’; they are rich in protein, minerals and vitamins. You can purchase them in supermarkets however they are quite expensive. They are also packaged in two layers of plastic; this puts me off buying them when I know I could grow my own.

I purchased the seeds from Sarah Raven; these are the best price and quality I could find. The beans are a variety called ‘Elena’; these are adjusted to growing in a British climate.

I will sow 10 seeds into 9cm pots with a mix of seed compost and perlite (50:50 ratio). I will continue to do this every week for 5 weeks successional sowing from April to May.

You can sow the seeds outdoors once the soil has warmed up from June -July.

Plant in full sun, in well drained soil. Can tolerate light-ish shade.

As they grow tall, I will use a bamboo cane and tie the plant stem to it, loosely with twine. This will support the plant to prevent any damage.

Edamame will flower/fruit from June-November. Harvest the whole plant once the bean pods grow to 5cm in length and become plump.

If you are restricted by space you can grow edamame in large flowerpots that have good drainage; use a mixture of compost and gravel. Place these on a sunny patio.

I will take photos whilst growing these this year and will post the result in June-November when I will (hopefully) harvest the plants! I am excited to grow these as they taste delicious!

Sow seeds in March

March is when jobs start to build up in the garden. Taking time out to sow seeds is relaxing whilst still being productive.

I have written a blog on what to sow in January. You can continue to sow most of those seeds until April; this will give you a succession of vegetables throughout summer.

My top favourite flowers to sow now:

  1. Cosmos
  2. Delphinium
  3. Scabiosa
  4. Nigella
  5. Helianthus

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Flower seeds that can be sown outside now:

  1. Sweet peas
  2. Wildflower mixes
  3. Californian poppies
  4. Cornflowers
  5. Clarkia

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Vegetable seeds to sow:

  1. Carrots (straight into the ground)
  2. Leeks
  3. Parsnips
  4. Squash

I like this mix of flowers and vegetables. You can also find guides on what to grow at Thompson & Morgan or Sarah Raven.

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Edible flowers

There’s an influx of Instagram posts picturing buddha bowls filled to the brim with the most colourful vegetables and fruits; it’s all about creative style and making your meal look the most appetising.

Flowers are now being used to decorate these meals, not edible flowers.. but ‘pretty’ flowers or berries. This is so dangerous as many edible flowers still come with a caution label.

These few examples below illustrate the use of poisonous berries and flowers. None of the posts come with a disclaimer explaining that the flowers/berries are INEDIBLE and are only used to improve the aesthetic. This can be fatal in some cases, or at the very least, cause discomfort.

There is an ample list of edible flowers. Grown very easily these flowers will aid in some people’s path to self-sufficiency; some can be grown in containers on balconies or small patios! These flowers are beautiful and nutritious; they make a wonderful addition to meals.

A few edible flowers available spring/summer:

Borage

Rosemary

Viola ‘Sorbet Delft Blue F1’

Viola ‘Heartsease’

French Marigold ‘Durango Yellow’

Dianthus ‘Electron’ (sweet William)

Roses ‘Darcy Bussell”, ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and ‘Comte de Chambourd’

Calendula ‘Calypso Orange’

Nasturtium ‘Empress of India’

Courgette Romanesco

Chives

Websites for exploring edible flowers:

http://theedibleflowershop.co.uk

https://www.sarahraven.com/articles/blog#b

http://maddocksfarmorganics.co.uk

Take care eating any edible flower as it can cause adverse reactions in different people. All these flowers are throughly researched and tried/tested as edible.

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