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Sowing and growing update - 7th July 2022




This is my favourite time of year; the grass is green, the days are long and the garden is full of colour. However, although I've already had many vases of flowers this year, I think the cut flower season is a little later than usual because we haven't had many warm, sunny days. Am hoping that July brings sunny weather and warm nights and, in turn, armfuls and armfuls of gorgeous cut flowers.


Here's this month's sowing and growing update, and as you will see the flowers in my patch have definitely had a growth spurt but I feel we need some long hot days to encourage the flowers to bloom.


As before the information is grouped by month, and for each plant I've specified the number of weeks since sowing along with a photograph taken on the day of writing this blog, as well as the photos from previous months' updates.



The January Seed Box - Sweet Pea, Godetia, Gypsophila, Delphinium and Cleome


Sweet pea - week 25

I've been picking sweet peas every few days for the last week.


Sweet peas are hungry plants and benefit from a regular feed, I use a potash-rich tomato feed. The most important thing to remember with sweet peas is that once they are flowering you must keep picking them.


For the longest vase life, pick sweet peas when there are at least two unopened flowers at the tip of a stem. If you see any flowers that have dried out, snip them off.





Godetia - week 25


I planted out just 4 godetia plants into my cut flower patch and have been really pleased with the yield. every other day or so for the last ten days I've picked some godetia. The flowers have a delicate, crumpled tissue look and the stems are super-strong making them easy to arrange. Harvest your godetia when the first flower has opened, the others will follow one by one and can last ten days or more in the vase.


Gypsophila - week 25

Gypsophila is a classic florist's filler with its pretty white flowers on multi-branching stems. However, although the 4 plants I put into my patch have provided quite a few bunches of flowers, in general I've been a bit disappointed with the quantity and density of the yield.


I think growing gypsophila on a small scale is difficult and because of its short flowering period they probably need to be sown successional every three weeks which takes up a lot of space. So given most Cut Flower Patch growers have relatively limited growing space, I am thinking that we'll include alternative filler flowers in the 2022/2023 Cut flower Seed Boxes. Would be interested to hear your thoughts.





Delphinium - week 24

I planted out my delphiniums into a pot and after a rainy evening I went out the next morning and they'd all gone, another slug casualty, I think. It's always a bad start to the day when the seeds and seedlings you have carefully nurtured for months have all gone in a blink of an eye. As I don't use pesticides I've tried numerous non-chemical ways to control slug; nematodes, copper rings, eggshells and horticultural grit, although I've had some success the little pests still manage to get through my defences every so often.


Cleome - week 24

Despite 2 sowings of cleome I failed to get any seeds to germinate. I do hope you had more success than me.


The February Seed Box - Dahlia, Ageratum, Aster, Achillea and Rudbeckia


Dahlia - week 21

Talking of slugs, I've lost a fair few dahlias to hungry slugs over the years so this time I've kept a close eye on my plants, and have tired to keep them out of harms way - it seems to have paid off. At week 21 my dahlias are around 30cm high and looking healthy and robust. Not only are the ones in my cut flower patch thriving but I've also put a number into pots and given a dozen or so to neighbours and friends.


I am going to start feeding the dahlias every week with a tomato feed as they are hungry plants. When they reach about 20cm in height I will pinch out the growing tips to encourage bushier shapes.











Ageratum - week 21

After a slow start my ageratum has started to flower. I put 3 plants in my flower patch at around week 17 and they have definitely benefitted from being given space to grow. I pinched them out once they had 5 true leaves.


Aster - week 21

As my asters are now over 50cm tall I've decided to support them with canes even though the stems still look pretty robust. In previous years I've made the mistake of waiting to add supports, only to find out to my cost, that a heavy summer downpour and gusty winds can can cause a surprising amount of damage.


If your asters are in a pot keep an eye on them as these will dry out faster.













Achillea - week 21

I've also added supports to my achillea plants, they are fairly delicate and when they reached about 10cm in height they started leaning towards the sun. Aside from the problem of rain and wind, if flowers aren't supported the stalks can bend as the flowers search for the light and then they are less easy to cut and arrange in the vase. Its a good idea to start staking early in the growing season to avoid physical damage to the plant and root disturbance.


Rudbeckia - week 21

I was a little concerned that I had planted out by rudbeckia plants too soon as they were quite small at the time, I needn't have worried as they are now romping away. I haven't pinched them out and they shouldn't need staking or feeding. Ideally they should be picked when the petals have unfurled but the central cone is still tight and the tiny flowers have yet to open, I'll be keeping a close eye on them.


The March Seed Box - Sunflower, Zinnia, Cosmos, Cornflower and Greater Quaking Grass


Sunflower - week 17

Having lost lots of sunflowers to slugs over the years, I didn't put my sunflowers into my cut flower patch until they reached a round 30cm in height. Maybe I was a little too cautious? I pinched them out when they were around 20cm high which should help to reduce their eventual height and encourage sturdier plants. Sunflowers need a strong support post pushed into the ground. I've been feeding my sunflowers with a tomato feed, being careful not to get it on the stems as they may rot.


Zinnia - week 17

Zinnia don't like root disturbance so this year I put mine into pots, I hope they are going to thrive there as they don't always perform. I am going to feed them this week and I think that will encourage them. The variety we chose for The Cut Flower Patch Seed Box is a lovely salmon-pink colour and if all goes well we should get some bold, showy blooms.


Cosmos - week 17

The first signs of flowers are showing on my cosmos and am hoping that I will be picking them soon. I pinched them out when the 3 pairs of true leaves had grown which has prevented the main stem from shooting upwards and producing a leggy plant. Cosmos don't require feeding.


Cornflower - week 17

It's been a really good year for cornflower in my cut flower patch. I sowed some in the autumn and then in the spring I sowed the ones from my March Cut Flower Patch Seed Box. I had armfuls and armfuls from the autumn sowing and now the March ones are flowering. I've staked them but they don't need feeding. Pick them when the colour starts to show on the buds. If you pick too early the flowers will not show but if you pick them when they are fully open, they will only last a few days.


Not only have I had lots of cut cornflower for the vase, I've also pressed a fair few and also prepared some for drying.


Cornflowers are good for pressing, they hold their colour, and the shape and form of the leaves add structure and interest to the final framed piece.

~

This is the first time I've had a go at drying flowers, I've spent some time reading up on the process, finding out which flowers are likely to dry most successfully and which drying process works best for which flower. As I have an abundance of cornflowers and am told they make the perfect dried flower, this seems like the perfect place to start.


1. Remove excess moisture

After picking the cornflowers from my cut flower patch I laid them out on kitchen paper to remove as much moisture as possible.


2. Prepare the plant

Using a pair of sharp scissors, I trimmed off the lower leaves, leaving around 12cm of bare stem.


3. Attach twine

I made up small bunches of cornflower and ensuring the flower heads weren't touching, I tied the stems together at the base and . It's important to ensure the twine is fairly tight as the stems will shrink as they dry.


4. Hang the flowers to dry

I've hung the flowers in our cloakroom, which is dark and dry. Keeping the flowers out of sunlight is important as they will bleach. It's also important that there's no damp in the room and there's space for the air to circulate, otherwise the flowers will get damp and they will rot.


Am not sure how long they will take to dry but apparently the base will become brittle first and then the remainder of the flower. Watch this space.


Greater Quaking Grass - week 17

This is the first time I've sown and grown greater quaking grass (aka briza maxima) and it wont be the last. It was super-easy to grow and a really simple addition to my cut flower patch. I've picked some every day for the last two weeks and am going to dry some too once the seed heads have turned from green to brown.


The April Seed Box - Amaranthus, Scabiosa, Campanula, Ranunculus and Anemone


Amaranthus - week 13

Amaranthus progress seems to have been slow. I only recently managed to get 3 plants to the point of being able to plant them out into my patch. They don't flower until late summer so I probably need to be a little more patient. Would be interested to hear how your amaranthus is coming along.





Scabiosa - week 13

My scabiosa looks happy in my cut flower patch. I sowed some scabiosa in the autumn too and they are just about to come into flower and are looking fabulous so am confident that in the a month or so our Cut Flower Patch scabiosa will be ready to pick.












Campanula - week 13

Am a little concerned the campanula is quite slow growing. The seeds took a while to germinate and then I only pricked them out at around week 11. Will keep an eye on them and plant them out as soon as they are looking more robust.






Ranunculus - week 13

Am not 100% sure what happened to my ranunuculs, all was looking good and then came home after a few days away and they had wilted and died. Next year I am going to try and see if I get a better result growing them in a container.




Anemone - week 13


Thankfully my anemones have fared much better than my ranunculuses. I've cut a number of anemones already, they are such a good feature flower, it only takes one or two to transform a bouquet.














The May Seed Box - Statice, Globe Amaranth, Sweet William, Bergamot and Strawflower


Statice - week 9

Out of all the cut flower seeds I've sown in the last 12 months, statice has to be the fastest growing. After just 9 weeks the plants span around 15cm. It's not necessary to feed statice.






Globe Amaranth and Bergamot - week 9

I planted out my globe amaranth and bergamot a week ago. Both look to be at a similar stage. Am hoping a spell of warm weather will help to get them established.










Globe amaranth











Bergamot


Sweet William - week 9

I pricked out my sweet william at around week 5 and planted them out a week ago. They are looking nice and healthy, am optimistic we'll get lots of flowers to

cut later in the season.






Strawflower - week 9

Sadly my strawflower failed to germinate, it's probably too late now but I am going to try and sow another tray and see if I can get a few to come good.


Until next time, happy growing, harvesting and arranging!

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