The best thing about Autumn sowing is that it makes you feel ahead of the game…and just a little bit smug with it. Today I have been sowing my ‘Seeds To Sow In Autumn Collection‘.
As an experiment I am sowing half the collection now…and I shall sow the other half on the equinox of the 21st, in three weeks time and see how they both fair.
The photo above only shows half of the bed…the full length is about 25 feet….the autumn seed collection will EASILY fill this space. 25 feet x 7 feet. (Roughly 2 meters x 8 meters)
I used an old scaffolding board to mark out my rows….which are a foot apart. Please note my cut flower beds are usually all three foot wide…with three rows going down the full length of the bed. This bed is seven foot wide and so I have chosen to run the rows across the bed….let it never be said I am stuck in my ways. I have also kept these rows as single varieties…usually I mix my rows to create a meadow style cutting patch….this autumn I seem to have come over all German…
These Autumn sown seeds should flower a month earlier than spring sown ones and also be much stronger and bigger plants that will provide more blooms….they will however ‘go over’ before the spring sown chaps have quite run out of steam.
I shall post updates on how the bed is getting along through the autumn….I know….you must be on the edge of your seats…
Rudbeckia ‘Irish Eyes’ are not widely grown…most folk go for ‘Marmalade’ (which is understandable as ‘Marmalade’ rocks out for the free world)…but I always have some space for ‘Irish Eyes’…it’s doesn’t produce quite as many blooms as ‘Marmalade’ but they have wonderful pale green centers (Hence ‘Irish Eyes’)….they are like the quieter…more sophisticated cousin…
How To Grow Rudbeckia For Cutting:
*Rudbeckia sowing at Higgledy takes place in early April. Being half hardy the seedlings can’t go near a frost.
*I always sow my Rudbeckia undercover…in a coldframe…on a windowsill…in a greenhouse…or all three. They can also be direct sown after the frosts…but it’s something I have never tried.
*It makes life much easier if you sow in pots rather than seed trays…I prefer three inch square pots…I sow a few seeds into each pot and then discard all but one seedling.
*Only cover the seeds super lightly with your compost…or use a sprinkling of vermiculite if you are organised enough to have some.
*Nearly always you/I will sow too many seeds…they are tiny and the urge to sprinkle too heavily is irresistible…but you must thin these out to one seedling per pot.
Try growing and showing ‘Irish Eyes’ with Dill ‘Mammoth’ (For some height interest)…and something citrus green to compliment the heat of the yellow/orange…Bupleurum would be good…or Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’…also use Blue flowers as an opposite…for some contrast…’Blue Ball’ cornflowers will rock with Rudbeckia…
I was reticent to give Borage any space in my cutting garden..I knew what a beastly and troublesome cad he can become if left to self seed. However…we got to know each other and have become good friends. The bright blue, star shaped flowers seem to attract bees from all over the northern hemisphere to my plot down here in soggy Cornwall and in the vase Borage not only adds great colour and form but also gives a good base through which you can thread, poke and winkle your other flower stems into.
Growing Borage From Seed.
..frankly it’s very difficult not to grow Borage if you have some seeds…they are probably the easiest seeds to grow that I stock in the shop. Just cover them lightly with soil and give them a water…let them get on with it….space plants to about a foot apart.
Sow seeds in either early September or April….Borage is a hardy annual and laughs in the face of frost. Sow in pots if that is your fancy…
Back in the days of old…it was the Christian crusaders who brought Borage back from Syria after they had finished fighting the native people over who had the best invisible friend….they would steep their wine in Borage before battle, believing it gave them courage. (In fact the word Borage is probably a derivative of courage)
Young Borage leaves are edible and can be treated like spinach…the flowers are also edible…you may have seen that middle class folk can’t help but throw Borage at glasses of Pimms…this is hard wired into their brains…it comes from generations of training and breeding.
If you don’t want your Borage all over the garden, it’s best to cut down the plants before they set seed…they compost down very well…and I imagine they are packed full of nitrogen as they have long tap roots…..but I may have made that up in my head.
Cosmos ‘Sensation’ is well know for producing mountains of flowers of wonderful, soft, ferny foliage. Flowers go from a ‘Purity’ style white…through to pinks and carmine. The stems are strong and long….perfect for cutting. Cosmos will also keep producing flowers as you harvest…a total darling in the cutting patch.
Cosmos is half hardy and therefore will get in a right flap if she gets anywhere near a frost…so…either sow outside after the frosts have gone northward or sow in pots from early April on a windowsill or in a greenhouse. Most seed suppliers will suggest you can sow throughout March…but the truth is this is usually unsatisfactory as plants just won’t get enough light…they will stretch and become ‘leggy’….and we don’t like this (not in plants anyway)…even if they survive..they will not flower any earlier than ones sown in April.
I sow in three inch square pots….in mid May I harden the plants off and then plant them where I want them leaving about a foot of space between plants.
Cosmos generally flower from July….this year they didn’t really get going in my cutting patch until August…and even then…they weren’t as good as they could have been….it’s been a funny old year for annuals.
Cosmos plants will easily get to 120 cm…and often much more…in a good year I’ve had them to 6 ft…..hummm…what’s that? ….185 cm or thereabouts? Make sure they get a position that gets heaps of sunshine. (insert gag about British weather)
One thing to bear in mind is that Cosmos don’t like a soil that has been enriched with manure…if this is the case they will produce squat plants…with thick stems and lots of greenery….but fewer flowers. Think ‘soil structure’ rather than food…so by all means dig in some organic material…home made compost is good…this will help drainage but still retain moisture.
After Halloween I let my Cosmos go to seed and stop harvesting any flowers….Goldfinches get all gooey eyed over the seeds…and it’s a joy to have them in the garden. On the subject of wildlife…you will also attract bees and butterflies with your Cosmos.