Ok…the plan here is to demonstrate ways to sow and grow the ‘Higgledy Garden Cut Flower Seed Collection’. I will be using my 10 m by 10 m allotment plot. This is probably a much larger space than most folk will have available for a cut flower patch in their gardens but obviously it’s just a case of scaling things to fit.
I’m confident that I can fill this space with lashings of wonderful flowers and we will monitor just how many bunches we can get out.
I will try out a few different methods from direct sowing to sowing undercover and planting out through weed suppressing fabric to scatter sowing in blocks.
To make the best out of the collection you will need some undercover space, either a greenhouse, coldframe, windowsill (not ideal) or cheap and cheerful plastic mini greenhouse.
It’s important to remember you only need this space for six weeks. From the beginning of April until mid May when the frosts will have wobbled off up north.
There are always lots of deals on these plastic jobs…the one I chose cost only £19.95.
Personally I use a mixture of hand crafted (!) paper pots and plastic modular trays. I use modules that number 15 to a seed tray. Bear in mind that a good rule of thumb for most cut flowers is that you will get nine plants to a square metre.
The above modules are trays that sit in gravel trays NOT seed trays…seed trays have holes…gravel trays don’t…I have opted for gravel trays because there may be times when I wake up with strange and beautiful women in far away places and decided it fit and proper to hang around for a few days and therefore not be able to water the seedlings. The gravel trays can keep a little water in to water the seeds from underneath whilst I am wooing.
It’s worth pointing out at this stage that I didn’t standardise the collection this year…perhaps this was a mistake…so some of the things I grow may differ from yours…but the main principles apply to just about all of the seeds.
I have got the ball rolling by sowing some sunflowers (in paper pots), Dahlias, Didiscus, Cornflowers, Calendula, Zinnia and some others that I made a mental note of and of course have forgotten. *Mental note to myself: Real notes are better.
Some seeds I much prefer to direct sow. This bed is roughly a metre wide by eight metres long. Sowing about a foot apart (I love mixing imperial and metric) I will get three rows…easy to get to from both sides. In the Higgledy garden I made much bigger beds and regret this somewhat now as I have to tread on the beds when I’m harvesting…which is a bad practice. *Naughty Benjamin
Top tips for direct sowing…
- Make sure the bed is COMPLETLY weed free.
- Use some string to give you a straight line.
- Make a shallow drill using a stick or the non business end of a rake.
- Water this drill BEFORE you sow not after. This stops the seeds from being washed out of position.
- Don’t bury your seeds too deep. Most just need a very light covering
- Label your rows with the flower name and the date.
Come the end of August we will do some Autumn sowings…these Cornflowers have self sown from last year…I am loath to dig them up…so will leave them be. They will demonstrate how early we can have flowers if we employ an Autumn sowing campaign.
In the bed below I have scattered my Nigella seeds. The block goes as far as that piece of wood that crosses the bed. It is actually only about a third of the bed…the wide angle makes it look bigger.
Again you MUST make sure the bed is weed free. You also need to know what Nigella seedlings look like so you don’t weed them out later on.
If you have any questions you wish to ask the Higgledy Garden Panel then fire away in the comments box below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
Remember you still have plenty of time to sow seeds, we will be sowing until the End of May…though most will be in by Mid May.
So if you haven’t got any seeds yet you should trot along to the Higgledy garden Shop and get yerself a slice of paradise baby!
April 3, 2012 @ 12:22 am
This looks thrilling-can’t wait to start sowing, but have just seen the weather forecast for the next few days-sleet and snow!! Will start the modules in the polytunnel first, then wait for the next lot of sunshine.
April 3, 2012 @ 7:07 am
Good idea…it’s great to see stuff popping up in the modules. #hope :)
April 2, 2012 @ 2:22 pm
Have you sown Zinnia in modules, I didn’t think think they liked the root disturbance, nor the cold to be sown outside?
April 2, 2012 @ 5:26 pm
Either sow Zinnia in mid May directly in the ground or sow them in modules fairly late…say mid April…this way their root system is not so developed in the modules to be annoyed with you when you plant out. Water the modules an hour before you sow them…this makes the compost more cloggy (?) and is more likely to hold together. We do both direct sowing and module sowing. Talk to them nicely using your best Mexican accent…this helps them feel at home.
April 2, 2012 @ 6:30 pm
Gracias Higgeldy Ben :-))
April 3, 2012 @ 7:05 am
April 2, 2012 @ 11:58 am
Seeds having arrived I thought I’d pop back to investigate whether I’d find planting guidance or not …… thank you Ben, this is exactly what I was looking for, you are a STAR!
Popping across to a browser now to find the ‘Let’s Grow’ mini greenhouse. My only concern, having experienced this over the years, is that here on the moorland the winds tend to batter the plastic greenhouses something awful – do you stake yours into the ground?
April 2, 2012 @ 1:47 pm
They come with pretty flimsy pegs…you could pick up something more stout from a camping shop…I got that one because it is quite low slung…you could also bury the sides a few inches down with a little effort. Be warned that my local Garden centre ‘country gardens’ gave me that £19.95 deal which is half price…you may not find the same deal…defo worth shopping around as almost every gc I have been to has big reductions on at least one. That one I got is great because it also will act as a giant cloche for somethings that don’t grow too tall like Godetia…after I’ve finished germinating seeds…
April 2, 2012 @ 11:36 am
Fab Ben, will now start to Dow again to make up for the ones that the slugs got!
April 2, 2012 @ 1:47 pm
Pesky wildlife!!! grrrrrr
April 2, 2012 @ 8:18 am
Fantastic just what I have been looking for, information from someone who walks the walk.
April 2, 2012 @ 9:39 am
Thank you Barney…we do indeed ‘walk the walk’ though sometimes it’s more of a shuffle foxtrot combo. :)
One of the main premises we have at HG is to grow EVERYTHING we sell…and share our experiences ‘warts and all’.