Monday, 2 May 2016

Potager update, planting time


So here we are, May Bank Holiday weekend, and for the first time in many weeks there is no frost forecast, with night time temperatures expected to be five degrees Celsius and above.For me, this means I can finally plant out some of the young seedlings I've been hardening off over the past week or so, diligently taking them in at night and putting them out during daytime hours. 

As I mentioned recently, I'm changing this 'production garden' area into a 'Potager', which is essentially the same thing with the addition of plants with edible flowers and herbs, to add a certain amount of beauty and interest for viewers.


First steps first though. I dug over the soil in one of the beds to the depth of my digging forks, removing any weeds or litter that was coming to the fore. This particular area is one I was using as a 'no dig' bed for the past three to four years, so there is plenty of good growing medium layered over what is some heavy clay soil.
I didn't want to dig too deep and start pulling up this soil, as it wouldn't serve well for what I want to do. 





Once the area was dug over, it was time to start the fun of planting. The first to go in were some of my Hemerocallis plants, named varieties that have been in pots for three years, and it is time to give them more freedom. Although each flower only lasts a day, the plants have colour for at least two months during summer, and their blooms are very edible. I'm quite partial to the light coloured unnamed seedling which has a slight perfumed flavour.

Delicious.
"I have to confess not many [mange tout] pods made it back to the kitchen table, as they were eaten fresh off the plant ... Lol!"

Next to go in was some of the chive plants I propagated last year. These will flower soon and be useful for regular picking for salads. The flowers are a beautiful lavender colour and are prolific in May and into June. Beside them I planted some Calendula, or English marigolds, which will flower all summer and well into autumn. To finish this grouping, I added red flowering clover. All of these will be excellent for attracting insects into the garden as well as providing a nice touch of colour. 

Next to go in were to rows of plants I'll be using to harvest salad leaves, rocket and beetroot. Of course the beetroot will also produce some fresh beets, which will be thoroughly enjoyed in Autumn time. On the far side of the Hemerocallis I hammered in two stout posts, in between which I planted mange tout peas, a lovely variety called 'Shiraz'. 
I grew a few plants of these last year, and I have to confess not many pods made it back to the kitchen table, as they were eaten fresh off the plant ... Lol! To support this year's crop, I recycled some of the old canes pruned from last year's raspberry plants and arranged them in a lattice framework, which will be supplemented with twine run between the two posts.
As I had a small number of beetroot seedlings left, I put in another row at the edge, just for good measure. 


Finally, I planted a row of Borage, which provides beautiful blue edible flowers in summer, and will also look very nice in this bed too. It will be important to remove spent flower stems as these guys can seed themselves too well in surrounding areas. Fertiliser wise, all the plants were planted using the organic 'Fish, blood and bonemeal', and for additional supplements, I'll use pelleted chicken manure later on in the summer. Until then, I'll keep an eye out for cold weather returning, laying out fleece when I need to, and of course set up some slug traps to try and hinder any potential damage.

Happy gardening.