September is the perfect time to start sowing seeds if you fancy having a cutting garden like this next year.
These plants in the walled garden at Port Eliot were all grown from seed by Ben of Higgledy Garden.
Ben has a few half-hardy flowers in this border, but to keep it really easy stick to hardy annuals for September sowing, they’re much tougher than their cousins the half-hardies, who are too tender to survive the rigours of winter outside, they’re better planted next May.
September is a good time to start sowing hardy annual seeds, the soil is warm and there’s still enough daylight, all they need is water and they’ll start to grow. There won’t be a lot of plant, but they’ll be growing a strong root system, develop into stocky, little plants that’ll bide their time over winter and flower next year.
Half hardy seeds can also be sown next May, by which time your September sown plants will be well ahead, and you’ll have a really long flowering period from both sets of plants.
Last year I sowed mine in little pots of damp, multi-purpose and kept them in the cold frame over winter. They had the protection of a more consistent temperature, and I remembered to open the lid when it was mild and water them occasionally.
There’s a little preparation to do before sowing them in the ground:
- choose a sunny spot,
- rake the soil, removing stones
- break-up clumps of soil with the back of the rake
- make a shallow, very straight line in the soil, the tip of a trowel handle or stout cane is useful for this
- water it well and let the water sink in a bit
- stick a name label at one end and a stick at the other-so you can see where the row ends
- check the seed packet to see how deep in the soil the seeds should be
- sprinkle the seeds in as sparsely as possible and cover with soil that doesn’t have any lumps in it – the seeds need encouragement to push through the soil- patting it firmly into place
- keep an eye on them and water them in dry weather, though this won’t be necessary during winter
- thin them out by removing small, weaker seedlings so the healthy ones have plenty of room to develop.
The other good things about having your own cut flower garden are there are absolutely no air-miles, you grow exactly what you like and they are a bargain, Ben reckons that the seeds for that whole border cost about £40.
Plant some tulip bulbs at the front of the border in late autumn and you’ll have a splendid selection of flowers from about March through to the autumn.
You can buy seeds from Mr Higgledy here.
all photos: Jill Anderson.