Although the temperatures here are a bit lightweight compared to say Scandinavia, what I call The Big Freeze carries on.
I’m not complaining, it all looks rather lovely out there. Though I’m itching to get some shrubs planted, but the soil is frozen so I’m content to be inside drinking hot chocolate, & planning what to grow next year.
It’ll be weeks before seeds are sown outside here, but it’ll be when lots of other things need doing in the garden, so planning now makes life easier.
Just a reminder that annuals are plants that grow, flower, set seed & die all within a year & there are 2 types
Hardy annuals (H.A.)
Half-hardy annuals (H.H.A.)
This is all about how to grow hardy annuals.
Hardy annuals will put up with a light frost, unlike half hardy annuals.
You may be wondering why you should bother with plants that only last a year, well…. there are lots of good reasons:
- They are very cheap, a packet of seeds can produce hundreds of plants.
- Doing all their growing puts them on a tight schedule, so they grow quickly.
- You decide what you’d like in your garden, rather than the local garden centre that can only sell a limited range of plants.
- There are plants that never appear in garden centres, so you can have plants that are a bit unusual.
- They’re cheap enough to let you experiment with colours, shapes etc.
- They are a brilliant way of getting children interested in gardening, because there’s something magical about growing a plant from seed & you won’t have to wait too long for results.
- Most are very colourful, as a way of attracting pollinators
Here in the South East of England, I sow them directly into the ground at the end of March , but sowing may have to happen later if you live further north.
The soil is warm enough to sow outside when small weed seedlings appear around the garden.
Prepare the soil, by raking it over to reduce lumps, making the soil fine & crumbly.
Make a shallow groove in the soil & sow the seeds in straight lines so you can distinguish them from weeds. Make several short rows at different angles to stop the plants looking regimented.
Water the planting grooves & wait a moment for the water to sink in.
Follow the instructions on the seed packet about how deep to sow them, it varies depending on the size of the seeds.
Gently rake soil back over the seedlings, & stick a label at one end & a stick at the other to indicate where the row is until they start to grow.
Water in dry weather, morning or evening is best.
The seedlings need thinning out once they’re through, to allow enough room for the plants to grow. Check the seed packet for plant spacing. Harden your heart & pull out the weakest ones.
Ammi visnaga makes a great cut flower.
Dill is invaluable because of its’ wonderful colour that goes so well with other flowers, & you can eat it.
I also sow annual seeds in pots in the greenhouse a few weeks earlier to have plants that flower earlier & as back-up against slug damage.
Although they look lovely, flowers packed with petals are difficult for insects to get into, so choose some with a simple daisy-like shape to make access easy.
Find out more about sowing seeds, what containers to use etc here.
I’ll write about half-hardy annuals next time.
All photos: Jill Anderson