The idea of growing your own vegetables and herbs has seen a huge surge in interest over the last decade or so. Allotment waiting lists have lengthened, and there are scores of ‘how to’ books for gardeners with limited time and space for cultivating their very own self-sufficient paradise. Alongside this passion for growing food many people are also planting flowers for cutting, choosing traditional favourites such as cornflowers, dahlias and richly scented sweet peas, flowers that are rarely found in the florist’s shop.
If you dream of cutting bunches of flowers from your own garden, but don’t have a lot of time, space or money to devote to it, then the Jam Jar Cut Flower Garden is for you. Over the weeks, we will design, sow and plant a small cut flower patch. Big enough to allow you to cut at least one bunch of flowers for a small vase (or jam jar) all summer long. Using easy to grow flowers, I will show you how to get that cutting garden of your dreams.
Let’s get started…
First, find your space
It might be an existing border that’s ready for a revamp, or a patch of lawn you can dig up. There are just a few important things to consider when you are choosing a spot for your cut flower patch. Get these right at the start and you will have the perfect conditions for maximum flower production.
We’re going to be concentrating on growing annuals in the cut flower patch this year. These are fast growing, easy to look after and produce lots and lots of flowers. To do this they need plenty of sun, shelter from the wind and well-drained, fertile soil. Your cutting garden may be a patch of bare soil at the start of spring, but in a few weeks it will become a beautiful feature – full of flowers and buzzing with bees and butterflies. Find it the best possible spot in the garden.
Mark out the space (ideally at least 1m x 2m), remove the turf if necessary, dig out and remove all the weeds (a boring chore, but really worth the effort). Then stand back and admire the beginnings of your new cutting garden.
Preparing the soil
Before you even think about sowing seed or planting plants, take a quick look at your soil. Getting the soil right is so important. If the soil conditions are as near perfect as possible, you plants will be healthy, grow more sturdily, and be less likely to succumb to pests or diseases.
Take a small handful of soil and squeeze it. As you open your hand watch what happens. If the handful of soil stays in a ball, you have clay, if it crumbles straight away, it’s sandy. If you get something in between – gently crumbling and sitting on your palm, you have lovely loamy soil. This is good, be happy. That said, a clay or sandy soil isn’t the end of the world… just the start of some extra preparation work.
Adding some organic matter – homemade compost, really well rotted manure, or a bag or two of bought in peat-free compost, is a good idea whatever type of soil you have. Throwing in a handful or two of organic pelleted chicken manure too will help ensure your plants will have all the nutrients they need. If you’ve discovered you have clay soil, add some extra grit to help open up the soil structure and aid drainage. For a sandy soil, lots of compost is a must.
Once the soil is prepared, that really is the bulk of the hard work done. Next step is choosing what to grow (the fun part!), and ordering seeds and plants. We’ll talk about this in the next post… coming very soon.