Over the weekend, I have been busy sowing and planting flowers in our veggie garden. Yesterday, I planted a dozen punnets of petunias which I purchased from Kings Plant Barn into some large hanging baskets. I do have some petunia seed which I will sow on my heat pad soon (“Super Colour Parade” from Yates) but have struggled to grow them from seed in the past, hence having purchased plants as a contingency. Today, I sowed an assortment of seeds given to me by Egmont Seeds last year. All of these are completely new to me so I was a little nervous about sowing them, but I just followed the instructions on the back of the packets.
The seeds I sowed were:
· Candytuft “Fire Ice”
· Carthamus “Grenade Orange”
· Dianthus “Jolt Cherry F1”
· Godetia “Satin Mix F1”
· Lavender “Bandera Pink”
· Linum “Blue Dress”
· Lupin “Israeli Blue Admiral”
· Nigella “African Bride”
· Talinum “Limon”
Today, I also planted three punnets of “Ballerina” poppies as a border around our greens garden, which contains Silverbeet, spinach, kale and rocket. Over the coming weeks, I will be putting in many more flowers, including calendula, cornflowers, marigolds, bedding dahlias, zinnias, rudbeckia, tithonia and sunflowers. Every year, I sow the zinnia varieties “Gold Medal” and “Lilliput” from Yates Seeds, which look beautiful and flower for many months. I’m also looking forward to sowing the marigold “Safari Mixture” from Yates again, having grown this successfully in the past. We also have a number of lillies, gladioli and tuberous dahlias which remain in the ground and come up by themselves year after year. Some of these have already started to surface.
When I walked around the garden today, I noticed that the wildflowers and cosmos (“Lemonade” from Egmont Seeds) I sowed just over a week ago have already started to germinate, as have my “Potted Fragrance Semi Dwarf” sweet pea seeds from Yates which were sown around an obelisk.
Here are some reasons why I think gardeners should grow some flowers amongst their veggies:
· Flowers can be a useful companion plant. An example is marigolds, which are said to repel pests
· Flowers attract bees to the garden, providing them with food. In turn, the bees help to pollinate fruiting veggies, including strawberries, beans, zucchini and pumpkins
· Flowers attract butterflies to the garden. Every summer I love growing zinnias, which monarchs adore. I’m trying “Tithonia Goldfinger” from Kings Seeds this season, which butterflies also apparently love
· Flowers add colour to an otherwise very green space
· Flowers can also add height to the garden
· There is nothing nicer than an assortment of flowers fresh from the garden in a vase on the table (except maybe a plate of veggies harvested from your garden)
· Some flowers are edible and can be added to salads, such as nasturtium and viola
· If your garden is mostly infront of your house like ours, flowers distract from the fact you’re growing veggies in your front yard. While luckily this isn’t illegal in NZ (unlike some parts of the US), it might be perceived as a little strange
· Some flowers will self-seed ie show up in your garden year after year, without having to re-sow them. Examples include poppies, calendula and even sunflowers. The picture I have included with this post is of a self-sown sunflower which is currently in bloom right now!