I’ve been growing flowers for cutting for some time now. Mainly because they feed the bees, but being able to pick a fresh bunch of flowers every week is an added bonus. It really doesn’t take much (enjoyable) work to create a cutting patch that looks great and produces enough flowers to fill a jam jar or small vase right through summer and into the autumn. Even if you’ve never grown flowers before, you too can have your very own cut flower garden. I’m going to be posting regular seasonal updates on what to grow, how to grow them and how to get the longest vase life from your flowers here on the blog.
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 could be for you. Over the weeks, we’ll design, sow and plant a small cut flower patch. Using easy to grow flowers, I’ll 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 want to turn into a flowery paradise. There are just a few important things to consider when you are choosing a space for your cut flower patch. Get these right at the start and you’ll have the perfect conditions for maximum flower production.
We’re going to be concentrating on growing annuals this year. These are fast growing, easy to look after and produce lots and lots of flowers. But 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). If you’re converting lawn into a border, you can remove the turf and stack it in an unused corner of the garden to rot down, leaving the ground ready to plant. A less labour-intensive approach, which is also kinder to the soil, is to cover the area with a layer of cardboard, wet this and then pile a good thick layer (12-15cm/5-6”) of compost on top. If you already have a border to work with, you might need to do some weeding (a boring chore, but really worth the effort) to get the ground ready.
Prepare the soil
Before you even think about sowing seed or planting plants, take a quick look at your soil. Getting the soil right is 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 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 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 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.