As, mentioned in the potager food post, for 2022 half the potager is being planted in cutting flowers for the “Growing Kindness” give-away bouquet project. I’m so excited, because it means trying some new crops, experimenting to get the timing correct, seeing which new flower colors combine well with others, and lots of learning opportunities. That’s a lot of what keeps me interested in gardening. To see more information on the cutting flowers I’m growing, visit THIS POST.
First a complete flower crop list was made listing what I intend to grow. This includes focal, vertical, filler, and favorites, and those plants in my existing gardens that are good cutting material. It’s a pretty ambitious list, but there will be numerous small plantings, so don’t picture long rows. This is the year to learn what goes well with what in terms of colors, what grows well here, timing, and if I like to grow it! Plantings will however, be dense to promote long stems and higher flower count per square foot. Varieties that are already in gardens, or can be expected to self-seed (nigella, larkspur, bachelor buttons, “May Queen” shasta, “Blue Bedder” salvia. etc.) were checked off, other than a note on when they bloom. (This is where the bloom journal from past years really came in handy!) The remaining crops got notes on the date each is to be planted, and other pertinent info on growing or harvesting was added. (The Johnny’s catalog is an excellent resource for this step.)
Those that know me, or have read this blog over the years won’t be surprised that at this point a new notebook was created. Some people like spreadsheets and computers; I prefer a hands-on notebook that can go where I go and the pictures jog my memory! There are also sections to note bloom times, lists of filler plants by season, bouquet ideas, seeding times, succession planting notes, and more. Last year’s seed catalogs get cut up as the new issues arrive, and it’s a pleasant way to spend a dreary afternoon.
In determining which crops will be planted in the Cutting Garden, and which will go into the potager one of the main factors was protection. Those crops that are very prone to rabbit or deer damage will go into the potager’s beds. In early spring wild critters are looking for new menu items after a long, dull winter’s fare and seem willing to try about anything that’s newly planted. The first year I tried growing sweet peas, they were planted on the fence between the greenhouse and the Lady Cottage. Almost immediately, they were devoured by rabbits despite the fact they are reputed to be poisonous. Sweet peas will go on the potager’s metal trellises, especially since they go in weeks before our last frost-free date, along with the earliest sunflowers and other crops that need protection.
Flowers that are said to be deer resistant (dusty miller, feverfew, lavenders, marigolds, mountain mint, rudbeckia, scabiosa, statice, snapdragons, yarrow, zinnias, salvias, etc.) go on another list. Many catalogs have a symbol on flowers that are deer resistant (not deer proof, mind you it depends on how hungry they are and how many there are in one’s area) but finding out which flowers the rabbits might avoid is more difficult, and I’m basically relying on my experiences in past years and instinct. Lupines were a rabbit favorite last spring, so this year they go inside the potager. The first zinnias always get nipped off by rabbits (not eaten, just bit off and dropped!) but later ones are not usually bothered. So, I plant out some of the inexpensive seeds early, and save the expensive “Queen Lime” to set out later.
Also in spring our heavy clay soils are very soggy which makes early planting difficult. That’s not a problem with raised beds. Stock, bupleurum, calendula, the earliest snapdragons, Chinese forget-me-nots, annual phlox, Bells of Ireland, Rainbow chrysanthemum, and ranunculus need to be planted very early, so they will go into potager beds. Bupleurum will need several succession plantings, but stock and ranunculus will be finished and out as soon as the weather warms and be replaced with other crops like lemon and cinnamon basils for bouquet filler. Another advantage of the potager beds is the ability to protect young seedlings from late frosts with the plastic-covered berry beds. Anything that is deer resistant and doesn’t need to be planted extra early will go into the Cutting Garden.
Most of the Lisianthus will go into the potager’s beds so that netting support can be provided easily. I loved the lisianthus I grew last year in the Cutting Garden, but it was prone to falling over. I could stake each plant, I suppose, but that sounds like a lot of extra work. Four electric fence posts per bed and some twine run back and forth seems much easier.
The very first sunflowers will go in the center of some of the 6′ potager beds. There will be a wide variety of sunflowers, beginning with white and yellow ones with green centers for late spring and early summer sales, more traditional gold and orange ones for summer, and darker oranges and reds with brown centers for autumn bouquets. The earliest ones are single stem, one-cut-and-done varieties, so as a plant comes out of a potager bed, they will be replaced with tall zinnias or other crops. Some of the varieties are branching and will produce flowers slower but over a longer period. Those will go in the converted berry rows.
Lastly, a few crops like dianthus (even though they are deer and rabbit resistant) may be wintered over to produce flowers next year, and that will definitely be more successful in well-drained raised beds rather than out in the open, clay soil.
For a full list of the plants intended for the 2022 “Growing Kindness” project here at Herbal Blessings, visit this post.