Growing flowers on the allotment

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I like to have flowers on our allotment plot – not only do they look beautiful but they also provide me with cutting material for vases and maybe even more importantly they are loved by bees and other beneficial insects.

We do have some perennial flowering plants but annual flowers suit us better as we can move them around the plot in line with the rotation of our edible plants.

I wanted to plant one area with hardy and half hardy annuals. I wanted to create a wildflower look and chose seeds with this in mind as well as having an eye to potential cut flowers and happy bees. The seeds sown were annual cornflowers blue and mixed, cosmos - Carpet Formula and Sensation, godetia, larkspur, poppy - Angels Choir Mixed, sweet sultan, annual chrysanthemum, heliomeris multiflora, calendula, eschscholzia, candytuft and orlaya.

In the past I have been disappointed with the results achieved when I have sown the seeds direct. Weeds have always seemed to grow stronger and muscle out the plants that I wanted to grow, so this year I decided to do things differently. We’ve used weed control  fabric on the plot to good effect and so I decided to see whether I could use it successfully  for annual flowers.

I decided to sow a sprinkling of each variety of seeds in a small pot and raise them in our cold greenhouse. The seeds were sown on the surface of the compost and covered with vermiculite.

Until they germinated the seeds were left in a cold greenhouse and then transferred to a cold frame.

As seedlings were moved on more seeds were sown until I had four batches of plants at varying stages.

I wasn’t sure exactly how to plant the young plants through the weed control fabric and so decided to try two methods.

The first was to cut slits in the fabrics and plant in rows.

The second batch were planted in cross slits cut randomly in the fabric. As more plants were ready to plant out more slots were cut.

As the plants grew there was no noticeable difference in the look of the two sections both areas were growing well and knitting together. The only difference was that it was easier for weeds to sneak in amongst the plants growing in the long slits.

As the plants grew some of the shorter growing plants were overshadowed and some types of plants that didn’t work as well will be exchanged for others. I think maybe I should incorporate more red but on the whole I’ve been pleased with the effect. The bed has looked attractive for a couple of months now and has stood up well to heavy rain and gales with no support and has also provided plenty of cut flower material.

Below is a short video of the bed taken in August...

Thanks for reading, and watching!

Today's post is a guest post from Sue...

"Martyn, my husband, and I rented our first allotment plot on a semi-derelict site back in the 1980’s. At that time no-one wanted the overgrown plots so we gradually ended up with a large plot made up of five standard allotments where we grow a wide range of fruit and vegetables. We also like to grow flowers for cutting and to share with insects. 

I started my blog, Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments, eight years ago. Originally posts were restricted to plot life but since then it has changed considerably. I now also post about our garden, wildlife, garden related visits and at times non-garden related topics sneak in. One of my other interests is photography and so most weeks I share some of my favourite photos in a Wordless Wednesday post. My husband also authors a blog, A Gardener’s Weather Diary in which besides giving his perspective on our gardening activities, he shares data taken from the weather station set up in our garden."