June what a month it is, weather topsy turvey however I am not surprised because for the last 12 years planting out the courgettes in the kitchen garden at The Battlesteads in the first week of June always results in 2 weeks of stormy squally showers and winds, so really the weather we have just had is of no surprise!
June brings long days, planting out the half hardy annuals, second and third sowings of annuals, weeding and whilst doing all of this on my mind is planning flowers for next spring.
Early June is the optimum time to sow biennials, these are the plants that require a growing season then winter before ramping it up and the following spring jump into action and put on a jolly good show and provide me with lots of colour and choice at a time of year when the perennials are still unfurling their foliage.
As I look at seed sowing as an enjoyable task this is always delegated to the end of each day for an hour or two, I do all the hard gardening tasks such as planting, weeding, digging and bed preparation throughout the day and reward myself with a peaceful time mixing my seed sowing compost and preparing trays and modules and looking forward to the riot of colour these tiny seeds will bring me.
I’ll sow, water and leave on the floating shelves in the polytunnel, not forgetting to water them of course! In a few weeks pricking out begins of the ones I sow in half trays, the ones I sow in modules I can leave until it’s time to plant out, I’ll write a blog later on methods of seed sowing in trays, modules and direct methods.
By the middle of June certainly no later than the 18th I will have sown all the biennials I want and always a bit more too as I have always worked on the premise that is it better to have too many and some leftovers than not enough….what happens to the left overs? I sell them at the farm gate or give away to fellow gardeners, I sow perennials this time too, by autumn these are ready to plant out and gather apace over winter ready to give me their best the following year.
What biennials am I sowing you ask? Naturally Digitalis – Foxgloves are always top of the list, in cream, peach and white, Campanulas – Canterbury Bells, Dianthus Sooty and Alba these are 2 of my favourites the Sooty is in its glory when my amazing Calla ‘Fire Glow’ a dark brandy apricot orange calla and as you will see in future posts I love growing dark colours. Other I have sowed are Matthiola incana a perennial white stock but does better as a biennial, these seeds always come fresh from my mum’s own garden, she is a great seed collector and this year I have booked her to come and stay and teach me everything she knows about collecting and storing seed.
I have also sown a selection of Papaver Nudicale varieties, Lunaria – Honesty in white and violet and Hesperis – Sweet Rocket, all of these are staples in any cutting garden or flower farm.
Once the sowing is finished in between planting annuals and all things flower farming I focus on preparing the beds for my biennials, I don’t leave doing this too late in fact sooner the better. I use my tulip beds, I allow the tulip stems to die back, top dress with manure and a fresh layer of top soil and end of July I can start planting in these biennial seedlings and that’s a task complete and I can look forward to autumn.