Growing Medicine for the Mind

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind.”

I love growing flowers on my allotment plot. To me, they look stunning, they attract pollinators and very importantly are they can be used as an environmentally friendly bug barrier!

I’m currently growing perennial flowers such as daffodils, verbena, hydrangeas, lavender and rudbeckia but I also grow a number of annual flowers such nasturtiums, sunflowers, sweet peas and marigolds.

This year I’ve decided to dedicate Plot 5A to flowers. So far, I’ve planted 2 beds of bulbs and they’re already up!

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In 2016 I have to admit that I was very disappointed with the results of ‘direct sown’ seeds – they either didn’t germinate or produced 3 inch high plants 😦 so this year I’ll be starting ALL my flowers off in the greenhouse.  I’ve already started stockpiling a few beauties (these will go straight into the ground)…Any tips on growing dahlias will be gratefully received 🙂 Look at these gorgeous ‘dinner plate’ varieties!

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I’ve managed to gather a few basic planting tips:

  • Don’t rush to plant – dahlias hate cold soil. Wait until all chance of frost is past.
  • Plant in full sun. They need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight to thrive.
  • Protect from the wind.
  • Soil should be rich and well-drained.
  • You can start tubers indoors.
  • Be cautious with watering – tubers rot easily.
  • You can expect flowers within around 8 weeks of planting, starting in mid-July.

Do you have any tips or advice on growing Dahlias?

On my wanders around gardens in the UK, it’s clear that most kitchen gardens combine flowers and veggies.

These two pictures show the Agatha Christie’s kitchen gardens at Greenway House…

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Love the combined planting!

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I’m aiming to create a mini version of this sweet pea and bean (the beans have been cleared) arch (at the National Botanical Gardens of Wales) over the central pathway on Plot 5A…

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Do you grow flowers on your allotment?  How do you ‘mix them up’? What are you most looking forward to growing in 2017?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No Dig. Is it that simple?

My recent injury has left me thinking more seriously about my ‘allotmenteering’ methods.  So far I have stuck to traditional methods and dug my one and a half plots completely by hand, from front to back.  Admittedly, it does take its toll on me physically!

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I dig mainly to control weeds and to restore the soil structure (after trampling) but after several ‘injury months’ away the weeds have already started to grow back!  Very disheartening to say the least 😦

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The raised beds have resisted the weeds much better and are still producing some lovely veggies!

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The Kale is also looking lush…

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Obviously all gardeners dip their toes into the no-dig regime, out of necessity – weeding by hand, shallow hoeing and mulching however there has to be much more to the method!

I may not be able to dig much of the plots this season so  I need some no-dig guidance. I’ve tried searching the web but there’s way too much to sift through!  Can anyone suggest a few no-nonsense sites?  I’d also love a good quality book on the subject…what would you recommend?

 

 

On the mend: One step at a time

At the end of June, I suffered what I thought was a minor garden injury: I fell over the allotment ‘wonky’ path, hurting the side of my foot. It hurt like crazy but I comforted myself with the knowledge that no one had seen me fall!  I limped home, wincing with each step, a 100% sure that it was nothing major.

The next morning my foot was swollen and heavily bruised. I could barely walk. My family tried to persuade me to go to A&E but… ‘no way was I going to waste NHS resources with a bruised foot’ so I plodded on, literally!

Fast forward to the end of September, I was still in a ridiculous amount of pain, my foot had changed shape and I had lost all movement in my toes!  I visited the doctor.  Long story cut short…I had torn the ligaments, chipped bone and fractured my foot!

My foot was placed in a surgical boot (actually 2 boots because I wore one out!)  for 9 weeks.  I’m left with possible nerve damage, post-traumatic arthritis and a programme of physiotherapy 😦

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Apparently…’ Around 300,000 individuals in the UK attended Accident and Emergency departments after having an accident in the garden in 2004. Some 87,000 people were actually injured while gardening.’

Gardening injuries are terribly common, I know. I’ve had plenty of bruises, cuts and aches but this has stopped me in my tracks. No digging. No clearing. No weeding. Nothing.  Luckily, my injury has fitted nicely into the ‘quieter season’ of gardening.  The weather hasn’t been brilliant either, so the whole allotment site has been generally deserted.

I’m itching to get back to my ‘sanctuary’ plots but this gardening season I’m going to have to plan carefully in order to make things easier for myself.  So far, I have a basic 5 point plan…

  1. Have a kneeler or seat nearby for regular rests.
  2. Get all the tools ready before starting a job.
  3. Look out for adapted equipment…more raised beds, tools with longer handles or lighter weight etc
  4. Invest in a cart or barrow.
  5. Consider a tool belt or work apron to carry ‘bits n bobs’ like secateurs or a knife.

Do you have a tips for a injured allotmenteer?  What about you?  Have you ever come a cropper in the garden?