The initial garden set up!

The Good Life in Practice and Thompson & Morgan – the initial garden set up!

So I have been lucky enough to get a goodie bag from Thompson and Morgan to try this growing season! Now I have used Thompson and Morgan for the last 5 years and have always had productive crops so it is good to be working with the same company – particularly as they are my local gardening company to Suffolk. This is my first update for this growing season with hopefully some ideas to get you into the garden or allotment.

A selection of the seeds which have been planted in the garden and allotment

A selection of the seeds which have been planted in the garden and allotment

I have started to plant up seeds ready in both the ground and in the greenhouse space. I have potted up Calendula Candyman orange and yellow (marigold) and Nasturiums ‘Firebird’, ‘Princess of India’ and ‘St Clements’ ready for adding to salads and baking. I love using edible flower to add a niche element to meals and to additionally add colour. I quite often bake breads adding nasturtium flowers to bring a spicy element to cheesy bread and to herb bread varieties. What’s more, the Calendula gives a great colour pop to other recipes. This includes the obvious salads and soups. However, I love using the brightly coloured petals to decorate cupcakes and want to have a go at making a natural balm with it this year-watch this space. Again, I have planted some Cornflowers ‘Blue Diadem’ as they not only look beautiful outside or as a cut flower but also add attitude to a dull salad.

Calendula 'Candyman' Orange & Yellow & Sunflower 'Helios Flame'

Calendula ‘Candyman’ Orange & Yellow & Sunflower ‘Helios Flame’

Next I have been potting up all the salad varieties to hopefully make me more self-sufficient this year; rather than having to supplement my garden with brought salad. Think this will save a lot of money and shopping trips! These are the varieties I am trying this year:
Lettuce ‘Ultimate Mixed’
Salad leaves Sorrel ‘Blood Veined’
Salad leaves ‘Bright and Spicy’
Herb Rocket
Wasabi Rocket
So far the Wasabi Rocket is growing on the windowsill – it is growing gradually; although I couldn’t resist trying a bit of a seedling – hot stuff! Can’t wait to use it as something a bit different in Thai salads and to serve with main meals. It will make an exciting addition to a vegetarian lunchbox.

Nasturtium 'Firebird', Princess of India & St. Clements

Nasturtium ‘Firebird’, Princess of India & St. Clements

As well as the edible plants, I also love cut flowers in the house. One that is rustic, sturdy or simple. Therefore I have planted some Sunflower ‘Helios Flame’ to grow gradually so I can harvest the stems later in the growing year to add colour to the house and dinner table.
Lastly, in this session I have planted up a set of Spring Onions ‘White Lisbon’ seed tape. This was so much easier than separate seeds to plant! Also it will hopefully reduce weeds that will grow around the plant and make it easier to flourish. Spring onions add a punch to summer salads – yum!
Next time I will give you an update on my allotment, how things are growing and some tasty, alternative recipes to try at home.

Lettuce 'Ultimate Mixed', Salad Leaves 'Bright & Spicy' & Spring Onion 'White Lisbon'

Lettuce ‘Ultimate Mixed’, Salad Leaves ‘Bright & Spicy’ & Spring Onion ‘White Lisbon’

Katy Runacres, The Good Life In Practice
https://thegoodlifeinpractice.wordpress.com/, Facebook: The Good Life In Practice, Twitter: @thegoodlifein

Katy Runacres
Katy is a smallholder, cook and writer. She keeps Chickens, Bantams, Meat Rabbits and has a resident cat called Podge. She takes an interest in all aspects of homesteading and has written pieces for a number of magazines including Backwoods Home, Bushcraft, Country Smallholding, Home Farmer and Smallholder. Katy is a member of the Essex and Suffolk Poultry Club and has a Diploma in Countryside Management.

Edible Flowers – useful in any garden

Edible flowers can make a useful and delightful addition to any garden – whether big, small and practical or pretty – they can help boost any garden in question. Edible flowers can be used in a variety of ways and grow easily and quickly for a fast harvest.

edible flowers

I decided to use an old tin bath to create my edible flower garden as part of my smallholding in Suffolk. I enjoyed growing mine, as whilst they were growing and before they were picked ready for eating, they add colour and fragrance to my vegetable garden! I believe they make a welcomed addition to any allotment or garden – they attract the helpful bees too.

I received a bunch of edible flower seeds from Thompson and Morgan. The seeds were:
Chives
Viola tricolor – Wild Pansy
Calendula ‘Sherbet Fizz’
Cornflower ‘Blue Diadem’
Oenothera – ‘Lemon Sunset’

The chives have been so useful. I have been using them to add to salads, soups and to replace onion in other recipes – adding to home produced free range scrambled eggs is a favourite in our house!

My pansies were a beautiful purple and yellow colouring and were very delicate.  Pansies have a lettuce and salad like flavour so are perfect to add in small quantities to home-made salads. Additionally, they can be sugared or crystallised to add to a number of sweet dishes such as cakes, desserts or even confectionery.

edible flowers

Calendula ‘Sherbet Fizz’ (Marigold) are the yellow and orange flowers and have a slightly peppery taste to them. I like using them in soups and salads. Additionally, baking with this edible flower can produce tasty breads and biscuits. Note – use in small quantities as can be a diuretic.

edible flowers
Cornflowers have a lovely striking deep blue colour to them and make a delightful addition to an edible flowerbed. They have a clove-like flavour and thus can be used to decorate salads, pasta dishes and eaten with other edible flowers.

Oenothera ‘Lemon Sunset’. Otherwise known as evening primrose; this edible flower has a lettuce; salad flavour to it so is obviously great to add to salads.

When adding to any cooking ensure to wash and rinse them properly, check which parts are okay to eat (i.e. stem, leaves, and petals) and also use in small quantities the first few times you cook with it. I really enjoyed this project making a mini edible garden plot in my smallholding and hope this post has been useful to future edible flower growers!

Katy, The Good Life In Practice

Katy Runacres
Katy is a smallholder, cook and writer. She keeps Chickens, Bantams, Meat Rabbits and has a resident cat called Podge. She takes an interest in all aspects of homesteading and has written pieces for a number of magazines including Backwoods Home, Bushcraft, Country Smallholding, Home Farmer and Smallholder. Katy is a member of the Essex and Suffolk Poultry Club and has a Diploma in Countryside Management.

Chance find becomes Thompson & Morgan’s Flower of the Year for 2013

Nasturtium 'Crimson Emperor' - Flower of the Year 2013

Nasturtium ‘Crimson Emperor’ – Flower of the Year 2013

“It’s amazing what you can find lying around in the nooks and crannies of the seed store!” Alan Sparks of Takii Seed.

A lucky discovery in a back room has been exhibited at RHS Chelsea this year and is Thompson & Morgan’s ‘Flower of the Year’. Stunning Nasturtium ‘Crimson Emperor’ featured in the RHS Chelsea Show garden of acclaimed landscape and garden designer, Thomas Hoblyn, who won a Silver Gilt Medal and the People’s Choice award for his Chelsea garden this year.

Even before ‘Crimson Emperor’ had made its debut at RHS Chelsea, Thompson & Morgan had chosen this extraordinary nasturtium for its Flower of the Year. Its amazing colour and unusual habit are what make it so special. The consistent rich crimson colour that gives this variety its name is rarely seen, whilst the plant’s habit is less trailing and more lax and bushy, making spectacular spreading ground cover.

Nasturtium 'Crimson Emperor' - perfect for ground cover

Nasturtium ‘Crimson Emperor’ – perfect for ground cover

The story behind the development of ‘Crimson Emperor’’ is an interesting one. In about 2003, Alan Sparks, of seed breeders Takii, found an old box of seed selections in a back room. The box belonged to the late Kees Sahin, renowned Dutch seed breeder and plantsman. The selections had been taken from so-called ‘rogues’ from the production fields of a previous nasturtium variety, ‘Scarlet Emperor’. They had been ‘selfcrossed’ in the greenhouse and subsequently forgotten. Alan sowed the seeds and grew 4 or 5 much darker red plants which he then used to carry on with his selection.

He says, “It took a few years for them to regain their vigour and climbing habit, but it was clear from the beginning that the colour was much darker red than the standard varieties.”

Click here to buy Nasturtium ‘Crimson Emperor’

Nasturtium facts

Rebecca Tute
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

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