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COLOURS, FLAVOURS, SCENTS
Pretty much all of the above
If we think of colour first, packets of mixed wild poppies are very easy to grow and
give a great range of colour. Once the petals fall off and the seed heads darken and ripen, they must be kept on the stems until they are ready to split open. Then, put a paper bag over the plant, turn it upside,
and snip off the seed heads at stem base level. Huge numbers of tiny seeds will fall out immediately, and many more will come out as they hang, drying, in the paper bag. Tie the bag closed and hang it someplace
dry and cool.
These seeds can
be scattered widely around any garden, on wasteland in the neighbourhood, in planters on balconies, and given as presents to family and neighbours, in little twirls of coloured paper, tied with ribbon.
Poppy seeds are viable in the soil for over forty years: that is why we see them where ground is turned over for road building; and why they appeared
all over the Western Front during WWI. Poppy seeds can wait for decades for the light to reach them!
be sprinkled on top of tarts, bread, scones, or petit pain, just before baking for flavour and to give an interesting look to your baking.
The seed heads and stems can be turned multi-coloured with acrylic or poster paints, and used for Hallowe'en / Samhain decorations and head-dresses, or part of Christmas wreaths. See my Posts NATURE & DECORATION and CHRISTMAS ARTWORK.
Nasturtiums also come in many bright colours and will grow in pots or will tumble down from a basket or window sill. Unlike the poppy’s tiny seeds, they have large seeds, which even small children can handle and sow and collect when
they become ripe after flowering. They can then be scattered also, or given as presents, as with the poppies.
flowers are lovely and colourful in a salad, and add a slightly peppery taste.
Dianthus flowers (Dianthus spp) are also
called “pinks”. They belong to a family of plants which includes carnations and are characterised by the spicy fragrance the blooms emit. Dianthus plants may be found as hardy annuals, biennials or perennials, are
very good in pots, and lower growing ones can take a fair about of wind battering ... In this family of Dianthus also comes 'Sweet William', with a glorious array of colours.
My Grandpa used to plant his small front garden packed full of 'Sweet William'. I can still picture the glorious colours in my mind’s eye. He also grew fruit and vegetables on
two allotments. My mother and our neighbours were delighted with the array he brought every Friday when visiting. The sound and scent of shelling peas on the step with, my sister, are still vivid.
Pansies come big and blowsy or small and demure – in almost any colour you can imagine – they are less hardy.
Geraniums and pelargoniums are very popular in the Summer months. They have brightly coloured flowers, often have scented leaves, and they
help keep mosquitoes away.
All the water we use for watering pots or trays indoors, which has been taken from
the tap, must be let stand for 48 hours before use, to ensure that it is aerated and that it has reached the ambient temperature. In some places, water from the mains supply has fluoride in it. This has to be let dissipate.
Try to collect as much rain water as possible for watering outdoors and indoors.
GARLIC can be potted up in a large yoghurt pot, using an organic garlic head which
is beginning to sprout. Divide the cloves gently, put a good layer of starch beans or rough gravel in the bottom, add a mix of potting compost and some garden soil. Gently push the cloves into the soil so that only the shoot is sticking up, and
water them in. They like to be planted at the edge of the pots.
One garlic head should fill two large yoghurt pots. Always
plant garlic on its own, and do not put a garlic plant pot anywhere near onions, scallions or chives.
where you live, non-organic garlic may have been treated with irradiation to inhibit sprouting, delay ripening and to increase longevity. Anything irradiated will not sprout or grow. In the USA, irradiated food for sale should carry statements
“Treated with radiation” or “Treated by irradiation” on the food label. Bulk foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are required to be individually labelled or to have a label next to the sale container. The EU
is considerably more restrictive in its approach to the irradiation of food as a bloc. Although countries vary in their permissions, dried herbs and spices, and dried vegetable flavourings, are amongst a limited list of allowed irradiated
Onions and garlic should never be stored anywhere near each other in the kitchen or larder, as they
cause a chemical reaction in each other which makes them sprout and bolt quickly.
Very easy to grow edibles are garlic
and chives, the leaves of both can be snipped as required to add to salads, and chives have very pretty edible mauve flowers; scallions which can be eaten whole from the soil with a rinse, or by snipping the leaves for a stronger flavour
than chives; parsley, basil, and coriander with its aromatic seeds; rocket; borage with its pretty edible blue flowers; will all delight your senses.
Keep removing the flowering heads of BASIL as soon as they appear, and add them to a tomato sauce, soup, or salad, so that it keeps producing fresh leaves. Otherwise, it literally ‘goes
to seed’. Basil comes in many types, some sturdier than others - it would be worth deciding on what space you have, inside or outside, and maybe choose an outdoor and indoor variety. Basil should be let get
to the stage of drooping, before it is watered. It hates sitting in damp soil in a pot or outdoors.
The best way to work out how much and
how often a plant should be watered, would be to check where it comes from originally. Basil comes from hot, dry, Mediterranean countries.
MINT comes in many varieties of scents and flavours. It is best to keep it contained in a large pot or it would take over all available space.
If you choose to have a few different types, please keep them distant from each other.
Soft, fresh, stems of mint with the leaves put in a jug
which is then filled with water and put in the 'fridge, makes a refreshing drink for the summer months.
Generous amounts of chopped
mint mixed into a thick, organic, yoghurt, goes very well with lamb meatballs, fried, roasted, or barbequed.
Tiny orange or yellow tomatoes can
be grown on a window sill or on a balcony. The pop of colour and flavour as you bite into your first ripe home-grown tomato, is never forgotten!
PLEASE do not
use peat moss as part of your soil enhancers. Our peat bogs are still being stripped, and thousands upon thousands of tons of peat moss are exported abroad
for use by domestic gardeners.