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COLOURS, FLAVOURS, SCENTS
all of the above are possible.
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!
They can 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.
Nasturtium 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.
Depending 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 food substances.
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 them 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.