Copyright: mab0440 / 123RF Stock Photo
COLOURS, FLAVOURS, SCENTS
Pretty much all of the above is 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 darkens and ripen,
they must be kept on the stems until they are ready to split open. Then, put a paper bag over the pot, turn it upside, and snip off the seed heads at stem base level. Huge numbers of tiny seeds shall 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.
The seed heads and stems can be turned multi-coloured with acrylic paints, and used
for Hallowe'en / Samhain decorations and head-dresses, or part of Christmas wreaths.
Nasturtiums also come in many 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 sow and collect when they become ripe after flowering. They can then be scattered also, or given as presents, as with
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, is 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 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.
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 polystyrene beans 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. 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, as they cause a chemical reaction
in each other which makes them sprout and bolt quickly.
Very easy to grow edibles are garlic; chives, which you can snip as required, and which 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, 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.
AND HEALTH BENEFITS
ROCKET plants seed themselves in gravel and so are
very hardy. It grows very fast. A few fresh leaves in an ordinary salad lifts it to a level of very lively. The leaves are very rich in Folic Acid. As the leaves get older
they are excellent when chopped, and added to a soup, pizza, or a casserole. The seeds add an unmistakably peppery flavour to dressings, soups, sprinkled on bread before baking. Rocket is very rich in Vitamin K (which has a potential role in bone health by promoting bone formation and strengthening).
BORAGE is rich in Omega 6 (vital in joint health, immunity and skin
care). It's also rich in Vitamin A (140% of RDA), Vitamin B3 (particularly rich in niacin. Niacin helps lower LDL cholesterol levels in the
body). Vitamin C ( it has an immune booster, wound healing and anti-viral effects). It contains a high level of iron (41% of RDA) which a component of heamoglobin
in the red blood cells: iron determines the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
GARLIC people who eat fresh garlic are two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. This is because it contains allicin, which fights infection, and is responsible for the anti-inflammatory activity of this plant.
PARSLEY is rich in folic acid and has further health benefits listed below. Because of the currently particulary low soil temperatures in Europe, and elsewhere, due to over-sodden soil and late freezing, there is still time to sow seeds outdoors. Our family tradition is to drill three rows in the garden on Saint Patrick's Day, and having soaked the seed in hot water, and poured a full kettle of boiling water into each of the drills
just before adding the seed, and covering over the soil, and we are almost always successful. If you are sowing in the soil or in a pot, it is always best to soak the parsley seed in hot water for some time in advance
help reduce the danger of a variety of cancers; have anti-arthritic properties and powerful anti-inflammatory benefits; Bastyr University has listed parsley as one of its recommended herbs for remedying urinary tract infections as an antibiotics alternative; apigenin and myristicin (found in parsley) boost the productivity of one of our liver’s enzymes which detoxifies our bodies. A routine garnish of parsley
will help defend against cardiovascular issues like stroke, coronary attack, and atherosclerosis.
Please see my Posts, STUDENT!
HELP'S HERE, and TEACHERS' NOTES, which give further details of the health and nutritional benefits of herbs which we can grow.
Children, youngsters, and all of us can become very distanced from the knowledge of where
our food is sourced and produced. I believe it's important for us all to recognise the time and effort put in by farmers of all kinds; by bakers of breads and cakes; preservers of chutneys, jams and marmalades; curers of salmon, beef, sausages,
rashers of bacon; and all those whose work with food and contribute to the not so simple pleasures in our lives.
The respect we teach our children to have in the herbs, fruit or vegetables they grow to share with the family and friends, gives a them an understanding of and regard for everyone who works to make good quality food.
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 tomatoes, is never forgotten!
photographs of each stage of each person’s progress, from the choice of seed packet, or seed head, or cutting; to painting tubs, tray, and pots, and any useful containers; to the plants thriving in the ground, in pots or planters on the balcony,
or on window sills. Make a point of dating the photographs of the first appearance of each shoot, with the names of the plants prominent in each picture. Every family might like a scrapbook of their
work from the empty container to the flowering bounty. This can be a real scrapbook, or a folder on a laptop or phone scrapbook.
Children's drawings of their herbs or fruit flower heads, or choosing a very few to dry
flat on tissue paper under the weight of never moved heavy books or in a flower press, offers additional experiences for children and young people to engage with Nature, in noticing petals, stigma, anther, sepal,
Go to https://www.proflowers.com/blog/flower-anatomy for a clear diagram
of the parts of a flower head and all its parts.
enthusiasm, and a sense of adventure will make even the boring jobs, like washing pots, brushes or sponges, an acceptable part of the whole Project.
Doing these jobs together makes them more enjoyable, and many interesting questions arise as you chat about how
you imagine your Nature’s bounty shall be in reality!