Saturday, 17 April 2010

Experimenting with ornamental veg growing

I've been reading a great book by Joy Larkcom called creative vegetable gardening and have got all inspired to try some of her techniques for creating beautiful vegetable gardens - in France, known as the potager garden. With stacks of concrete still down and still ugly in our yard, anything I can do to make the place more attractive seems like a very good idea!

The effect is something like a cottage garden, with drifts of flowering herbs and lovely effects created with different coloured vegetable foliage - zesty greens (e.g. fennel), rich purples (eg. purple sprouting, mountain spinach) and soft blue greens (e.g. lavendar, leeks). She fills her beds by interplanting and underplanting to the max, creating a lush, abundant look. Everything must, of course, be planted for use value too - so flowering plants chosen carefully for pest repelling or bee attracting effect as well as for their look (nasturtiums and marigolds to deter pests and flowering parsley, fennel or lavender to attract beneficial insects).

So my first experiments are in the carrot bed and involve sowing carrot seed in amongst other flowering plant seeds to confuse the carrot root fly (which has been a real pest in my garden). The idea is that you plant carrot seed in with other flowers that have feathery foliage, so they don't block the sun. You sow in the same way that you'd sow cut and come again lettuce - so either wide or narrow drills or even just a broad scattering.

I've tried all of these sowing methods in my beds to see how they each work and have also sowed straight rows of just carrot to use as a bit of a control to compare against. I've chosen two blue flowered plants (scabious and nigella) and have also planted out some fennel (I love zesty green against a blue). Should look good, so fingers crossed it works!

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