Easy annual plants to grow in a kitchen garden include sunflowers, marigolds, cornflowers, wild onions, clover, borage, wild garlic — we’re growing nasturtiums for the first time this spring. Perennial plants are also good but remember not to dig them into the soil after they die back. Try herbs like rosemary, marjoram, oregano, chives (especially chives!), sage (including a cultivated sage like hot-lips). Other good perennials that you might usually grow elsewhere will brighten any kitchen garden- try lavender, geranium, penstemon and scabious.
Dig for water!
This spring, we’re aiming to dig out a bog garden — this follows our success in creating a new pond which you can read about here
Making a bog garden should create a different environment so that we can introduce more diverse plants. These should attract all sorts of wild life and, if we’re lucky, might provide a birth place for dragon-flies, hover-flies and mayflies.
Our plan is to dig out a small, shaded, north-facing portion of our front lawn so that the bog will lie next to our wildflower meadow (read about our efforts to sow a mini meadow here). We will first dig out the turf in the shape of a squashed semi-circle and keep it to one side. Then we’ll dig out the soil to a depth of about 45cm — keeping the soil for later. According to most online guides, the next step is to line the hole with plastic pond-liner but we’re going to try lining it with cast-off wood from last summer’s log cabin project. After that the idea would usually be to pierce the liner in several places — we should have some gaps between our planks and, if not, we’ll drill a few holes.
Finally, we’ll return the soil to the hole and fill it with water from a water-butt, before returning the turf. Hopefully, by then, my birthday will have passed and I’ll have been treated to a good range of bog-garden plants. As a hint to my nearest and dearest, I’ve sent a wishlist of native, wild-life friendly plants from this website.
Produce a Paradise for Pollinators
If you’re wondering about what to with a scraggy patch of garden or a lawn that never greens up to well — think about planting out a whole range of flowering perennials. With careful planning, you’ll get a lovely display of flowers from January to November and feed bees with all the nectar they can carry. This can be expensive if you’re relying on a garden centre for your plants so think about going online and choosing some plug-plants. These are small and much cheaper than potted plants but, if you plant them out carefully in March to April, they’ll be nicely established by autumn.
One way of enhancing your perennial patch is to mark out a walk-way and grow your plants along it. We’ve planted out a lavender-lined pathway through one lawn and, behind the lavender, have introduced rosemary and hot-lips sage along with penstemon, hellebores (for winter colour) and Black-eyed Susan. For an extra treat for the butterflies, we’ve included some sprouts and cabbage plants. There are early signs that there will be plenty of cabbage for us this spring, even though the outer leaves have taken a hammering from the grubs!. When this blooms in the summer, we’ll update you on how it’s going.