Jacob is already planning his summer garden and has chosen some annual plants that will grow into colourful flowerbeds in as little as 12 weeks. The seeds were cheap to buy too, costing more or less the price of a single shrub!
Browsing the Kings.com seed packets Jacob found that annual flowers come in every colour of the rainbow. They also come in all shapes and sizes, so there’s plenty of scope to be creative
Jacob is going to use his plants to fill gaps in mummy and daddy’s borders and plant some big containers. He wants to try growing a giant sunflowers and also some sweet peas for his mum to put in a vase.
To create a glorious summer border in a big pot, he is going to plant flowers in both sultry shades and pretty pastels and choose some plants for their interesting foliage. He likes solenostemon or coleus, which offer some of the most exotic leaves.
Hardy annuals can be sown in pots or in the garden where you want them to flower – they will thrive in the hottest and sunniest spots and dry and hungry soils
One of the biggest gardening trends right now is for heirloom annuals, or the flowers that Jacob’s daddy remembers from his own grandma’s garden. Jacob likes calendulas or pot marigolds, bachelor’s buttons or cornflowers, love-in-the-mist and larkspur, which can be used in carefree abundance to create the classic cottage-garden look.
Some seeds like marigolds are large enough to be evenly placed on top of the compost, but as they are frost sensitive, they need to be started on a warm windowsill indoors and planted out when the risk of frost has passed
With his mummy’s help Jacob is sowing a few of his favourite frost-sensitive annuals – African marigolds, petunias and tobacco plants in pots on the windowsill indoors and will move them into the garden when the risk of frost is past.
Jacob is happy know that the weather is getting warmer, as he can sow his seed. For his garden border he helps his mummy clear the ground of weeds and stones and rakes it to make it fine and crumbly and level. He tells me that if the soil is dry, you must water it well before sowing the seeds.
Annual seeds take around 10 to 14 days to sprout
Taking my advise he has decided to scatter some of his seeds on any bare soil in the garden so that he can create a naturalized “meadow” look in the garden. Jacob will also be sowing in rows, sprinkling the seeds thinly in shallow furrows that are gently covered with soil. If the seeds need light to germinate (the seed packet contains this information), he will scatter them on top of the soil and press them in lightly but not cover them.
To fill his border with several varieties, he has divided the area into irregular-shaped bays (marked out with mummy’s flour) and sown the seeds in short rows within the boundaries. To avoid the border appearing too regimented, he knows that it’s best to sow each bay in a different direction.
After sowing Jacob advises that you must water the seeds thoroughly, using a watering can, so that the water is delivered gently and won’t dislodge the seeds
It’s important to label each row with the plant names and date of sowing and to cover the area with thorny twigs to stop next door’s cat scratching them up and to prevent birds eating them – he tells his mummy that his dog Jet will be a good boy!
When the seedlings appear and have developed their first leaves, Jacob and his mummy, will follow the advice on the seed packet and carefully pull out excess plants so that they are spaced about half the ultimate height of the plant apart
During the summer, Jacob will aim to keep the plants looking their best by giving tall plants supports and pinching out the growing tips to help plants to bush out. He will also deadhead or remove the spent blooms every day to keep the plants blooming for longer. If pests and diseases strike, he knows that he will have to pull out ailing plants and replace with fresh and if plants look tired give them a quick boost with a tonic, such as Phostrogen fertilizer.
Jacob’s favourite flowers
Sunflowers, Helianthus annuus, are easy to grow and come in miniature scale to soaring giants with blooms as big as a frying pan. They are perfect for making a bold statement and also as a cut flower and the seed heads can be left to feed the birds.
Love-in-the-mist, Nigella damascena, has an airy, see-through habit and the sky blue blooms and followed by attractive inflated seedpods, which contain loads on tiny black seeds that can be sprinkled on his homemade bread rolls.
Sweet peas, Lathyrus odoratus, produce both colourful and scented flowers, which can be cut for the vase. The plants can be trained up a wigwam to make a focal feature in a flowerbed and a great place to hide when it’s bedtime.
Californian poppy, Eschscholzia californica, will add a stunning splash of orange, gold, white or pink blooms wherever it may be needed. It’s also a good plant as its leaves or root placed directly onto a small cut or wound will help heal it.
Pot marigolds, Calendula officinalis, produces vibrant and edible daisy-like blooms, which come in rich shades of orange and yellow with many bi-colours.
Planting summer flowers
At the end of May, when there was no more risk of Jack frost killing his plants, Jacob was ready to plant his flowerbed with summer flowers that he had sown from seed and some extras that he bought when he visited the garden centre.
First, Jacob cleared any weeds that would compete with his flowers for water and nutrients
He then watered the plants in their pots so that when they were removed any little white roots that were sticking to the walls of the pot didn’t get ripped
He dug a planting hole, which was slightly deeper and wider than the pot, then he planted his flower in the hole
He patted down the soil around the plant to make sure that it was firmly in place and left a little dent in the soil around the plant to catch water so that when it rained it would get a little drink
Jacob has fed and watered his sunflower every day during the hot weather and can’t wait for the flowers to open and to watch them magically turn towards the sun and move their faces in different directions as the day ends with a beautiful sunset
Jacob’s growing tip is that you have to be very patient when growing sunflowers as they can take at least 80 days to produce a flower. He also recommends leaving at least one or two flowers on the plant so that they go on to produce seeds, which the birds (and Jacob) love to eat!
What’s more exciting than sharing your sunflowers with friends – Sophia likes her sunflower very much!
Sunflowers grow very tall – even bigger than mummy and daddy!
What fun growing flowers from seed has been!
Jacob is going to aim to grow a record-breaking sunflower next year – in 2016 the tallest sunflower, grown by Valerie Briggs in Dorset, which grew to a neck aching 4.60m. He will be buying the variety Russian Giant, which is very tall.