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NASTURTIUM, LEAFY VEG, DIVIDE PRIMROSES
POT'S GROWING ON? 22/09/23
As autumn hits, with its damp and daze, I am drawn to the orange and dark reds of nasturtium. When we first moved here I planted cream flowered ‘Milk Maid’ but I regret this now because, although it’s a fantastic cultivar, here the warmer colours are a much needed last blast of colour. I’ll remove the seedlings to steer them back into tones of spice.
For the last seven years or so I’ve been experimenting with using nasturtium as a suppressing plant (see A Greener Life) beneath edible plants to save weeding. I should probably keep in check more to not affect the edibles too much but it certainly seems to work, and they look pretty among the brassicas. Though a warning, nasturtium will self sow prolifically!
A selection of kale ‘Red Russian’, ‘Nero de Toscano’ and chard. The red stems are beetroot leaf ‘Bull’s Blood’ and I’ve also included perpetual spinach. These last two are essentially leaves like chard. If you grow chard, there’s little point growing them unless you are interested. We made a hearty stirfry lunch using them.
Down in the wilder garden, last week I dug up and split two large primroses, Primula vulgaris, into 12 or so plants. They will self seed but seem to do this slowly in our garden. I’m speeding up the process. I love primroses, they remind me of all my walks in North Yorkshire over the years where my family have lived through my adult life. Primroses are useful plants, good for early insects and, I find, tough enough to compete among other vigorous plants.
Our herb garden is looking deliciously fluffy right now. It’s still early days because the shrubby plants are still quite small but I love it already. Borage on the left, Borago officinalis 'Alba', is a plant I grew in my herb bed on the old London allotment and it self seeds gently. The flowers taste of cucumber, useful for salads and cocktails. Our white flowered Rosemary bushes are taking on a compact shape from our regular picking for meals, a bit like grazing herbivores. One day, I’ll swap the wooden strawberry planter behind for a stone trough if I can find an old one.
The main garden looks much less colourful compared to this time last year due to the missing Penstemon that died in the cold wet winter. I have one growing lower down to take cuttings from for next year. It really does need more hits of colour to help give the planting more structure. That said, everything else has grown strongly this year meaning next summer will be particularly full. This is the third year of five I gave myself to grow on plants before I start the planting with more of a design eye.
This summer was a washout and we didn’t get an opportunity to mow the meadows without damaging the very wet soil. Not a good situation to be in because meadows do need the material removed for multiple reasons (not just for reducing nutrients) but it does offer an opportunity for me to experiment and study the grazing habits of sheep and the numbers needed to eat so much hay down in a short space of time. I have a lot more to say on this subject but I am saving that for a rainy day.
Have a lovely week, the main Wild Way magazine newsletter will be sent next Friday to paid subscribers. I’ll be discussing some exciting encounters with wildlife, a few of the outdoor tomatoes that survived bad blight and still cropped, and reviewing some of the plants that still look fantastic in October.