18. June 2018

My summer paradise: Growing annuals

Pink flowers against an old stone wall. What a dream! Especially when the flowers are surrounded by homegrown vegetables in a flourishing kitchen garden. Now is the time to start working on your own summer paradise by growing annuals!


Köksträdgården i skymning. En vit duk täcker en bädd längs en stenmur.

This is one of my deep beds right by the stone wall. It's the perfect spot for growing annuals and vegetables together.


My goal is to have more flowers in my garden this year. "Grow more flowers, grow more flowers" has been my mantra since January and it's time to make it a reality. Since then, I've been prepping several troughs with mainly pink summer flowers. I've planted most of them outside now, but I'm still not satisfied. I just want more!


Köksträdgården i kvällssol med en ogräsdrabbad bädd längs stenmuren. My kitchen garden in the evening sun.

This is what my bed looked like when I started working on it after dinner one night. Loa is right by my side when I'm working.


The deep bed by the stone wall is the perfect location for this project. I've decided to grow gourds that can climb on the stone wall in the back of the bed. I'll put annual flowers in the rest of the bed. I direct-sowed the seeds in the garden beds just a few days ago (June, 2018.)


Up until now, I've grown spinach in this bed. The spinach has (as it does) bolted quite early in the season and I've simply removed most of it. A lot of horsetail seeds blow in from a pasture nearby and I had to go through the bed and remove their roots before I could start sowing the seeds. I raked the bed and created 16 rows about 11 inches apart.


Bild på den låga bädden som ser vågig ut där raderna dragits upp. The low deep bed next to my stone wall.

I removed the weeds and created short rows around 11 inches apart in the dry soil.


This spring, I've had to sow carrots and other root vegetables in very dry soil. So instead of following the routine of creating new rows, watering, sowing and then placing the soil on top, I've decided to water the rows with a garden hose straight after sowing the seeds, before I cover them with new soil. I find that this method works better. I'll write more about this subject soon! Sowing seeds in dry soil is a bit tricky. I don't like watering my beds too much now that it's so dry and warm outside. We get our water from our own well here and that's why I don't want to use too much. I don't want the well to dry up!


Närbild på den vågiga bädden som är mörk efter att jorden vattnats. Close-up of the rows after watering them.

I put the seeds on top of the soil and then watered the bed carefully to make sure that the soil absorbed as much moist as possible. This is especially important if you're growing annuals when it's very dry and warm.


Pink annual flowers

I decided to put six annual flowers in the bed, one variety in each row: The garden cosmos Cosimo Collarette, the zinnia variety Old Scabiosa, the zinnia marylandica varieties Double Sahara Strawberry and Zahara Starlight Rose and the variety Midnight. I also decided to sow one pink cress seed at the end of every row, of the variety Ladybird Rose. You can sow all of these annuals in June. They'll bloom later in summer (the garden cosmos is a bit of a wild card though, we'll see when that will bloom). I picked a low-growing garden cosmos variety and I hope it will turn out nice. And yes, I do love pink flowers. I turn 40 in August and I'm determined to have pink flowers around on my birthday!

I've sown the seeds in quite tight rows. I can't really afford to fail (which I probably will just because I wrote this...) so I make sure to sow a lot of seeds and move the ones that grow to close to another plant.


Köksträdgården i skymning, en vit duk täcker en lång bädd längs en stenmur. My kitchen garden in the evening sun, covered with the garden cloth.

Using a garden cloth will prevent the soil from getting too dry. Just make sure that your plants don't get to hot under the cloth.


I water the bed after I've sown the seeds and then push the soil back. Then I water it once again and use my special trick for sowing seeds in dry soil: putting a garden cloth on top. The fiber cloth is the perfect tool when you want to sow seeds in summer. It protects the soil and keeps it moist longer. Growing annuals works so much better when the soil is protected this way.

Now that the garden cloth is placed on top of the bed, I'm going to water it again (since this is one of the driest spot in the garden.) I remove the cloth when I water the bed. This is the best way to do it in my opinion, even though some water can pass through the cloth too.

All I need to do now is wait. If I succeed, then most of my plants will have grown after about 15 days. Then it's time to start weeding. I haven't marked my rows yet but by now, I think I'm quite good at spotting what's what so I don't think it's going to be a problem. I'll cover the soil with grass clippings as soon as I'm able to spot my annuals in the bed. This will help protect the soil against drying up. I have also decided to put a soaker hose here so that I can add more water when needed, when the plants are still quite small.

I hope it will turn out well. Good luck growing annuals in your own garden!
/Sara Bäckmo

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