Summer’s golden sunshine warms our gardens and gladdens our hearts, it’s sublime! Make time to sow seeds now to enjoy stunning flowers next spring and delicious vegetables over the coming months.
Cornflowers (also known by their botanical name, Centaurea cyanus) attract a wide range of bees and butterflies; these rosette shaped blooms make great cut flowers, too. If you’re not a fan of the traditional blue cornflower, take your pick from the white, pink, cerise, lilac, purple, and (almost) black flowered forms available.
Sowing cornflower seeds in August produces strong plants that flower ahead of their spring-sown counterparts. Sow seed directly where you want your plants to flower but hold some seed back for a February or March sowing, to extend your flowering season. If you’re interested in creating a meadow, you’ll find lots of helpful information and ideas, here.
Last year, I sowed a couple of rows of Turnip ‘Oasis’ seeds. I didn’t protect my seedlings with netting; so, it was no surprise when Cabbage White Butterflies laid their eggs on my turnip plants’ first leaves. Soon, a growing colony of Cabbage White caterpillars were busy feasting on my plants’ lovely, fresh green leaves. I love caterpillars and butterflies, so, I left the caterpillars to do their thing and within a couple of weeks my young turnip plants were decimated. You might think that’s the end of this story and the moral is a reminder to protect brassicas with netting, but no – I wanted to share a happy ending with you! The caterpillars completed their metamorphosis and emerged from their chrysalises as butterflies AND my turnips (which were leaf-less for most of their lives and I’d written off as goners) continued growing and went on to develop delicious round white roots before the end of the season.
I was so impressed with the flavour of these turnips that I’m really looking forward to growing them again. I purchased my Turnip ‘Oasis’ seeds from Chiltern Seeds, who describe this brassica as having a sweet melon-like flavour. These turnips are indeed sweet and succulent. My ‘Oasis’ turnips tasted so good raw that they never made it to the kitchen! Their flavour reminded me of freshly harvested cobnuts; they were utterly delectable. Turnip leaves are also edible, they tend to have a mustardy flavour; the younger leaves are nicer to eat. You’ll stand a greater chance of trying turnip leaves yourself, if you protect your plants from pigeons and Cabbage White butterflies!
The plants above all thrive in sunshine or partial shade. However, I’ve enjoyed success growing Landcress (also known as American Cress and by the botanical name of Barbarea verna) in shaded and rather gloomy areas of my garden. Landcress forms rosette like plants that produce a bountiful supply of leaves through autumn, winter, spring, and beyond! Leaves can be eaten raw in salads and sandwiches or cooked in soups and other dishes; they taste just like watercress. I’ve also grown Landcress in the shade inside my Vegepod.
For more gardening advice for August, please click here.
This article was first published in the August 2020 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.
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To see the results of my Compost Trials, please click here.
For gardening advice for mid-July to mid-August, please click here.
For gardening advice for mid-August to mid-September, please click here.
For trialled and tested tips for protecting your plants from slugs and snails, please click here.