Sunday, 19 June 2011

Green is the old... Green?

When growing your own fruit and vegetables you can end up with a period on your plot where there is a lot of green, green and more green. The only things ripening fast enough are courgettes and they are well.. green this year. We did buy some yellow courgette seeds for next year though. Then there's the lettuce which is.. green. Tomato plants are.. green, although the yellow flowers are dwarfed by mountainous amounts of.. green.

Following our visit to Gardener's World on Wednesday, I was inspired by some of the show gardens where there is less.. green... and more... purple, yellow, orange, red and blue. I'll remind you of a couple of the 'Grow your own' style show gardens. Look at them closely..


I've learnt my lesson this year. When you are in a small garden you need a bit more colour. We did buy some seeds for yellow courgettes, purple runner beans and purple sprouting.There is the Fillius Blue pepper plant too with the georgeous purple flowers. But what can I do immediately to brighten the place up a bit?

No... flowers?!?!

I am no flower expert. I won't pretend to be one either. Ask me about fruit and veg and I have had the input from my grandparents, I've read all the books, and I've read your blogs, and I've been experimenting with varying degrees of success and failure all my life. So I may be able to answer your questions. However, look at those photos again if you need to. What can you see? Yes, flowers. Look at the bizzy lizzies planted in the children's wellington boots in the second picture. Look at the rows of marigolds inbetween the tomato plants. Sunflowers too!

Amy was keen to get flowers but I consistently said to her 'they waste valuable growing space' which I suppose is still true. But she has twisted my arm, with the help of the endless amounts of green fly sat on our tomato plants.

We took a visit to that garden centre in our town that Amy didn't know existed two or three months ago (she is a regular now). They have a great choice of flowers. We didn't want too many, just a few.

So we bought 84 marigolds, two trays of labelia and two trays of something which I  can't remember the name of (and two cheeky pepper plants of course!!). The marigolds are an ideal companion plants for tomatoes as they deter the ever persistent green fly. On sunny evenings at the moment, Amy only needs to go over to the vegetable patch to get swarmed with them, and then have to pick them out of her hair afterwards. I'm sure they get in my hair too, but Amy's hair is a really light blonde so they show up easily.

Well, you know that blue tubtrug we bought on Wednesday. Well we decided we would use it to store our tools. Until today....

We filled it 3/4way with compost. Before placing a tomato plant in the middle. Then we placed 16 marigolds around the edge. This tomato plant won't be touched by green fly that is for sure. We've now put the planted tubtrug next to the tomatoes in the grow bags so hopefully this will work out well in fending off the invasion.

The one blot on our veg plot was the ghastly old hanging wall baskets that had been untouched for well over a year. So using some more of the marigolds and the labelia. The veg plot has had a bit of a much needed face lift.

We had a few left over marigolds so I have planted these strategically in the garden. I've just sown some wild flower seeds and we have 3 sunflowers that are ready to go in to their final positions.
The raised squash bed which I have mentioned before. Is now a seprated area of the garden. Last month I made a post called 'Windy' where I said that the old water feature had fell over thanks to the rapid winds and the top of it had smashed in to bits. Although there were many small bits that were not useable, I saved the large bits because I knew they would come in useful at some point. Well, they have and they are now the edging around the raised area which is the squash bed. I planted some more marigolds next to the edging to give it even more colour. There is also the giant yellow tubtrug and the Rhubarb in the blue pot.

Look at the sweetcorn in the yellow tubtrug. Because it is in the tubtrug it doesn't compete for root space with the squash and (soon to be planted) pumkin. Therefore because the squash plants should swallow the majority of the area and need the root system to support it, we are ensuring that the squashes, pumpkin and sweetcorn get their fair share of needed nutrients.

The green has definately been brushed over with the flower power and the introduction of the new brightly coloured tubtrugs and the yellow plant labels. Here is the new and refreshed view..

I'm hoping for a bit more colour soon when all of those fruit and veg start to ripen up nicely, ready for harvesting.

We are making the homemade beeswax candles tonight, so that's something to look forward to.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!



  1. Amy and Martin - you have truly transformed your garden and it is looking gorgeous

  2. Thanks Lottie. Can't believe how much we've done, until we look back on it.

    Have a good evening!


  3. Do you make holes for drainage in the tub-trugs?
    They certainly have lightened the place up! I have one that I use for practical rather than ornamental purposes, but it is a muted green (!) colour.

  4. Well, I like flowers as much as anyone else but this year was the first year they went into my garden (just 6 marigolds) to help lure the bees in but they haven't helped much. Still I do enjoy having those marigolds in there and will keep them next year. Frankly, I don't see a whole lot of food in those pretty garden pictures. Here we have to REALLY eat so a little box of greens, just isn't going to do it, but they are pretty and if you have space (to waste) you can have mostly flowers too, lol.

  5. I'm so pleased you have flowers. Not only do they look good, they help with pests as you say, and are good for the bees ;) And you can eat flowers too. Marigolds are always a must for me and I wouldn't be without my lavender. I always pop some Sweetpeas in with the beans and peas too. Climbers are good as they take less space.
    It's looking lovely, though. That splash of colour makes a real difference... and your bees will thank you for it ;) Mo

  6. Hey Martin, I used to feel the same about flowers, but actually they can be really good for your garden - the right ones can help attract pollinating insects, and certain flowers deter certain bad guys too! I always make sure to grow marigolds (deter some soil pests), nasturtiums (you can eat the flowers - they make a salad look amazing!), borage (hoverflies love blue, and they deter some baddies), petunias (under the asparagus, to put the asparagus beetles off - it really helps!), poached egg plant (bees LOVE them), wild pansies (also edible) and sunflowers (you can save the seeds to eat as long as you beat the birds, and you can even save the stems to use as canes!). Blue and yellow flowers attract the most insects.

    Read this:

  7. Nome - I'm glad I'm not the only person who wasn't overly keen on flowers in the beginning but has incorporated them in to their garden/plot now.

    Mark - I made some drainage holes in the tubtrug using a screwdriver.

    Mo - I am sure the bees will definately benefit from all these new flowers. They seem to love the broad bean flowers at the moment, so do the wild bumble bees. We might have a go at eating the marigolds, but I am a bit dubious as to how they would taste. I'm not the biggest fan of their scent, but I don't want to prejudge.

    Becky - They do look great don't they, but like you said the vegetable crop maximisation is lacking.

    Thanks for all your lovely comments.

    Happy Gardening!

    Martin :0)


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