Right now may seem like an uninspiring time with regards to gardening and spending time outside. However, sowing a few seed packets now can lead to fruitful returns in the Summer months. On our February grow list is the following. Tomatoes, Aubergines, Scarlet Kale, Black Nasturtium, Chilli, Lettuce. Chard and Ammi.
All of these seeds are sprinkled over peat free seed compost in trays or pushed into little coir pots filled with the same peat free compost. You could direct sow the Chard and Lettuce into pots you will keep them in. A lovely terracotta pot filled with cut and come again lettuce leaves on the kitchen table makes a brilliant, edible centre piece. As does a pretty coloured pot filed with the bright, rainbow hues of Swiss chard. Other great, edible pot fillers for window sills and kitchen tables are peas - plant in well watered compost in a pretty low bowl and harvest the pea shoots as they pop up. Pea shoots are delicious in salads and can also be used to garnish cocktails and mocktails. Leave them in light, sunny spots and once big enough to be transplanted. This is where the fun begins…
As the days warm up and the threat of frost has gone, you can begin to put together back garden pots that all not only bring colourful joy and pollinators but that can be used to provide easy and quick Summer suppers. Bright and cheerful mixes such as Nasturtium Jewel Mix and Scarlet Kale will create a rich, Persian carpet colour palette that you can enjoy both visually and nutritionally. Nasturtiums add peppery hits to salads and the bloom, also edible make very pretty decorations for most dishes, sweet and savoury. Kale, as it grows taller in the late Summer and early Autumn can then be cut sporadically and used in warming Autumnal dishes or even warm Winter salads. We’ve listed below some of our favourite patio pot mixes and plants below…
Jewel Garden inspired pots.
Nasturtium - all colours and varieties… Nasturtium come in beautiful soft buttermilk yellows to velvety, nearly black to bright vitamin C hued oranges to deep reds.
Scarlet Kale and Cavalo Nero. Edible and structural. Edible beauty at its best. These beautiful brassica add a taller, deeper coloured undertone to support the brighter pops of colour sharing its pots.
Calendula ‘touch of red mix’ These pretty plants will reseed readily and its petals can be used to decorate salads and other dishes. You can also you the dried heads to infuse oil that is very good for your skin.
Smaller patio fruit trees are a nice addition to a jewel planting scheme. Appletini is a fun variety with tiny, bright red fruits that are sweet in flavour.
Red Drumhead cabbage - striking, bold deep red globes look great underplanting more flamboyant blooms.
Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’ and Ruby Chard. To be planted at the back of borders and in the centre of pots for a fountain of glowing traffic light coloured stems.
Tumbling tomatoes, courgettes, chilli, peppers and aubergine can all grow in a warm and sunny spot outside. Adding these to containers with bright flowering blooms will create a tumbling, rich looking pot or planter…useful too for quick supper ideas.
Herbal and Nurturing pots.
Herbs have uses in the kitchen and the medicine cabinet. This duplicity is to be celebrated. Plant Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Bay, Oregano, Mint, Lemon Balm and Chamomile (to name just a few) and enjoy in both culinary and medicinal ways. Rosemary is very good for your memory and Oregano and Thyme have antiviral properties, a win win we say.
Structural and theatrical pots.
If you have a small space you do not need to diminish the size of you pots. Just a handful of large pots with striking planting can create a feeling of privacy and seclusion. Plant Globe Artichoke or Cardoons for drama and height. Olive sit well with Artichoke and Cardoons as they both possess that grey green leaf colour. Other good plants for this are Angelica, which can be found in a typical grass green hue and a deep Burgundy colour. If you really want to get the absolute most from your space whilst adding a bit of height and colour you could pot up some smaller rootstock fruit trees. You can enjoy blossom in the Spring and then fruits in the Autumn. During the winter months you can enjoy the silhouettes of the bare trees and even decorate with some twinkly lights to feel festive.
There is much more than this the can be done for gardens with small patios or spaces. Blousy and bright tulip bulbs planted in Autumn pay dividends in Spring. Lasagne planting means you get long life from a small pot. Layer mini egg hued crocus on top of Tulip who sit on top of later flowering Allium. Enjoy big bursts of joyous colour from Dahlia planted in late Spring. These will bring heat and warmth in the late glow of Summer.
Your edible garden will keep giving. Remember to collect and save seeds and freeze or preserve and gluts!
We will leave you with another way to use Nasturtiums if you choose to grow them in your garden this year, we hope that you do…
If you love Capers and want a homegrown alternative, give nasturtium seed pods a go.
These are often called 'poor man's capers', but they are far from poor in flavour and are a pretty good (if not better) version.
Let your flowers go to seed and carefully pick off the unripe, green pods.
Pickle them in a brine mix, easily found on the Internet or in a good pickling book, and pop them in a jar in the fridge.
We hope you enjoy a Summer of beautiful, edible pots!