Sarah Raven Seed Trial: Celebrate Britain Mix

At Pig Row we are working with Sarah Raven's Kitchen & Garden to trial two of her annual seed mixes. Earlier in the month we sowed the Pictorial Meadows - Pastel Annual Mix in open ground, with some nurturing and fleece covering this mix has now germinated and we have several hundred seedlings slowly knitting together (you can see how we sowed this here). There is nothing more satisfying to see those green shoots and then see them turn into cosmos seedlings and other flowers that we have never grown before. It is a wonderful journey for the gardener and you soon become conversant with which ones are seedlings and which ones aren't. 

At Pig Row we are overrun by sheep's sorrel, though an edible weed, it is a choking weed that smothers everything around it. I have learnt to identify this from the very start, and dig it out before it takes hold. Therefore, it is always nice to see a poppy, lupin or cosmos self seed itself on our plot. 

At Pig Row we have a quarter of an acre to play with but before this garden, we gardened like many people in a limited space at Drovers. To say that this was postage stamp sized is an exaggeration. However, Drovers was a productive garden and what we couldn't grow in the small bed, we grew in pots on the wall or on our front door step. Many of us experience this problem. We also have another problem, watering pots when we have no access to rainwater. Though we always advise to fit a water butt even in the smallest of plots, sometimes it is not practical. I have gardened in window boxes and large pots for many years. At university I grew vegetables and flowers in pots in my flat, on the windowsills and on my front door step. Though some of the latter pots walked away in a busy city, on the whole, I grew enough to make me smile and make my neighbours join in. Pots should make you smile and can be a riot of colour and beauty. More importantly, the smallest of spaces can save the very thing we are losing, our pollinators. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a bee bumble its way over flowers. The excitement they exude over borage, comfrey or wild flowers is contagious. I have run into the house just to drag my family out to watch the bees on our comfrey and chives. To this end, this year I have extended the chive hedge along the fruit patch and taken comfrey cuttings for a disused space by the utility shed. The bees have thrived, we have had comfrey covered in bees, all dancing and bumbling along.

Therefore, I have also decided to set you all a task to grow a wild flower mix in a large pot by your front door. We are doing this at Pig Row and as it is Jubilee year we have chosen another mix by Sarah Raven, the Celebrate Britain Mix, a mixture of red, white and blue. We have sown this mix in to three large pots (with some left over and used in a space by the blackberries) to be dotted around the garden, from our front door to our back door, to the studio door. These pots are twelve inches across, plastic and cheap. The idea here to see how you can grow something spectacular for less than five pounds. The seed mix cost us £3.50 and we purchased all three pots off a car boot for 50p. The compost is our own mix but a good John Innes based compost is available from local garden centres. This may be an additional cost but over three pots it does work out less than £1 for all three pots. If you choose just to do one pot, then the cost may be more but you will have compost left to do with what you want.

We filled our pots with compost and then watered until the water soaked through the bottom of the pots. We then sowed thinly on the surface of each pot and then covered with a light sprinkling of sieved compost. You can used your fingers to do this or another pot, just place some compost in a pot and shake back and forth like a sugar sifter and fine compost will pour out of the holes in the bottom of the pot and cover your seeds. Then label the pots, you can use anything to hand from plastic milk bottles cut into label sized strips to lolly sticks. Then leave them to get going. I placed mine in sunny but sheltered spot and once germinated will relocate them to their final spot. There is nothing stopping you putting them in the final place now and then just wait. 

So, save our pollinators, buy a mix from Sarah Raven, grow it and share your photos with us via our Facebook group.


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