Cutting Bed Confessional

CaptureI was going to keep quiet about the underwhelming performance of the new cutting beds, but the blog intended to tell it like it is and, as in many other instances, it’s all part of the learning curve. On the left there are a few cerinthe (fairly successful, but not enough of them) and  some promising dwarf sunflowers in the foreground, but you would barely make out anything IMG_2414else other than a single orange cosmos and the poppies at the back – the poppies (Black Peony) are very pretty but not as ruffled as the packet suggested (and again n0t enough of them). There are also some Candy Stripe cosmos which are bulking up slowly, but that’s about it. On the right are some later sown sunflowers (a Which? Gardening trial) but very little else – all the trays are the winter sown aquilegia which have been turfed out of the greenhouse. There are other plantings here but little else has thrived…..

Compare these two beds with this small area planted with ammi and orlaya (coming into bud) sown inside about 7 weeks ago (another Which? Gardening trial) and the trays of  replacement sowings of tagetes, tithonia and annual lupin, sown only 5 or 6 weeks ago……

IMG_2417 IMG_2418

IMG_2416These later sowings in a different compost are definitely superior to most of the stunted offerings in the cutting beds – would you believe this ‘flowering’ amaranthus is only about 2″ (5cms) tall? So, next year there will be later sowing (instead of, rather than as well as) of most seeds – and denser planting too, in blocks rather than rows. The compost? I think I was just unlucky…..

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22 Responses to Cutting Bed Confessional

  1. Christina says:

    If you planted out and then the weather was cold, it can seriously stunt the growth of all plants. Timing is everything and is the most difficult thing to get right as each year varies (even here, and more so with you!. Getting the quantities right is also crucial I’m finding. Enough to pick at one time but not so many that it is the only thing you have space for or want. I’m treating all this year as a learning process and hope to get better next year. How tall are your orange cosmos? I was disappointed that mine are so short.

    • Cathy says:

      Definitely not the weather Christina – they just hadn’t thrived from early seedling stage and were small when they were planted out, despite about three months growth. That’s why I feel it was likely to be the compost – seemed no point growing them on any longer inside if that was the case. Some have picked up somewhat once planted out, others less so. The orange cosmos is no more than about 6″ 😦 Some successional sowing would be worthwhile next year, as well as other adjustments – definitely a learning curve!

  2. It is all such an learning experience. Collectively I am doing better each year, but I do find that each gardening season I discover brand new mistakes that I make. This could be the reason gardeners have such large gardens.

    • Cathy says:

      As always, your comment made me smile – I am pretty sure we will be forever finding new mistakes to make, but hey! it’s fun finding these things out 🙂

  3. Julie says:

    We are all on a learning curve Cathy. I too have had a whole section of my early sowings doing very poorly and all I can think is that the compost was at fault as all other conditions were good. I have changed my compost and current sowings are doing much better. To make sure you have a full cutting patch next year don’t forget to sow some biennials now and some hardy annuals in September. These can all be planted out in the autumn or overwintered in your greenhouse or cold frames – it really makes a difference to the number of early flowers you will have and I am regretting missing this stage out last year. I am determined to do better this year!

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you Julie. I keep meaning to look at annuals and biennals to sow for early flowers next year, not something I have done before apart from the aquilegia and sweet peas, so learning what can be sown early is definitely part of the experience. Mustn’t leave it too late to find out though! I really appreciate sharing these experiences with other bloggers – it is such a supportive community, isn’t it?

  4. Well done for your honesty! As you say, that’s what it should be about. And it’s not all doom and gloom! Your later showings are a different tale altogether – they’re doing really well. Goes to show, it’s really a bit of a lottery. As you say, a learning curve!

  5. cmchesebro says:

    It is all trial and error and not a perfect science… at least not for me. Don’t be discouraged. Your posts are always lovely.

  6. Sorry to see your cutting bed not delivering. Fingers crossed, it gets better. I promised my wife a cutting bed this year…so far, I’ve yet to deliver. As I type this, a heavy rain is pelting the seedlings I’m growing for it. The best laid plans. 🙂

  7. Cathy I like bloggers who post the good and the bad, those that only post the good I find a bit boring and I don’t learn and they make me feel an inadequate idiot, like I’m the only gardener who has failures, so thanks,
    after saying all that I am though sorry you are having these disappointments, I have found too that early sowings are not always a good idea, perhaps next time when transferring from greenhouse to beds a light covering of fleece might help with the transition, there are though soooo many variables to gardening, nice to see your lovely healthy trays of later sowings, Frances

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Frances – it would have been so easy just not to mention it, as there are other things to write about, but sharing with other bloggers is part of the two-way learning experience. The difference with these later seedlings is indeed amazing – and I really do think it was duff compost the first time round, rather than the timing, although things germinated well in the first instance.

  8. croftgarden says:

    Alas there are no short cuts and creating a cutting garden is not as easy as it seems. Timing is everything and getting the schedule of seed sowing and planting is probably the equivalent to running NASA. So don’t be too disheartened, some of my seeds are still in the packet!

  9. AnnetteM says:

    Good for you for trying, it’s better than I do. I only really grow sweet peas from seed and a few Ladybird poppies. I did put in some coriander this year for the first time. It was good to get the reminder about biennials as I think I might expand my repertoire and try some foxgloves this year. It’s good to take some risks occasionally!!

  10. Anna says:

    Well your sunflowers are looking fine Cathy and unlike mine they do not appear to have been munched by the mollucs. It must be down to those hostas that you are so kindly feeding them for breakfast. I’m convinced that later sowing seems to be more productive. I’m also trying to sow more stuff eg hardy annuals directly into the ground as they do not suffer any checks then and like Julie I’ve sown some seeds in the autumn including cerinthe and orlaya.

    • Cathy says:

      Ah well, I have used the coffee grounds trick on the sunflowers, as recommended by Chloris and Liz, and you can see trails on the grounds but the plants are undamaged – slugs presumably prefer tea! Up to now I have very rarely got any sunflowers as a far as flowering stage, but the dwarf ones are buffing up nicely already – Topolino, I think they are. I have been reluctant to sow direct as I have so little clear ground to do so, but of course I could sow direct into the cutting beds… Forward thinking for Autumn sowing is definitely something I will pursue.

  11. Sarah says:

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s hard to admit when things don’t go to plan but gardening is a learning curve and that’s what makes it interesting! I remember trying to grow Zinnia ‘lime green’ last year and 2 trays were eaten overnight! I sowed another tray and bought them inside for safety! I also remember sowing a tray of sunflowers, transplanting and staking each fragile one with a kebab stick each only for Mr Fig to come along and upend the whole lot! Yep – compost is the least of my worries 🙂 I think you’ve had a great start to your cutting beds and I’ll certainly take on your advice for my cut flower plans.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh thanks for your support Sarah, it’s good to share other people’s successes and failures too – I had ONE weedy looking Lime Green Zinnia last year. None this year, despite sowing, but a second later sowing of Z Purple Prince (I think) is looking good at the moment. Upwards and onwards! 🙂

  12. bittster says:

    I’m going to agree with you on pointing the finger at the compost. I also think I had a bad batch with poor germination and plants that never really took off. Later sowings in different soil are much better off, but the first group…. 😦

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