28 January 2021
This year started with some hard frosts. We’ve been told there were no hard frosts in Cornwall last year but we’ve had 3 already this winter. New year’s day was a very sorry sight in the polytunnels and we had some very sad snapdragons, which caused a bit of a panic. But much to our amazement, they’ve bounced back after each frost and are now looking healthy.
This month, we sowed seeds for larkspur, cynoglossum, campanula, snapdragons, catananche and monarda. Up until recently, the second polytunnel remained empty, so we’ve been busy with lots of hoeing and weeding to get the beds ready for all the incoming flowers.
In autumn, you may remember we planted our first ranunculus and anemones. It takes about 2 weeks for these to sprout, after which we then transplanted them into one of our polytunnels and they’re looking big and bushy and healthy but no signs of flower stems just yet.
We’re trialling a few different methods with our second planting of ranunculus and anemones to see what works best. Some have been planted in the polytunnel like the others, however since our first planting, the mice have found us, so they’ve had a bit of a feast. Next we’re going to try keeping them in the greenhouse a little longer so they green up a bit first – this will hopefully make them less irresistible to field mice. From these, we’re going to try one variety outside to see how it does, as they’re fairly hardy in cold weather. If this works well, it means we can plant loads more outside next year outside with the flower beds we’ve now made.
We’ve had a lot of rain, so the field is super muddy and slippy at the moment – we’ve had some interesting moments getting a digger through to make up the last 9 beds in the field, where we plan to plant our larkspur, snapdragons and catananche. These beds use the same no-dig method we used previously, whereby we lay cardboard (from our flower deliveries from Holland – waste not, want not!) which acts as a weed suppressant and then this gets covered with topsoil and green waste (the digger was to move the green waste and top soil, not to dig!). The idea being this will all rot down over winter and then be good to go in spring.
We’ve now been in Cornwall nearly 8 months. We’ve been composting our green waste this entire time, using the bays James built and not once have these had to be emptied. By comparison, in the same time period in London, we’d have made 70 commercial bin loads of green waste (we had two big bins, which were collected weekly). James wrote an interesting post about this on Instagram last year – if you’re interested in compost and maths, have a read.
The polytunnels are looking much greener. The most exciting development is the few (quite literally 2) eager beavers flowering in the anemone bed. We expect most of these to bloom in a few months so these are very early but it’s got us excited for spring. The first few are (apparently) always a little nibbled and slightly odd looking but we are in love. The anemones are chucking up more and more flowering stems so hopefully soon we will have enough to add to the bouquets.
We’ve been cutting back the sweetpeas which feels so wrong but is essential – if we let them just do their thing it will create such a thick wall of tendrils, we won’t be able to harvest anything, so we are trailing one or two stems up their strings, which we’ll tie on shortly, and cutting the rest of the plant back.
We ‘overwintered’ the Clarkia and it looks happy. This just means planting in autumn to grow over winter. You can also do a spring sowing but it’s meant to be hardier if you plant in the autumn. We pinched it out to encourage more growth from side shoots and it looks like it’s done the trick as they are nice and bushy. This means cutting back the main shoot to encourage side shoots, otherwise the flower just sends all its energy to that one, main shoot. We’ve done the same to our snapdragons and although it often feels like you’re doing something you shouldn’t, encouraging side shoots means you can double the flowers on each plant.
James has built some beautiful raised beds which will mainly be for our own personal use (growing veg and a bed for the children to grow things too) but some of the beds will be trial patches so that we can test varieties to grow for next year. We want to know if the vase life is good enough and if they cope well in transit being in our hydration gel, as well as if they’re easy to grow! First on my list to test will be Thai silk poppies. They look so beautiful but I’m not convinced they will last long enough for our bouquets or whether their stem length will be long enough, we’ll see!Back to blog