Then there was the lone fig tree, hidden right at the back of the orchard. Sometimes we forgot about the figs, too busy enjoying the citrus fruit in winter and the rest of the fruit in summer. The trees were old by the time I came along and the other gardeners before me were more interested in growing annuals.
I'm going to plant as many fruit trees as possible over the coming years (have already started) and in my orchard, there will be more fig trees so that in summer our kids can enjoy the sweet, juicy stickiness of a fig picked off a tree after playing outside for hours on end. But that's not going to happen this April (figs are planted in Spring, not Autumn, from what I understand).
Meanwhile, I'm going to chat about flowers, with special focus on marigolds and nasturtiums, as I grow a lot of them almost year-round (sorry post is loooong)
|This pretty can share space with anything!|
Preparing the soil: Marigolds can very easily grow in sandy, loamy or clay soil, as long as they get full sun. You can make sure that the soil is moderately fertile and well-drained, though I've had seeds grow is some pretty inhospitable places.
The planting process: You can sow the seeds directly into the soil in Spring once the soil is warm, or you can start seeds indoors about a month to 6 weeks before the last spring-frost date. In warmer areas, you can grow them almost year-round. Last winter I had a beautiful showing of flowers that lasted through mid-winter.
My sowing differs based on specific gardening needs: I broadcast seeds all over my food garden. These flowers are for pest control, as marigolds are supposed to repel animals and insects. I also plant them as starts to be transplanted to strategic places in the garden.
Caring for the plant: Marigolds transplant exceptionally well. Ideally you can transplant them after six weeks, though I've moved much older plants, some of them even close to starting their buds.
|tiny avocado tree sapling peeking through marigolds|
Also do your best to control how many plant you grow in each bed, as they can very easily take over either in quantity or size, and you don't want that unless your intention was to focus on marigolds as your crop.
Harvesting and uses: When you pick marigolds for flower arrangements, strip off any leaves that might be under water in the vase; this will discourage the overly pungent smell.
You can also munch on them as a quick snack, throw them in salads or make a body cream with them (Rhonda's recipe makes very nice and smooth cream. Not sure if marigold and calendula are the same plant though, as calendula is said to be a daisy family plant, so not guaranteeing medical benefits.)
If you think growing marigolds was easy, then you haven't grown nasturtiums:). These flowers prefer poor quality soil. How cool is that? So you can grow them in all those awkward and unsightly places you've been wondering what to do with.
|See it grow in the far ngelected end of the yard too far for me to do anything|
They self-seed quite well too, so once you've planted then in an area, you can be sure that they'll keep coming back. Unless you live in a warm climate region like mine, in which case they'll be perennials. Pretty way to tidy up your yard, no?
Planting: I usually just soften then soil in these awkward places and then take a walk, sticking the seeds in the depth almost up the first bend of my finger. I then water the area regularly (4-5 times during the height of summer, twice a week in winter) until they break through.
Caring for the plants: Eeh.. I'd be lying if I said I did anything to care for the poor things. In rainy season, they're on their own once they've broken soil. In summer, I may water them twice a week. Or they accidentally get watered while I care for something that's planted near them.
Serving suggestions: I usually pick the flowers while I'm gardening, just as a quick snack because I like the taste. I also like throwing them into my green salad salads, especially when I have different types of greens in there. Tasty, and looks pretty too.
I've also heard that a couple of leaves a day can help clear up acne and that the tea, where you allow a cup of the flowers to simmer in boiling water for 15 minutes and then cool it, can be used as a toner(I'm not vouching for that!).
A very big cautionary: I have many other edible flowers in my garden - borage, basil, chives, fennel etc- and you probably do too, if you have a garden. However, we all need to be cautious when we eat flowers, especially if we use fertilisers or insecticides etc. Here is a guide about edible flowers that I found online.
And for gardening inspiration, here are some photos from my garden taken this April (most of them yesterday)