Spring is in full swing here in the southeast, as evidenced by the dusting of pollen covering every surface. We have been planting and mulching for several weeks. The potatoes are tucked under layers of organic hay, and their deep green leaves are already peeking through. The shallots and garlic that I planted last fall are looking great. Cabbages are showing their heads, surrounded by ruffled scarves of deep purple leaves. The fruit trees are about to bloom, releasing their gorgeous perfume to welcome the bees. Fresh herbs and winter greens—kale, chard and mustards—take center stage in the kitchen, and we consume spring.
Every spring I like to try something new in the garden. Don’t all gardeners? It’s part of the joy of growing—planting a new variety of fruit (this year it’s quince) or a beautiful new flower or two. Or ten. So when my gardening bud invited me to sample some wildflower and vegetable seeds from American Meadows, I gladly accepted the offer. While my vegetables are neatly tucked into raised beds surrounding our gazebo, the rest of our garden is less formal, as befits our country setting. I decided to prepare several areas in the lawn to devote to wildflowers. Preparation is simple—just clear away the leaves and grass and turn over the soil. Wildflower seeds are scattered over the soil and lightly pressed in. Keep the soil moist for a few weeks, until the sprouts are settled in. That’s all there is to it.
There are good reasons to grow wildflowers near a vegetable garden. Most importantly, they attract pollinators, and plenty of pollinators are essential to a great harvest of fruits and vegetables. About 30 percent of fruits and vegetables depend on pollinators to produce, and we’ve all read with concern about the decline in their numbers. Pollinators include not only bees, but wasps, butterflies and birds, to name just a few. Every year, as we add new varieties of plants to the garden, I notice more pollinators flitting about the garden, and that makes me feel good.
Wildflowers are easy to care for and some come back every year—either as perennials or by self-sowing. They add natural beauty to the garden are excellent as cut flowers. Who doesn’t love a bodacious bouquet of fresh daisies, black-eyed Susans, poppies and cornflowers? It’s important when selecting a wildflower seed mix to choose one that is well-suited to your particular climate and to sow the seeds at the proper time. American Meadows offers specialized blends that are designed for specific regions of the country, and they have tons of useful information about how to grow them. They also offer blends for different purposes. I have my eye on the edible flowers blend (cocktail gardening, anyone?) and the partial shade collection for our lightly wooded area.
Are you planning to grow something new in your garden this year? Try sowing some seeds for a fun and economical boost to your garden!
For more information:
Guide to Wildflowers: http://www.americanmeadows.com/wildflower-gardening
Thanks to American Meadows for providing us with seeds and encouragement for our wildflower garden this spring!