Create a Cut Flower Bed
When in full bloom a cut flower bed can really make a statement in your garden, and comes in useful should you ever be in the dog box with the better half!
Here's how to go about it:
Choose a spot
For a cut flower bed you want somewhere that gets good light, is protected from winds, and you don't mind looking a bit shabby once you start picking at them. I have a very steep south facing gully, which at the top is a box planter that gets sun most of the day and is quite deep, so it will protect early growth.
Prepare the bed
The soil in this bed looks a bit depleted so I'm topping it up with some compost and potting mix. If you want really good flowering it pays to get the PH right, I use a McGregor's 3 in 1 soil tester for this. As I'm planting Gladioli bulbs I need my PH to be 6-6.5, I'm currently at 7.5ish so I'll lower that with some sulphur. Tui Bulb Food has sulphur in it, hopefully that will do the trick!
Sow your seeds/bulbs
Whatever seeds or bulbs you've got at your disposal simply sow them according to the pack! Seeds I find can be a bit finnicky when sowing straight into a bed and can get quickly over run by weeds, so I use a seed raising tray then plant out when the seedlings emerge. I've got some Carnation seeds that are germinating and I will intersperse these in the bed when they're ready.
For bulbs the rule of thumb is plant them twice as deep as the bulb is wide. There are exceptions however, and as Gladioli are quite tall I'm going a bit deeper, about 6-8 inches depending on the bulb size. And as they have a long flowering season I'll plant out a few more each fortnight so I have a supply of flowers over a longer period of time. Hopefully extending to Valentine's Day so I don't have to hit up the florist!
Protect your investment
As I'm a little early planting these bulbs I've made a makeshift cloche to protect them should there be another frost. Let's hope there isn't! Once the threat has passed I'll remove this to maximise light.
Now the waiting game
Gladioli take 90-100 days to bloom so it pays to try and forget about them! Just keep planting a few more bulbs each fortnight then give them another helping of Bulb food when the stems start appearing and again just prior to flowering. Pick blooms as they appear and enjoy fresh flowers all summer.