Planning a Cutting Garden

January 6, 2015 | By | 1 Reply More

Cutting Garden

Jars and old bottles make perfect vases for blooms

When I started Tomato Envy, I wanted to share ways to help you create a “deliberately decadent” lifestyle – the simple little things that add up to everyday luxury. One of my favorite everyday luxuries is fresh, colorful flowers throughout my home. Flowers are a special touch that will make you feel like you’ve escaped to a charming country inn without ever leaving home.

Before I got into gardening, I used to buy single bouquets at the grocery and divide them into smaller bunches so I could place small vases in several rooms of the house. Now that I have a yard filled with perennial beds, I can make my own bouquets by shopping the yard. But, nothing adds punch and color to these bouquets like annual flowers and spring bloomers planted from bulbs.

Our yard is a work in progress, as I suppose every garden is. Each year, we add new beds, plant new shrubs, and make progress on our edible landscape. We have a long, narrow patch running down the side of our front yard fence. The previous owner had planted short perennial grasses there that offered little practical value – nothing to eat, nothing pretty to look at, nothing for pollinators.

I had the idea to create a cutting garden there with bright, fabulous flowers to harvest and enjoy indoors and draw even more happy pollinators to our yard. Last fall, we dug up the short grasses and made a lasagna garden over the patch, layering cardboard, compost, and mulch. With a lasagna garden, there’s no need to dig if you’re converting regular lawn into a cutting garden. But, with these grasses, we thought it best to remove them first. In the spring, the area will have rich, black soil that will be perfect for planting my flowers.

cutting garden

Dahlia bulbs can be dug up and replanted every spring

Fall is the perfect time for a lasagna garden, but if you want to get started with your cutting garden this spring, you can do it anytime. Just make the layers deeper so you have plenty of  soil to plant into.

Cutting Garden Tips

  • Site your cutting garden appropriately. Flowers need full sun – that means 6+ hours of sunlight each day. Flowers also need consistent watering as they grow, so make sure your cutting garden is easy to reach with a garden or rain barrel hose.  If you have a large area, consider drip irrigation lines on a timer for easy, automatic watering. Your plants will thrive! A cutting garden will also thrive in a raised bed in full sun.
  • Plant a variety of flowers that bloom over a long season. For instance, tulips, daffodils, and sweet peas will bloom in spring while allium, zinnias and sunflowers follow in summer. Plant dahlia bulbs for dramatic blooms that appear in summer and won’t stop until the first frost. This approach will let you enjoy indoor flowers for months.
  • Don’t get hung up on design – a cutting garden is utilitarian. While it will look pretty most of the time, its real purpose is to provide flowers to harvest. Map out what you’d like to plant in simple rows, giving plants adequate space and make sure they are easy for you to tend.
  • Harvest often. Regular cutting of stems will keep plants healthy, encourage air circulation between them and encourage them to keep blooming.
  • Buy seeds. Many excellent flower choices for cutting gardens also happen to be easy to grow from seed. You’ll get more for you money with seeds and you’ll enjoy a greater variety of plants and colors than nurseries offer with seedlings or starts. If you have a greenhouse (I’m jealous!), a cold frame or an indoor grow light, you can get a jump on the season by starting seeds indoors before the last frost of spring. My favorite seed source is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and they have just greatly expended their flower offerings.

 

 

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Category: Enviable Ideas, General, Home and Garden

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