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This Week’s Guest blogger is Caroline Crooks who is an Allotment Holder, Teacher and Mum and blogs about her gardening adventures through the seasons

I’ve had my allotment for just over a year and I’m loving the challenge and the way the whole community shares their wealth of experience and advice! It has massively improved my well-being, particularly being a primary school teacher and mum of two girls.
Here’s my blog all about seed sowing…

Seed sowing for summer colour

Last year, I created a raised bed surrounding the patio area of our allotment plot and filled it with lots of flowers grown from seed. The pollinators loved it and it was a great riot of colour right through until October. I managed to use lots of them as cut flowers to brighten up my kitchen and to give away as gifts to friends and family!

Cut flowers from our allotment last year- zinnia, cosmos, calendula, cornflower and nigella.

This was last year’s flower bed surrounding our patio area and picnic bench. The lupins were bought as small plants and everything else was grown from seed.
This year, I have collected seed from some of the flowers we grew last year and I’m hoping that I can create another burst of colour like last year. Sowing flowers from seed is extremely satisfying and much more economical- especially if you can collect seeds from your own plants

Calendula and marigolds This year I am using collected seeds and hoping to grow enough to plant throughout the allotment- both of these are great companion plants for many fruit and vegetables that we grow on our plot. I started off the marigolds first using a windowsill heated propagator and it didn’t take long for them to germinate. The calendula I started off just in a seed tray on the windowsill and it wasn’t long before they began to germinate also.

Calendula seeds collected from last year’s flowers

Marigold seeds

Marigolds in the heated propagator

Calendula seeds beginning to grow

A few weeks on and the marigolds are doing amazing! I have potted them on into individual modules and they have even got buds on them! I’m going to keep them indoors a while longer before moving them to the unheated greenhouse.

Marigolds with flower buds already! The calendula are almost ready for potting on too and are just getting their true leaves.

Cosmos I’ve grown Cosmos from seed for a few years now for the garden but last year I added them to the allotment too. I’ve started them off from seed just on a warm windowsill and they have germinated really well!

The Cosmos have started to get their true leaves and will be ready for potting on very soon.

Zinnia.  Zinnia were a first for me last year – I hadn’t really even heard of them but I got a free pack of seeds in a magazine. I sowed them and planted them out on the allotment- what a stunning flower! Each one slightly different from the next and they almost seem to have a second flower inside the first!

Beautiful zinnias- such bright, bold colours! I knew they were a definite for the allotment and the garden this year so I have sown quite a lot of seed! They have germinated really well and I have begun to pot them on. I can’t wait to see their bright colours again this year!

Zinnias emerging from the seed tray.

Potted on zinnias with their true leaves beginning to show. When potting on any plant it is important not to damage the root- tease it gently out of the soil and hold the plant carefully with the leaves before placing in the fresh compost.

I have also sown some cornflower, nigella and nasturtium seeds to add to the mix!

Sowing your own annual flower seeds is extremely rewarding. The resulting blaze of colour in the summer is worth all the time and anticipation at this time of year!

Cosmos are planted in the ground now and some have begun to flower. I’ve been pinching out the tops to encourage side shoots and a bushier plant.

The allotment is coming on a treat and we have planted out marigolds, calendula, nasturtium, Cosmos and zinnias as companion plants throughout the allotment.

This week I have sown a few more zinnia in gaps for use as cut flowers. The soil is lovely and warm now so hopefully, they’ll germinate quickly!

To read more about Caroline’s adventures on her allotment follow her on Instagram @plot23_our_allotment_adventure

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