This is one of the many books in my collection but the only one to focus on growing big, bigger and biggest vegetables. If you want to grow giant vegetable for exhibition or to get large crops then there are many pointers in ‘How to Grow Giant Vegetables’ by Bernard Lavery and below.
If you want to see 14 feet long carrots or parsnips, the 28 pound radish or the monster cabbage weighing 120lbs then encouragement to join the monster vegetables growing movement may be our gardeners tip for you in 2011.
Starting with Giant Vegetables
A good big one will beat a good small one and that applies to seed so consider what you sow. Good genetic potential will grow good plants.
Pumpkins are a good starter vegetable as a heavy weight can be achieved in the first year. It is also fun to see them grow by inches every day.
You need to learn by experience so you improve growing conditions, feeding and watering based on your own observations.
Large Crops from a Small Garden
Harvested whilst still in peak growing condition, giant vegetables taste every bit as good as smaller varieties.
Plant in deep fertile soil which is reliably moist in summer.(You can tell this is moist by the moss)
Lobelia grow well in sun or partial shade.
Some varieties are a bit short lived 3-4 years but as they are so spectacular it is worth splitting clumps or taking cuttings to get re-energised plants at least in alternate years.
Perennial Lobelia species make good herbaceous border plants
Lobelia to Grow
Lobelia Cardinalis has deep burgundy foliage and rich pinky purple or red flowers for hot coloured planting schemes. RHS is currently offering Russian Princess variety at £15 + p&p (so the colours need to be rich).
A three foot high Lobelia x speciosa Vedraniensis flowers with the traditional 5 lobed blue-indigo flowers.
Hadspen Purple is a more compact variety that need to be planted in swathes for best effect.
Lobelia tupa has beautifully felted leaves and narrow tubular brick-red to orange flowers which are borne from mid summer on long racemes. It is also called the Devil’s Tobacco.
With hundreds of species, varieties and named cultivars the Lobelia family is large and wide ranging – have a look at the family for yourself.
Convolvulus is synonymous with bindweed that grows in poor soil and is notably hard to eradicate. However there are some species of Convovulus that are worth a space in a Mediterranean style garden.
Convolvulus cneorum is a compact evergreen shrub with narrow, oblong, silvery leaves. The numerous flowers are funnel-shaped white flushed with pink when in bud.
Grow in well-drained soil or gritty compost in a sheltered spot in full sun.
The plants are not frost hardy.
Convolvulus White Ensign (Flash Seeds) is a dwarf Morning Glory with clusters of white, trumpet flowers with yellow centres!
Convolvulus Eneorum will withstand a north facing or east facing wall but also dislikes heavy frost. The grey leaved shrubs can grow to 3 foot high and wide.
Ipomea indica the blue form of Morning Glory is a cool clear blue, a startling colour in the garden. As you would expect from a member of the Convolvulous clan it is a strong twisting and binding climber.
Uses of Morning Glory
The plant was originally used to produce cloth die.
The seeds should not be eaten as they produce hallucinations
In the garden they are very good for screening walls and ugly sites during summer.
They do not last as cut flowers.
Growing Ipomea Morning Glory.
Grow from seed and collect your own seed for next year.
Pick off dead leaves.
Try some of the other colours including rose and red plants.
Do not allow white Convolulous to grow as it spreads and throttles other plants
My perennial Phlox have been a good stalwart flower for cutting and filling a vase this last few weeks. I found the pink colours had more scent but all the Phlox seemed to drink copious amounts of water (I wondered if water and scent were related). The Penstemon in the same vase as the Phlox was not as successful as they had a far shorter life. Another successful long lasting cut flower is the Alstromeria. The Reds performed better than the yellows but both lasted over a week.
Our local garden center has been selling off Gerbera plants at £1 and I bought some just for the flowers that I could cut and put in a small vase. Even one flower in a bud vase looks good. There are now more buds to open and I think I got a good deal even though I will not bother to over winter the supposedly perennial plants. Gerberas come in a wide range of colors from light to dark yellow, orange, pink, brilliant scarlet and deep red ray flower centres.
The variety and colour of the Peruvian Lily or Alstroemeria, makes a colourful and long lasting display. Once established the plants continue to provide a good supply year after year. Pull the stalk up from the plant to encourage more flower stems. I grow my Alstroemeria in large pots.
Dahlias tend to flop a bit for me but Chrysanthemums can’t be beaten for longevity and impact.
Tip – Grow flowers that are easy to cultivate and flower in profusion but also last well when cut. Spray Chrysanthemums can give maximum pleasure for minimal outlay.
I love the formal Hybrid Tea Roses like ‘Just Joey‘.
Just Joey is a hybrid, bred from Fragrant Cloud and Dr A J Verhage. These parents gave the rose glossy green leaves and very fragrant, orange blooms.
Blooms arrive in flushes throughout the season each having 30 petals so they have an open appearance.
Remove old canes, dead or diseased wood and canes that cross, in spring.
Cut back the remaining stems by about one-third or a half.
As with all HT roses give them a good feed in spring then every 6 weeks and mulch to keep in moisture.
When buying a bare rooted or container plant look for at least 3 strong stems.
Soak in water before planting.
Just Joey may occasional repeat flower later in the season but is a slow starter in very cold spring weather.
Description of Just Joey
Rather a sprawling bush with grey green foliage. Grows 2’6″ tall and 2′ wide. …
Alpine or border Campanulas come in many species and varieties.
Campanula lactiflora ‘Loddon Anna’ above was grown from seed distributed free to members by the RHS. It grows four feet tall and has many very attractive open bell shaped flowers. The flowers are arranged on a stem in a loose cone shape but with each of about 60 flower about an inch wide the effect is light and flowing. This species is commonly called the Milky bell flower and is a lilac colour.
Most Campanulas bloom in June and July, but some varieties continue all summer.
Plant seeds or seedlings in May, though they can be sown in August and protected during the winter.
Most Campanula plants tolerate full sun but like some moisture in the soil. The smaller varieties grow in walls and rockeries.
Extraordinary Leaves by Armytage and Schrader is available from amazon.
The horticultural industry put most of it’s effort into flowers, trees and shrubs. Leaves however appear on all most all these plants and repay close inspection.
As this book Extraordinary Leaves shows there is an amazing world out there for those who look closely and want to find new visual and sensual experiences.