THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Jun30

Seeing A Talk By Garden Writer Val Bourne

Previously on Modern Mint….

We shared this piece by Val Bourne – 5 Golden Rules of Planting

Last week we were speaking at the Blenheim Palace Flower Show, when lo and behold Val Bourne herself came on to talk after us. We have always been a fan of her writing and books, all steeped in gardening experience, so we took this opportunity to sit down,listen to her speak and make some notes.

She spoke about vegetable gardening, and these notes are below – handy for us here at Modern Mint to remember what she said – but you may have to make of them what you will!

Notes from A Talk by Val Bourne

Important for vegetable growing? Soil. Timing. And EXPERIENCE.

Don’t give nitrogen to legumes.

Ask – is the plant shallow-rooted? Or tap-rooted? That will tell you a lot. As does the question – how and where does it grow in the wild?

Shallots – from the word Echelon in Palestine. Traditionally, you plant on the shortest day, harvest on the longest.

When you plant peas, plant 4 for everyone one you want – one seed to rot, one to grow, one for the mouse and one for the crow.

Sow every fortnight from March to July, in a little shade.

When potatoes were introduced, they were planted on Good Friday, as in the 16th century people believed the potato to be the devils food. Holy water was used and prayers said for protection. Nowadays, eat organic potatoes as they are likely to have been sprayed with a fungicide 16 times….

Tap rooted vegetables? Evolved in dry places, use less manure and grow in lighter soils.

Tozer seeds are good. (We like Real Seeds.)

Vegetable growing can be all about feast or famine. That is why you need EXPERIENCE.

Prefers winter vegetables for that reason – long season of harvest.

Purple carrots taste better grown in warmer temperatures, like Turkey where it is thought they come from.

Stressed food tastes unpleasant, because the crop tries to make itself uneatable to pests.

AGM varieties are a good place to start – they have been thoroughly tested by experts.

Winter squash is a good harvest and good for eating.

Tuscan kale is another brilliant winter vegetable.

‘Puddling in’ is an ancient technique you use for leeks and brassicas.


So there you go! Our notes from a talk by garden writer and organic vegetable grower Val Bourne.

Sep29

New Topiary In South London Out Of Yew

Making a new topiary out of the large, dull facade of a Taxus blob… My work was to change it up from a ‘jelly drop’ shape and give it texture, open it out and let the light through, and make it a sculptural feature in the background of the garden in summer… yet a major part of the garden in winter. A few more years before it becomes something special, but there was far more leaf and growth inside the plant than I thought and so it will not take too long for it to gain in character and become …

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Sep27

Topiary Teacher – Put on The Spot!

topiary teacher

Two weeks ago I was invited to teach topiary at the garden of Griselda Kerr, the author of The Apprehensive Gardener. I love teaching and sharing skills, but I was placed on the spot in the afternoon and asked to show how I would make a new topiary from an existing shrub. So below is a speeded-up video of me creating a cloud-pruned topiary from an old boxwood tree. I particularly love the ending when the class get involved….! See the video here. One hour was all it took, and though it needed a little tidying-up, it was made by …

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Sep27

Book Yourself A Topiary Workshop 2022

organic topiary snow

Charlotte Molesworth, my topiary mentor, and I are running our popular topiary workshop again in 2022. You can email me for details – or go here for information, your ticket and to find out about dates. Book A Spot On A Topiary Workshop, September 2022