Edible dahlias in the the new raised beds

Last weekend Ryan and his dad built the first six of my raised beds (ultimately there will be 12 in the garden, giving me a little over 17 square metres of prime planting space). Now they need filling.

After doing a lot of calculations, and looking at bulk deliveries of compost and top soil, we have concluded that the most cost effective way of filling them is to visit the local garden centre and buy what we need in bags. It’s also the most convenient way of filling them, as it means we can do it in stages, rather than having to deal with several tonnes of top soil in one go. I’ve chosen a mixture of topsoil, organic manure and peat-free compost.

So last weekend we filled the first one, and I planted it with my edible dahlias from Lubera. They are new varieties bred for their edible tubers. I have one plant each of 6 different varieties, each one supposed to have a slightly different flavour. We’ll have to wait until harvest time in November to find out more!

I’m planning on mulching the beds with bark chips, but in the meantime I’ve sprinkled some of my old (harvested in 2010) Welsh onion seed on the surface of this one. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and it’s a plant I would like to reintroduce to the garden.

The exciting thing about the garden being on the way is that I can now start buying plants again! This morning I have ordered some pretty tulips from Sarah Raven, where there is 10% off tulips until midnight tomorrow (Sunday). I chose the ‘Super Perennial Tulip Collection’, which should contain 3 different ‘green flash’ varieties, and ‘Green Wave’, because they are colourful and frilly and just adorable. In my defence, they are also edimental – tulip petals are edible, although I have yet to try one myself. The only tulips I have had in my garden so far are Lady Tulips:


A lady tulip, moments before it was uprooted by a chicken

Which are still coming up, 8 years later, currently hiding out in large container with my crab apple.

The garden is going to come together slowly, so I’m looking at autumn planting rather than filling the beds with summery things (although there are some plants that could be transplanted). I had a £20 voucher for Thompson & Morgan, so I ordered my autumn planting alliums from them this year. From their range of autumn planting vegetables I chose:

  • Shallot ‘Eschalote Grise’, which they say is a khaki-coloured shallot originating in Kazakhstan.
  • Garlic ‘Solent Wight’, a soft necked variety described as well suited to the British climate.
  • Elephant Garlic, which of course is a really a giant leek.
  • Garlic ‘Red Donetsk’, which is reputedly very hot and not for the faint-hearted, but perfect for making garlic bread!
  • Onion ‘Electric’, a red onion which I’ve grown before and should be reliable.

I need to do some maths and work out how many beds that little lot will cover. If there is space I would like some leeks, although it’s getting a little late to put them in. I have earmarked one bed for asparagus, and am intending to order several varieties from Victoriana Nursery Gardens, who sell asparagus plants rather than the more conventional bare root crowns.

What are you planning on planting this autumn?




This blog post was written by Emma Cooper and was published on The Unconventional Gardener website. If you're reading it elsewhere you may want to navigate away from plagiarised content.

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