Poppies … lest we forget

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In anticipation of this year’s Remembrance Day, MayFord Seeds have launched a new livery seed packet, packed with Flanders poppy (Papaver rhoeas) seed.

War is unfortunately still a reality in our modern world, whether it be conflict between countries or the fight against Covid 19. Initially instituted to commemorate those that fell in World War 1, Remembrance Day on 11 November now symbolises all those that have lost their lives in the line of duty. The Flanders poppy, which carpeted the battlefields of the Western Front, is worn or laid as wreaths to mark the day.

But if you’re wanting a field of poppies of your own, time is of the essence. To make sure you have a crop of striking poppies in bloom for Remembrance Day, simply go to any good garden centre, get your packet of seed and plant as soon as. They are really easy to grow. Choose a bed that gets loads of sun, dig it over, sprinkle the seed, pat down and water. If they will grow on a bombed-out battlefield, they will just love your garden

Top Tips

  • The seed needs cool soil conditions to germinate, so plant them from late autumn into early spring.
  • Germination should occur within 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Plant in a sunny position in beds or pots.
  • You can either sow them in drifts around the garden or do a massed planting in one bed.
  • Dig over the bed before planting and plant the seed where you want them to mature as they prefer not to be moved.
  • Once sown pat down the soil firmly and water well.
  • Keep the soil damp until the seedlings are established, after which the plants are surprisingly water-wise.
  • They do respond well to liquid fertilisers.
  • Deadhead any spent flowers to extend their flowering time.
  • The blooms can be used as cut flowers. Pick them as soon as you see the red of the petals begin to show.
  • Poppy seeds have a nutty taste and are used extensively as a flavouring in cakes and bread. Oil made from the seed is highly regarded in France.
  • The fresh young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked like spinach, and are used to flavour soups and salads. They are best used when tender and before the plant has produced flower buds.


Did you know?
The seeds of the Flanders poppy (Papaver rhoeas) had lay dormant on the front lines of Belgium until 1915 when they were disturbed by the artillery bombardments in World War 1 and coincidentally, the weather was perfect conditions for them to germinate. They were fertilised by nitrogen in the explosives and lime from the shattered rubble of the buildings Every year for the next four, the poppies grew and their flowers lay like a red blanket across the fields on which the soldiers fought.  They also flowered in Turkey when the ANZAC’s landed at Gallipoli.

Flanders Fields was a major battle theatre on the Western Front during the war where one million soldiers from more than 50 different countries were wounded, or killed in action. It is located in Waregem, West Flanders, Belgium, however experts have said the poppy is fast disappearing there due to dramatic changes in the plant life of northern France and Belgian Flanders over the past 100 years.

To check out MayFord’s complete range of products visit their website www.mayford.co.za

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