Violet de Provence is an early and fine tasting choice with the bonus of a second crop 6-8 weeks after the first picking. This striking architectural plant tastes as good as it looks, and if some buds are left to bloom into large purple thistle-like flower heads become magnets for bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. Harvest May-June from the 2nd year, and your plants can be in production for 3 or 4 years.(6 seeds)
SOW: either under cover from late February to early March & in August to September or in the open from March through to July. Sow seeds 1cm deep in a seed tray or small pots, cover lightly with fine soil, firm gently and keep moist. They need to be placed in a sunny position with direct sunlight. Pot on to 9cm pots and plant out when established and the roots are starting to fill the pot.
GROW: these need some space, 60-100cm apart or find a home in an ornamental border. From the 2nd year harvest before the buds open (about May), cutting the stem 5cm or so below the base of the bud. Any old branches should be removed to allow new growth: if you cut the whole plant down to the ground after the last bud (leaves and all), they will crop again 6-8 weeks later. From this 2nd crop leave some buds to flower and the leaves in place to feed the plant. In the winter add mulch at the base of the plant to preserve moisture and block out the frost.
ENJOY: plants remain productive for up to 4 years, eat and enjoy and leave some flowers for the wildlife too.