Gardening for the enthusiastic.

I named this piece ‘Gardening for the enthusiastic’ and not Enthusiast/Green-fingered/Someone who has any affinity for plants at all because I am none of those things and I can only write from my own experience.

I am Enthusiastic.

I find something/anything to occupy my time and GO WITH IT with such an intensity and obsession it takes over my life. Last summer it was Grow-Your-Own produce. I read up on everything to do with back-yard growing (as you know this fulfills another of my obsessions) and then collected up seed packets for veg such as Peas and Radishes (nice and easy and QUICK) Turnip, Beetroot and Carrot of various colours and mixes (root veg are my favourites to eat) to some of the more exotic like Khol Rabi, Mooli, Asparagus and Globe Artichoke.

Oh yeah, I had my meals planned out for the next eight months.

The thing was, I didn’t have much money and I didn’t have all that much patience. I LOVE growing things. I germinated those seedlings and brought them on and hardened them off and planted them all out with the EXACT amount of precision. It was only once they were in the ground and big enough to fend off the caterpillars themselves that I got bored. The pea plants gave me four pea pods in all. I had FIVE pea plants. The beets were bitter and evil and spoiled my wonderful beet and sausage stew. The carrots were three and a half centimeters long after five months of being in the ground. The lettuces, now this was the craziest thing, were bloody prickly and couldn’t be eaten they were so sharp! I bought all my seeds from reputable gardening stores and did what the instructions told me to do. The only problem was my soil.

After years of weeds and rubbish and neighbour’s cats toileting in the border, the soil was in the worst possible shape to be growing veg in. It takes years of care and knowledge to build up a good soil and lots of hard-work keeping it that way as vegetables take away the goodness as fast as you can replace it. Hard work is fine. I enjoy it when I can SEE the fruits of my labours (so to speak) but I couldn’t afford a quick-fix for the soil and my compost bin was in it’s infancy.

So this year I pulled out all the weeds and the four foot high Kohl Rabi plant that didn’t turn into any type of edible veg and OH and I have sown normal everyday pretty plant seeds- Aubretia to give ground cover, Lavender for scent and for the bees and butterflies, same goes for globe thistles, poppies of 5 types, Red-Hot Pokers, My love lies bleeding (a very beautiful drooping velvety flowered plant that is actually very understated), Sage (I want a herb bed more than anything and given the conditions of my garden think the Mediterranean plants might do better here than anything else), Pansies for pops of velvet ‘Black-Jack’ black and many other to boot.

The Ornamental Corn germinated two plants. The caterpillars took one. The Pumpkin germinated three out of seven (higher mortality rate to last years but the seeds are older) and the caterpillars have just had the head off one. The Lavender looks to be doing well and the caterpillars don’t seem overly enticed by the tiny baby plants so here’s fingers crossed on that front, the pansies look okay but are a little sparse in the patch we gave over to them, the poppies may not take till next year but I’m okay with that and I’ve not seen anything of the globe thistles or artichokes, red hot pokers or aubretia. I will wait. I will be patient. I will go and buy grown plants to fill in the gaping holes in my garden.

I would like to have a herb based bed with other plants adding to it. I think I’ll buy larger plants so the poor things don’t get eaten down by bugs or scratched up by the local cats (mine is a house cat so no probs there).

The only plants I’ve had any success with have been hand-me-downs. The Lemon Balm I found in a corner and split and replanted, it’s doing marvelously. The Shamrock that was grown out and is a close descendant of my Nana’s, both in red/purple leafed and green varieties, brought down from my Mam’s house and replanted here. The Loganberry bush which is thriving after my old neighbour gave it to me through the fence for me to tie in and get to take roots on as she doesn’t actually eat Loganberries. The Gooseberry bush which I bought last year and thought was dead due to the poor thing looking much like a dried twig until a few weeks ago, now I have the sneaking suspicion it was just using all it’s energies for root-formation. The variegated bamboo which I hacked to near-nothingness and has come back thicker and lusher than before as well as being a bit more compact. My powder pink Hydrangea that OH was bullied into buying me one day that as soon as it was placed outside turned shocking pink and then the caterpillars got it bad. I have since planted the thing and dead-headed it, giving it a chance to form stronger roots so next years flowers will be all the better.

I need to go to the garden center. Our border is empty and sitting outside in our hand-me-down gravel and concrete yard (the poor little thing couldn’t be called a garden yet) is just the slightest bit depressing…

Good luck fellow Enthusiastics. May the force be with you.

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