Failing to grow my own food

This will be another year in which I’ve failed to grow my own food.

Like many previous years, I’ve not really gotten around to sowing seeds in February and March when I should have done – indeed, I was down for raising seedlings for the Lib Dem stall at the Green Fest this year, and ended up providing something with a much shorter lead-in time.

Anyway, at the Green Fest, I snapped up the stall’s leftover sunflower seedlings, nurtured them in the conservatory for a wee while, then planted them to the huge flowerbed P dug last year that hopefully soon we will be transforming into a cottage country garden border (ps, any tips?).

They got eaten by slugs within days. Completely destroyed. Every vestige of leaf munched by gastropods.

When I went to the garden centre to buy canes for the sunflowers, I also picked up some healthy looking tomato plants, and I put them in the earth in front of the sunflowers.

They looked more promising for a while – they grew big and strong, and had loads of flowers, and when we got back from Durham, there were small runs of healthy, fat-looking green fruit. And then they turned brown. The stems withered and went slimey and the brown consumed the fruit as well. I think I got blight.

Whilst I was on my planting spree, I put a row of sweetcorn seeds in the ground too. It was far too late to sow corn in May, but I figured what the heck? Of about 5 seeds, two came up, and have put on healthy leaves. They too are being munched, but have so far survived. I don’t have high hopes, however, just because they went in so late. They’ve no signs of flowers or cobs, and they need to get on with it at this time of year.

Over the years, I’ve had many attempts. The potatoes I planted and never earthed up that didn’t grow very much.  Other people’s surplus tomato seedlings – including the ones I put so many slug pellets on I didn’t quite dare eat the ensuing tomatoes;  the year I planted beans, but didn’t pinch out the tops, and only really got a plateful; and the other years I planted beans, and nothing came up.

Oh well. There’s always next February / March. What with a general election expected in 2010, I can’t think I’ll be busy around then?


4 comments on “Failing to grow my own food

  1. Kara says:

    My little garden has been mostly a failure too, so far. The tomatoes never really grew, looked sickly, produced a handful of small (but tasty) tomatoes, and died. I’ve amended the soil with a lot of composted steer manure and replaced them. The new plants look… less sick. The beans grew to about 8 inches high, produced one bean each, and died. The bell pepper grew 10 inches high, produced one small bell pepper, and died. The zuchinni (courgettes) looked pretty good but only gave one fruit every two weeks, between them! Then they got sick and died. The swiss chard does well, as does the lettuce. Something eats the chard (and SPIDERS nest in it) but there’s plenty left for us. I pick fat green caterpillars off the lettuce every day. Ugh. But it’s very tasty.

    Oh well, better luck to us both next year.

  2. niles says:

    Oh Kara! What a tale of woe!

    I was hoping that zuchinni would be my saviour next year (even if I call it courgette!)

  3. Jane says:

    I’ve discovered coffee grounds this year. Slugs ate the tops off each new bean plant until I covered the compost with (used) coffee grounds and the rest of the batch grew un-eaten. I think it’s the texture they don’t like crossing.

    As to the blight – a greenhouse is what you need, apparently. I have a friend who has a polytunnel on an allotment who reported last year that the outside tomatoes got blight along with everyone else’s but those inside the greenhouse escaped.
    Have just ordered a new greenhouse myself – 18ft long! – but even a small one can shelter quite a lot of produce and if you like lettuce (I don’t) apparently you can keep growing it well into the late autumn.

  4. Catofstripes says:

    Those spam protection sums get harder and harder!

    Don’t know what to say really, you seem to be doing all the right things. Plants are fickle, like lovers and have to be attended to every day or they fade away pining.

    Tomato blight has been bad for everyone for several years now. Jane is right, a greenhouse or even a frame over some bush tomatoes would help a lot.

    Beans should be easy. Broad beans can go straight into the ground in March, chase away pigeons and provide a little support and they should do well, but you have to like broad beans for it to be worthwhile. Other beans, like runners and french are best started in 7-9cm pots so that they can get their first couple of true leaves before the slugs find them. They shouldn’t need pinching out unless they’re threatening to take over the world but will need watering in dry periods unless your soil is very rich. I should be able to send you a few purple french bean seeds later in the year if you fancy it.

    Courgetttes, beware, I only have one plant this year and my fridge is heaving with small marrows waiting for me to think of something to do with them. Pick ’em small and eat them quickly.

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