I like to grow stuff. That's the simple bit. I actually thrive on successful plants, that's the rub.
The problem is, I don't like just accepting failure, particularly my own.
Typically, my wife has taken to raising plants at home for me to plant out at the allotment, which has been a great help but the most recent and most important introduction was a pair of Squash plants. I'd name the actual variety but they were from a selection pack and neither of us can remember which so for now, they will remain 'The Mystery Squash'.
Anyway, the plants were tended lovingly for a few months by the very dedicated under gardener until the time was ready to take them to their new and final home, a well manured,pvc covered bed at the plot. I had installed a length of old downpipe into the soil to help direct and deep watering too, as all the Cucurbit family like a lot of liquid to swell the fruits. I even added a generous sprinkling of (organic) slug pellets. Not because Squash are especially prone to slug attack, just that at my plot, everything is prone to slug attack! The pvc mulch and straw heavy manure was always going to prove a haven for those slimy pests so a good dose of protection was obligatory.
In the end, despite all these precautions, the plants lasted little more than a fortnight before they had been entirely devoured, leaving not even a tiny shred of stem.
The disappointment and eventual acceptance that something had failed miserably,that I had failed miserably and that this was something my wife, a much less experienced or qualified gardener had managed to raise very successfully before handing over to me, its would be executioner, was all mine to suffer. I could have wallowed, denied or just ignored the fact but instead, I girded my loins and decided to set off to the Garden Centre, armed with my Father's Day gift voucher and in search of replacement plants.
At this point, I'd love to say we found replacement plants, they are doing fine and we expect a fine crop of Butternut,Pumpkin and Little Acorn for soups, pies and roasting.
I'd like to, but I'd be lying. There was a half price sale on the bedding plants range. We resisted. They had ornaments at a reasonable cost but again, we resisted.It was hard but we even resisted the BBQ offers.
When we found the vegetable plants section, it was, as one would expect this late in the season,almost empty. There were plenty of Cabbage plants, many Lettuce and other salads but alas, no Squash. I have plenty of Brassica, Lettuce and others but I needed Squash.
My only solution in the end was to find a vegetable that would be equally different to the run of the mill supermarket staples as Squash are, that would benefit from the growing conditions I already had prepared an that could go in now, mid to late summer.
As luck had it, the Garden Centre were clearing some packs of Sweet Potato plants. Easy to grow in milder areas (I live in the warm sheltered South West), and, yes, best planted out late June or early July!
Now, I like Sweet Potato as a food, my wife/under gardener/ head cook likes making me food with them in and it's another thing to add to my list of growing achievements so in the basket they went.
The added advantage of being suitable for growing in a large pot also meant we could have a plant in the garden at home but controlled, as well as three at the plot. Should the plot not be protected enough, we still have the fall back option in a pot at home.
Just as a final bonus, as I thought about writing this blog, I was reading last months gardening magazine. In it, I stumbled across an article about attractive plants to grow in pots. Which plant was included?
So, by late October, early November, I may not be hollowing out a Jack O'Lantern but I should hopefully be scoffing Sweet Potato Pie!