Gardening grit

grit

Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about the sort of grit you’d buy in the garden centre. I’m not referring to loose chippings of gravel or sandstone, for topping your seed trays or throwing down on icy paths. I’m talking here about true grit, a steadfast, resolute, determination that somehow sets us gardeners apart, so that we persevere no matter what the elements or wildlife can throw at us, in our drive to produce a garden or allotment we can stand before and be proud of … or just to produce a half decent carrot that hasn’t already been nibbled at, that would be good too.

On my last posting, I had a lovely comment from Allotmental to say everything was looking good, and I realised that actually, that’s far from the truth. Yes, there are some good things growing on my plot, but I’ve had more than my share of disasters this year too, I typically just chose to share the good bits. It can be disheartening when things don’t quite go to plan, but especially so when it seems that everyone else is doing fantastically well, and making it look easy.

So in order to redress that balance, I’m now going to share the bad bits. Those gardeners of a sensitive nature may want to avert their eyes to the following pictures.

slug eaten lettuce

This was a lettuce, or should I just refer to it as slug food. I’ve grown an awful lot of slug and snail food this year. It seems the mild winter and wet spring are to blame, (i.e. the weather) but the weather gets a bad press from gardeners no matter what it choses to do. It’s either too wet or too dry, too hot or too cold, too windy, too wet and warm at the same time. Poor weather, it really can’t win.

potato blight

Potato blight? Chocolate spot? Or just a few random brown spot on the leaves? The blight debate is as rife as the blight is, while we’re all debating it. Try saying that in a hurry.

non-carrots

Non-Existent root crops. Looks like we have a total of 2 carrots and 2 parsnips to see us through the winter. One each, at least there’ll be no fighting.

mildewcourgettesMildew on the courgettes. At least 2 of them anyway, the third one is completely mildew free despite growing right alongside the others. It only just occurred to me recently that they’re different varieties. The mildew free one was sown directly on the plot, the others started at home. Hmm, interesting.

bean disaster

Don’t even get me started on my bean disaster this year. I really don’t know what’s happened, I’ve never had any problems growing beans before. But there’s always a first time for any complete and utter crop failure!

onion harvest

As mentioned previously I had a downy mildew on the leaves of my onions, and terrible rust on the garlic. Oh, and there’s more – one of my purple sprouting broccoli plants has bolted, and a couple of others have been munched on, despite hiding under netting. A second sowing/planting of mange-tout peas was a failure, and I bought some sweet potato slips back in the spring, but they’ve really struggled to get going and my expectations are low to non-existent.

But hey, I’m not going to leave this on a sour note. Failure is just part of the road to success, a chance to learn, to revise your strategy and become ever more determined to get it right. And boy is it sweet when you do succeed. So, I’ve sprayed my mildewed courgettes with a milky solution that should help, I’m off to buy some wool pellets to surround my lettuces, I’ve chopped back the leaves on my main crop potatoes just to be on the safe side, and a third sowing of carrots has finally appeared. The beans have now started to pick up and wind their way upwards, so with a bit of luck (and copious amounts of water / talking nicely to them) they’ll catch up. The garlic and onions are drying out nicely and doing fine, and the sweet potatoes? I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed for them, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

What is it that a gardener needs in order to achieve success? A good healthy supply of grit! And failing all of that, there’s always next year.

12 comments

  1. Oh Zoe, that’s the spirit. And if it was easy and predictable it would be no fun at all. Don’t you find that at the end of the year the successes far outweigh the failures? (I was biting into a sandwich the other day and felt something soft and squidgy in my mouth and it was a baby slug!) My new crop this year is Florence fennel and it has just sat in the ground turning yellow since planting out a couple of weeks ago. I gave it a comfrey feed today and brushed its ferny fronds so we shall see.

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    • Thanks! Well normally I do find that the successes outnumber the failings, though I’m not so sure this year, might be 50/50. Euk on the slug sandwich, those tiny slugs are great at hiding in the folds of lettuce leaves. But like you say – all part of the fun!

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  2. Great post. We’ve had a conversation along similar lines as it is out first year with an allotment. We’ve had many disasters but just treating it all as a learning curve. 😊

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    • I’m afraid that learning curve is a long one that never really ends. I’d love to say that after 8 years of allotmenteering I know it all, but I don’t think I ever will. Every year, there’s something else to ‘learn’ by. But I think that’s what keeps you going and keeps you on your toes. Just be sure to enjoy the successes!

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      • Our fellow allotmenteers say the same thing. I’ve really enjoyed it though, which is the main thing. Definitely agree it’s important to enjoy the successes! 😊

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  3. Bean failure here too, as well as total lettuce devastation, mice who have eaten pounds and pounds of allotment strawberries, cucumbers that didn’t survive the cool early season, carrots that didn’t germinate and weeds up to my eyebrows. I could go on. The miracle is that we all just keep going. Wishing you good gardening for the rest of the season!

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    • Thanks for sharing CJ. I’m hoping this is quite cathartic for everyone to join in on a collective crop catastrophe moan! At least we’re all in the same boat. It’s making me feel better about my failures.

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  4. Good to know I’m not alone! I know we always blame the weather, but this year does seem to have been particularly bad! I’m talking rain and more rain ! As I look out of the window now, the rain is lashing down and has been all morning. Ah well – onwards and upwards 🙂 P.S. Love the new blog look.

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    • Yes, it’s lashing down here too. The rain never comes at a convenient time. Oh well, we wouldn’t be British if we weren’t having a good moan about the weather! Glad you like the new design, it makes it easier to scroll back through previous posts.

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