It’s been since 2006 that I’ve had our allotment plot and each year gives me new surprises and challenges. I’m more confident and I’m a hell of a lot wiser about what I grow and how I try to keep it alive. However, nothing compares to that first season. That first season gave me cantaloupe, for goodness sake.
On the west coast of Canada.
I thought gardening was a piece of cake.
Turns out gardening can be tough. There is nothing like trying out a crop that is purportedly a perfect plant for “beginner gardeners” and watching it shrivel up and die, slowly and painfully, before one’s very eyes.
Ahem, quinoa, I’m looking at you.
I like to look at flickr photos of what the mature plant will look like so that I can plan where to plant it, how much room to give it and what I can look forward to once it is all big and healthy like…
My quinoa doesn’t look like this:
Instead, I mistakenly planted it in the Spring when it is actually a cold weather plant. Sometimes, when I do this, the plant will still grow as long as I keep the roots cold. I water from below and my broccoli seems to thriving so why not the quinoa?
I’ll just have to try again.
Although it seems my family isn’t all that fond of the stuff so why I’m torturing myself over something that only I will be eating… screw it, I’ll eat it for goodness sake.
My kuri? Well, I’m hoping it will eventually turn out this beautiful:
Right now it’s only producing flowers. Will I have enough time to grow a few of the fruit? It’s a winter squash. Perhaps I’m being too pessimistic. I’m holding out for it. I’ve given it sea soil, manure, compost, loads of water and I’ve cut back my gorgeous lavender plant to give it more sun. That sucker better appreciate my dedication.
Aside from all this negativity and my father warning me for the second year in a row that something is wrong with my plot that I won’t be able to fix unless I actually physically replace the soil, I am having some success.
Earlier this year I got down on my hands and knees and protected what soybeans I had left with little toilet paper roll cardboard. The roots were safe from the cut worms this way. I was smug.
Then the rains came and the entire slug population of Victoria seemed to descend on my garden – well, not the entire population, but a hell of a lot. I was again on my hands and knees, delicately pulling pin head sized slug babies from the folds of the seedlings and crushing them mercilessly between my finger nails. Franklin has never seen me kill anything, even a spider, and all of a sudden his mother was fanatically massacring slug babies.
Now we can look forward to this (photo of my plants last year) very, very soon!
Of course, that brings me to why my first photo is one of a beautiful holly hock. Last year, I planted a flower. I like to add flowers to the garden because I’m a novice in this department and if I add one here and there then I feel like I’m not pretending to know what I’m doing (as in knowing anything about them) and yet I’m still attracting bees to the plot who will hopefully come across a squash flower or two. Last year, I planted a holly hock from seed. You can see it in the photo above of the soy beans. It’s in the background, all blurry and tiny.
This little blurry and tiny thing survived the winter, survived my compost, my sea soil and my leaf dumps. I wasn’t careful. I thought it was a dud. I didn’t think it was going to do much of anything (remember I know nothing about growing flowers, even less than I do about growing vegetables). Surprisingly, this year it shot out of the ground. While everything else (save the artichoke) was struggling to survive the slugs and the rain, this holly hock was thriving.
The thing is, I didn’t know what the heck it was. I had forgotten what I had planted and was just entertained at this growing “thing” that could have been a weed for all I knew but had nice leaves and was looking suspiciously like a legitimate plant (as in, not a weed). I left it alone.
It grew over my head.
It grew over Dickson’s head.
I think it’s even taller than my friend’s Sarah’s husband who I believe is about 6ft8 or something ridiculously tall (when you are short, everyone is 6ftridiculous).
I asked another gardener yesterday what it was.
“Holly Hock!” she says, like I was insane.
Slap to the forehead.
Riiight, that was what I planted.
So, after a full year it comes to greet me; to remind me that flowers are beautiful, powerful, proud and determined – just like me.
Our plot as of July 31st, 2010: