Sunday, October 26, 2008

Plants I cannot grow

This post was inspired by Somebeans' comments at the garden centre this morning. He takes great pleasure in pointing out huge stands of Bear's Breeches (Acanthus spinosus). I've had gardens with a variety of soil types, aspects etc, where I have tried to emulate the spreading stands of this plant which my mother used to consider a weed in her garden. But the blooming plant just won't grow for me.

Since taking up an allotment a couple of years ago, I can add to the Acanthus most forms of brassicas. I can manage spring cabbage (just), but purple sprouting broccoli, calabrese, winter cabbage, cauliflowers and kohl rabi have all defeated me. These things want to grow, surely? Until they meet me. Up until this year, I thought I had the hang of tomatoes, but sat in the conservatory at the moment is the whole of 2008's tomato harvest - 12 puny specimens, only just starting to colour up. I may just get the first taste of home grown tomatoes this year by Halloween.

I also seem to extend the finger of doom towards clematis and pumpkins/squashes. However, this year I have triumphed with turnips. And mooli. Perhaps the local children will be impressed by a carved mooli with a candle inside on the front doorstep on Friday.


Victoria Summerley said...

My husband says that when he was growing up in Speyside, in northern Scotland, they never used pumpkins at Halloween, but swedes or turnips (neeps) instead. (Bloody hard work, carving out a neep lantern, I should think.) He says a neep is a lot more use to man and beast than a pumpkin, if that's any consolation.

Anonymous said...

I think we always seem to want to grow the things that don't do well for us. (sigh).
One of the gardens I work it the Acanthus is like a weed - I am forever digging it up.... Which amazes me because in my last garden it was my pride and joy - and never seem to get any bigger.
Look forward to your pics of a carved mooli + candle.

Anonymous said...

My list of doom would include most Clematis, Astrantia, Erodiums and Pinks. Vegetables would be Carrots Carrots Carrots!
I do have no problem with Acanthus spinosus :-)

chaiselongue said...

I hope we can grow Acanthus here as we've just brought back some seedlings from my mother-in-law's garden! I shouldn't worry too much about the tomatoes - it seems to have been a very bad year for them in Britain. With twelve you probably have twice as many as the friends and relatives we visited in Wales last week!
Looking forward to seeing the Halloween mooli!I've never even tried growing them.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

. . . there's a poem - Hallowe'en . . . . here it is . . . (in case you don't know it).


Darren's got a pumpkin
Hollowed out a treat
He put it in the window
It scared half the street

I wish I had a pumpkin
But I've not and it's a shame
I've got a scary carrot
But it's not the same

- Roger Stevens


Mouli would scan just as well. Perhaps you should change it?


Elizabeth Musgrave said...

Ah yes, things I can't grow! I have had a total disaster with brassicas this year. They grew but the caterpillars grew faster. And I have real trouble with clematis unless it is montana and squashes are just a joke.
Can grow other things, honest.

HappyMouffetard said...

Victoria - you've just reminded me that we used to carve swedes when I was a kid. Smelly.

Karen - I think that a carved mooli might be a bit more of a challenge than my rather unartistic ingers can cope with.

Easygardener - I want ot grow Astrantia, but just know that they'll curl up and die as soon as I glance at them, and they're not cheap. I should try seed, as it'll be a cheaper failure. I can grow carrots, but always forget to net them against root fly until it's too late. ANd my parsnips are HUGE!

Chaiselongue- mooli are easy! Stopping them from growing into monstrous roots the size of your arm is more difficult. I'm sure you'll have no problems with your Acanthus seed - it's just me.

Love the poem, Lucy - I'd not heard that before.

Elizabethm - glad it's not just me! Caterpillers weren't a problem though. In fact, they tend to grow very healthily (once I remember ot net them from the pigeons). It's just that they immediately flower and then go inedible, without actually going through any of the intermediate stages of producing appropriate heads.

petoskystone said...

what is a mooli? (posting from the u.s)

SomeBeans said...

Mooli is also known as Chinese Radish (and a whole load of other things):

Gail said...

Thank you Happy Moffetard, I have thoroughly enjoyed this entire conversation! Doomed plants in my Tennessee garden...many of them including acanthus! But I now know more about turnips then I did before...neeps? I like that and imagining someone carving one is very amusing! gail

this is my patch said...

Would you believe I cannot get California Poppies to grow in my garden. My neighbour's garden is full of them. Work that one out! x

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

LOL, we all have our failures! Yours is not really a looooooooong list Mouffe, mine is much longer. ;-) But I keep trying.

Juliet said...

Carrots! Little green tops come up and I lavish lots of water & sun on them & then they fall over. Underneath I find there are virtually no roots - not roots eaten by carrot fly, there is no sign of pests or diseases of any kind, just really really really tiny stringy-looking things.

Apparently it's possible I was just too nice to them, and gave them too much yummy compost to grow in, so next year I'm going to try planting them in sand & topsoil & then ignoring them. But I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, congratulations on spotting the woodpecker! (previous post...) as for tomatoes... well, you're in good company. We live in sunny warm California and I still can't get the darn things to flourish. Last year i planted them in huge tubs of pure worm castings... that helped a bit but then the garden critters ate them.

Acanthus does do well for us here, but as noted, its warm. or, maybe they like our alkaline soil.

But, the challenge is always fun, right?