Control-freak gardening

This year I discovered I am a control-freak gardener. I realised this towards the end of the summer (I use the term loosely!) when I noticed one of the areas usually swamped with vegetables was only a quarter full with a teepee of peas, one of beans and a couple of rows of beetroot and swede. To be fair, there should also have been parsnips and fennel but neither of them came to anything.

In my quest to stop worms eating potatoes, they were all in bags, my carrots and peas were in pots, melons and tomatoes in troughs and lettuces and courgettes in growbags. The control-freak in me was determined to contain everything under the misconception that I would be able to control it. Did it make any difference ……what do you think?

The potatoes got eaten by slugs anyway, the carrots rebelled through lack of water and overcrowding and the courgettes got water-logged and turned to mush.

However, two experiments in control-freak gardening this year were a great success. Having had limited success with sunflowers and butternut squash in previous years – the former snapping in half from wind damage just as they were about to flower, the latter requiring a whole greenhouse to themselves – I was intrigued by the cover of Suttons Spring catalogue showing the most beautiful sunflowers in a pot.

The variety were Waooh! and promised “a multi-headed sunflower, producing a profusion of golden flowers with large, dark, central discs. The bushy plants are ideal for border or patio container…”. They germinated really well and I think you will agree the results were stunning.

Sunflower 1

sunflower 2

The added benefit of them being in pots was that they were portable and could be moved to a sheltered spot or placed at the front door so we could look at them from inside on the rainy days (of which there were many!), reminding us of sunnier times.

While perusing Suttons catologue I came across a similar solution for the butternut squash greenhouse hijackers – Squash F1 Butterbush. I was promised “a compact-growing variety which makes it possible to grow tasty butternut squashed on your patio.” And I was not disappointed. I grew two pots and they did have a fair spread but I was rewarded with many full size fruits.

Butternut 1Butternut 2butternut 3butternut 4

Now while these containment experiments were successful, it has become patently obvious that I don’t have room to grow everything in pots and I have a large garden with a selection of veggie patches lying empty. Something has to change.

So for 2013 I have decided to try to embrace the fact that it is impossible to control nature and give myself over to the green side; worms will eat my potatoes, slugs will eat everything, caterpillars will eat my brussels and aphids, flies, beetles, bugs, mice, birds, moles and deer will all try their best to scupper my hard work. To fight nature is futile and will only end in tears.

So my new mantra (provided by Monty Don) will be, “If a weed is no more than a plant in the wrong place, then a pest is only an animal eating the wrong food!”

However, my inner control-freak might need a wee bit of counselling first!

angry

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2 responses to “Control-freak gardening

  1. hi I was wondering what size pots you used for your butterbush. Also what type of light and how long yours received … Does the squash hang off the side or do they grow around the base? Thanks for any info .Yours look great 🙂

    • Hi – The pots I used were 50 cm diameter across the top and 40cm high. They were in the greenhouse so got as much light as the Scottish summer permits – which last year was not very much! Some of the fruits hung over the side and some were on the ground – I put something underneath them though to keep them off the actual ground to stop them rotting. I think if I had pinched out the tips when they were growing they would have been slightly more bushy but I am never sure what to do. They still took up a fair bit of space but not the whole greenhouse like before. I think it depends on the size of pot too – smaller pot, less growth. The squashes were delicious. I roasted one with olive oil and chilli to make into soup but it was so delicious we just ate it roasted. They store really well too. I still have one in the fridge. I would recommend giving them a try. I will certainly be growing them again this year. Hope that helps. Thanks, Fiona

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