Alan Titchmarsh Eat Your Heart Out...

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

Well, I must say I'm now the owner of a collection of new words and phrases after the last few months. From R numbers to herd immunity, via social distancing, contact tracing through to comorbidity(though can't remember what that actually means). Sadly, most are miserable and words I've managed happily without knowing for the past 50 years and be happy to forget.

However, there's a whole other group of virus-free terminology I've also picked up - words like grow-bag; bolting, chlorosis and dibber. Yes. I'm like a human dictionary. And these beauties are from my stint at being a lockdown gardener...

As a natural pessimist, I decided that the pandemic would mean us being locked away for months and months with foods running out and famine ripping through the country. Although (see previous Covid post!) I didn't go mad stockpiling food, I thought I'd invest in a few seeds so I could grow my own salad and Sunday roast veg for when times were really desperate...

Fortunately - apart from loo-rollgate, supermarkets actually never really seemed to run out of anything and there was no famine which is a good job as I don't think my fingers have much green running through them. See the pics below for evidence.

I thought you stick plants in soil, give them some water, bingo - you've got lovely veg. Simple.

I merrily planted all my Wilko seeds (cabbage, carrots, pak choi, kale plus a few half-dead strawberry plants that arrived in an envelope courtesy of Amazon) in a couple of grow bags (another thing along with R numbers that I'd never heard of pre Covid). Then some tomato plants in a hanging basket and some carrots seeds and strawberry plants in plant pots. Eh voila! Enough lovely fruit and veg to open a market stall... Well not quite.

Firstly, its a small garden with only one flower bed, secondly I didnt take into account the size of the actual veg itself. I happily scattered all the seeds from all the packets into the grow bags (hindsight - I now know you don't actually scatter them all happily - you sow a small number of them in disciplined, well spaced rows) and the couple of plantpotsI had, not even thinking about how twenty or more fully formed cabbages and the same amount if kale would actually fit in the approx 1 foot square areas in a grow bag...

I won't bore you with the whole growing process but needless to say I won't be opening a market stall any time soon.

In brief:

  • I'm having to kill off / donate some of the cabbages as I haven't got the space for them all now they're getting to be sort of cabbage size. Cabbages I realise are quite big,

  • The pak/bok choi started growing taller and taller and sprouting flowers which looked pretty but from googling I gathered this wasn't a good thing. This is when I learned the term Bolting.

  • According to the the RHS,Bolting is the term applied to vegetable crops when they prematurely run to seed, usually making them unusable😨 😮 Apparently the plants go into panic mode and attempt to reproduce to provide the next generation as they know they won't survive... Very sad I was hoping to grow, not kill 😭 Im still not quite sure why - I talked to them and watered them regularly - although apparently they aren't that keen on the sun... Who'd have thought, Too much sun for an Asian beg in England.. So I quickly whipped off (think official terminology is harvested when done correctly) the healthy leaves before they came into bloom.I think I might have just enough from my 'crop' for a small stir fry.

  • My carrots have lovely tops. When I dug one or two out after a couple of months, excited to see how the carrot was devleoping, it was just a very, very thin root. No hint of carrot 😕. (see pic below) Apparently this can happen when overcrowded and the carrots don't develop. Again. Shouldnt have just poured the whole packet in a plantpot., More 😭 but I'm just leaving them for now in hope they'll suddenly develop. Will keep you posted.

  • My strawberry plants aren't much taller than when I first planted them (but are still alive. Well 3 out of 4 are) and my neighbour jovially pointed out that I wouldn't be getting any strawberries this year, More 😥

  • No sign of any tomatoes as yet - but they still have a long way to go - well I think and hope so - I've lost the instructions.

  • So I'm holding out for the currently overcrowded cabbages and kale -though who knows what fates will befall them in the few months growing time they've still got left..

One thing I do know -next time I buy a bag of carrots - or any fruit or veg for that matter, I'll have a lot more appreciation and respect for the time and effort taken to get them from birth to my basket...

PS Any cabbage / kale growing tips gratefully received...!!

1) Lovely carrot tops 2) No lovely carrot 3) Pretty, ready to bloom Bok choi 4) Sad, bad bolting Bok choi

#gardenfails #greenfingers #gardenerofthe year #growyourown #dontgrowyourown #lockdown




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