As every gardener knows things don’t always work out as we plan. Among the things I planned for this summer were:
- a selection of root vegetables from saved seeds scattered in one patch
- a selection of grains (quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat) from purchased seeds in another patch
- a row of beautiful tall sunflowers at the back of a border
Sadly none of these are working out as I hoped. Very few of the root vegetable seeds germinated and even fewer of the grains (just three plants). Some of the vegetable seeds may have been too old, though most were only saved last year; whilst some of the grain seeds were definitely past their ideal sowing dates.
However I am mostly blaming two pheasants (escapees from the neighbouring woods where their brothers and sisters are shot in massive numbers) who spend a lot of time grazing the garden. I hadn’t seen them for months before I scattered the seeds but they soon turned up afterwards. My attitude to problems – like pheasants – in the garden is to take minimal action and to try to live with them. Not that I could do anything about the pheasants anyway, they can either walk in along the drive or fly over the hedge.
There is a scattering of salsify that have germinated in the root vegetable patch with some self sown flowers so it is not completely bare and at the moment I am just leaving it to see what happens.
Plan B in the grain patch has just been to plant some yacon plants I had ordered, a squash I found at a plant stall, plus runner beans, beetroot and chillies that I have been given. Some oca and Jerusalem artichoke have also come up from last year. These plants will fill it quite soon I think.
I planted nearly 60 sunflower seeds in modules to (hopefully) ensure they germinated and grew into successful plants as I have never had much success sowing them direct in the garden. Many did indeed germinate and then had their first two leaves eaten meaning they would not grow any further. I eventually found a tiny slug that had hidden in a corner of the plastic moulding which was responsible.
Plan B was to sow some more sunflowers in a pot and keep it where the slugs could not get. However something came and nibbled them whilst I was away earlier this week. I am hoping the part nibbled sunflowers from both batches will eventually grow into full sized plants. The border (pictured below) they are destined for has filled up a lot at the back anyway with evening primrose, yarrow, carrot, calendula, elecampane and wild rocket and some alliums; but I will squash in any sunflowers that do grow.
If all else fails I will plant some field beans in the root vegetable patch and the ‘would be’ grain patch. They are one of the most durable and reliable plants I know and can be sown just about any time of year. If I get them in soon they will crop this year and if they are growing densely together perhaps I can sow some of my desired seeds between them and out of reach of the pheasants.