If only gardens could be perfect. Flowers would bloom all the time giving the garden and abundance of great colours. All vegetables would be perenial, grow in any amount of shade or light and fruit generously. There would be no wilting, no spotting, no blistering, no moulding and no bad bugs, just those of the beneficial kind. It would be a veritable Eden in everyone's backyard, front yard, balcony or rooftop paradise. But alas this land only exists in my mind. At least it did the other night when I had a dream about this magical land of very large tomatoes and multicoloured pumpkins. Perhaps it was the late night cider drinking and cheese eating that caused such a vivid dream, who knows. However I know what has brought on this craving for a perfect hassle free garden, it is three things.
1. Wilt. The poor tomatoes are all wilting. I think it is a bacterial wilt and have done all I can to stop it. I am not willing at present to pull out the last remaining plants just in case I can ripen the fruit in time. It is a sort of race, as the wilt wanders up the stem the fruits get bigger and bigger. If the wilt reaches them they are toast, but if they can just get sizeable and colour up them presto they will one day make it to my salad. Once it gets beyond help I will pull them, ditch the soil, scour the pot and the balcony area. I did this once when pulling the last lot of tomatoes. Maybe it will help. How did it get into my garden in the first place though?
2. Aphids. I am trying to grow purple sprouting broccoli from seed, the first time I have done such a thing. Tomatoes from seed are one thing but Mr Broccoli is fickle. He sprouted, albeit a little slowly and I put him out in individual pots. Then the aphids hit. I only noticed it this morning when looking at the two I have safely inside versus the two outside. The ones outside were looking awfully knobbly, were they growing oddly? Nope, it was aphids. Being such little seedlings I wouldn't spray them, even with organic low dose stuff, so I squished every aphid by hand, well all the aphids I could see. I'll do the same tonight and tomorrow and so on until the little pests are gone, or until a mob of ladybirds takes up residence on the balcony. I thought they were just a spring problem, but no, autumn too brings the little green menace back. At least the intense summer heat killed off the spider mites.
3. Seeds that just wont germinate. The seed packet said they were in date, well in date, by a couple of years. I planted out a couple of siberian tomato seeds, hoping to grow them in our warm window this winter. I also sowed a couple of padron pepper seeds, for inside purposes and just out of curiosity. A week went by, usually they would popping out of the soil by now. Nothing, two weeks, nothing, it is three weeks now and I've all but given up. They just didn't sprout. I put about 4 of each in the punnets and in the past my hit rates have been high, very high. But out of the 8 or 9 seeds, NOTHING! Other seeds are germinating in the balcony garden, but I only have one other set from this seller, some bush beans. They were only planted last week so I'll give it time. I also tried again with the tomatoes, round two, let's see if anything happens this time!
So I guess this post was a bit of a veiled whinge. Perfect gardens would be so nice. No pests to worry about and no heartache when things go wilt and die. Then again there would be no challenges, no irregularities of the good kind and no mystery. Perfect gardens would be, well, boring! So maybe the balcony garden, with all its idiosyncracies is fine just the way it is. My Bridgit Jones Garden.