I know there is value in an honest warts-and-all blog but I am a little embarassed about some of the perennial vegetable photographs this year (the autumn set of photos are below and you can see how they looked in spring here and summer here). There are clear signs of neglect you see. Naturally I blame my annual vegetable garden taking up all my time - perhaps oneday I'll find enough perennial vegetables to give it up all together! I think my main shortcoming has been not doing enough mulching with soil-enriching and moisture retaining compost and I've had some hungry and thirsty plants as a result and a few poorly ones too.
But it is hard to put the strange case of the patience dock down to this failing. This plant has apparently died and arisen from the dead repeatedly all year. In the summer I decided something must be grazing upon it and so I covered it with chicken wire and protected it from slugs with some iron phosphate granules. But it disappeared again only to put forth another new leaf a few weeks ago! Docks are known for being vigorous plants that gardeners struggle to eradicate. The nearby lovage, often a monster of a plant, hasn't grown as much as I expected either along with some other plants I expected to really take off including common chicory and a Crambe tatarica. I've wondered if the soil was poisoned as all these plants are growing close to the allotment boundary where a previous allotment neighbour used annual applications of weedkiller. But planted further away is my horseradish plant, another notorious toughie, and it has shown similar reluctance to realise its full potential. The troubled plants are all deep rooters and I think there is a layer of very thick clay about a foot down in this part of the allotment - an apple tree in this area languished for several years before starting to grow properly. But could that be sufficient cause for the problems of these robust plants? I remain mystified.
I'll resite some plants and apply as much compost mulch as I can this autumn. At least with perennials if you neglect them one year you have the chance to pamper them the next - and hope they forgive you!
|Mallow (Mystic Merlin)|
|New globe artichoke|
|Dwarf golden hop|
|Buck's horn plantain|