Sown Alone

Everything in our lives can be divided into my new traffic light system. It’s a simple to follow scheme and one that applies to everything in our lives.

It goes like this. Green means ‘easy’, amber is ‘great results with a little effort’ and red is ‘high maintenance, lots of input and unpredictable results’.

red-lightFor example, some cars breakdown incessantly, develop faults overnight, are devils to get started and stop but my, oh, my, how good do they look? That has to be a red.

green-lightYou may work with someone who, once they get a brief for a project, gets his or her head down and ploughs on, delivering results even when the boss has forgotten about the whole thing in the first place. Green.

amber-lightWhat about your friends? They may need a shoulder to cry on from time to time, may need to download their current concern over a relationship or even need a cheeky tenner to see them to pay day - but they are there when you need a shoulder, you have something to get off your chest and a few quid would ease things a bit. Amber. Definitely amber. And so it goes with plants.

I’ve recently harvested some carrots. No great shakes there but the seed, which came from last year’s packet, was sown in a piece of spare soil quite late in the growing season, quietly ignored, at no time netted against carrot fly, never watered and now producing beautifully straight and tasty roots. The best I’ve ever grown. They were sown and left alone. Green. Not the carrots themselves as they are vibrant orange, but definitely Green.

rosesThen there are my roses. I am beginning to have sleepless nights. They were planted four years ago into intensely prepared soil containing all the pre-requisite ingredients for 100% success. Or so I mistakenly thought. Yes, they have grown; yes, they have flowered; but it’s also a yes to falling victim to every bug and spore doing the rounds. I have fussed with their feed, pampered them with perfect pruning and cosseted them with every available concoction to kill or ward off rust, blackspot, greenfly, blackfly, rather robust and slightly intimidating pinky coloured aphids along with voracious sawfly, leaf cutters and rapacious rollers. Did I mention sudden and unexplained rose dieback? Yep, had that as well. But I will persist with this variety which is most certainly a category Red.

crocosmiaAmber plants in my own garden are headed up by crocosmia. Sure, they grow like weeds when released into suitable soil, but I expect mine to look great and bloom themselves dizzy whilst growing in large containers. So, the input I need to make is watering during any dry spells. The output is masses of brilliant blooms on long flowering spikes in mid to late summer. It’s a fair trade off. A definite red flowering, green leafed Amber category plant.

lightsBut thinking about it, maybe everyone's traffic light system is peculiar to them.

My red may be your green. Your green might be someone else's amber. Their amber could possibly be  - oh, you get the idea. Many people plant a rose and sit back and do nothing. And then watch as the blooms come rolling in. There are also rose varieties that cause no problems whereas other, eg mine, are demons for attracting the bad guys. I may breeze through carrot growing whereas you could be currently sobbing into roots drilled by carrot fly and stunted by stones. No one should ignore crocosmia.

But just as patiently waiting for all the traffic lights to turn green on a planned journey will only result in permanent inertia, we should take a chance and plant a mix of red, amber and green category plants. It will certainly keep you on your gardening toes.