Sunday 19 February 2012

Some under-performers

When I first set out to be a photographing + blogging gardener I undertook to be honest about what I grew (or didn't), showing failures as well as successes. Did you see that I have signed-up to the Bloggers' Voluntary Code of Fair Practice? (Badge in my sidebar now). I believe that being over-selective with which aspects of your garden to show to the world is in a sense being dishonest. It is with this thought in mind that I offer you this post today.

A big disappointment for me this Winter has been the "Petit Posy" Flower Sprouts. I had high hopes of these - they allegedly combine the best features of Kale and Brussels Sprouts. Being billed as exceptionally Winter-hardy and producing their crop at a time when few other vegetables are available, I thought it sounded like an attractive prospect. However...  For space reasons I only have four of these plants, and two were basically "Reserves" planted much later than they should have been. But all four are a lot smaller than I had expected, and I have yet to harvest any sprouts. I haven't the heart to pick anything so small!

Viewed like this, they perhaps appear OK, but compare the size of those sprouts to the size of the supporting stake (25mm square). Not big.

Here's one in close-up. They look like loose or "blown" Brussels Sprouts, or tiny cabbages:-

I also have to report that the aphids absolutely LOVE these things, which makes me like them even less.

I suspect that I will harvest all of the Flower Sprouts in one go, and that they may (if we're really lucky) provide a single serving for the two of us - maybe stir-fried or lightly steamed.

Now look at this:

Yes, it's a Red Cabbage. You might think, looking at my photo, that it seems perfectly normal. You'd be wrong of course, because the whole thing is pathetically small - no more than 6 inches across - and this photo is a close-up. It is a "Marner Langerrot" Red Cabbage, that grew tall and spindly, but never produced a heart. Funnily enough, I have resisted digging it up because I actually quite like it, for its photogenic qualities. Those pale inner leaves are quite attractive, aren't they? This particular plant has featured in several of the "Frozen Veg" style photos I have published recently.

Next, the Hamburg Parsley. This is another one of of those veg that supposedly delivers the best of both worlds - a root vegetable similar to the parsnips, and a herb like parsley. In fact it has disappointed in both categories. The roots were small (particularly viewed in comparison to the lovely parsnips that grew right next door to them), and the herby parsley-like vegetation was a lot less vigorous than the "real" parsley. A bit of a flop all round, I would say.

Disclaimer: I accept the fact that these vegetables, grown by other people, in other conditions, at other times may have been hugely successful, but I I'm just saying that they didn't work for me.

So, what failures will you admit to then?

BTW: I hope to be able to report on some more successful enterprises before too long! :-)


  1. without failures we'd never learn who we are... and they all make a good soup anyway x

  2. Well in the summer I certainly had failures. Many of them are related to me forgetting to seed things. So my turnip crop was a failure since it never got in the ground.

  3. Failure or not, who knows what went wrong. Failures perhaps teach us more than success. Personally, I don't see it as failure. It just doesn't look like as you have expected to... that's life.
    You see, you made quite a philosopher out of me and all you did was writing a post about vegetables!

  4. You know, even if what it produced is a failure in our opinion, the joy of just planting and watching things grown and being outside, has to count for something! You are turning all of us into philosophers!

  5. Sometimes what works well one year doesn't the next because of weather conditions. This year I had hardly any beans - they were late to start because of the cold damp conditions and then just raced to set seed. Hopefully next year will be better - we normally have enough in the freezer to see us through Christmas but this year didn't even harvest enough to freeze

  6. What a shame about the flower sprouts, I had high hope for them as they sounded like something I might try myself. I never got to harvest any sprouts, they just didn't grow well enough.

  7. Most of my vegetables that I planted after the spring were failures this year. The beans and tomatoes mostly failed because of the deer but anything else that failed was because of the soil. I am already doing better this year with the raised beds and I hope it continues.

  8. Oh I have loads and loads of failures. I'm just relieved to see even the expert experienced like you have flops too.

  9. Re the Brussels/flower Sprouts...I read somewhere if you take the leaves off the stem, cut the plant off at the ground (or pull it out), bring it inside and keep it cool, the sprouts will continue to grow off the goodness of the stem, getting larger. Worth a try with one anyway.

    Also, I find the red BS's don't get nearly as big as the green ones, and variety matters me crazy but I think the red ones taste better.

  10. Failures?
    Tomatoes! Sweet Bell Peppers!
    Hopefully I learned something and will do better this year!
    Lea's Menagerie

  11. I have endless issues with coriander, except in the middle of winter. As I constantly document my tomatoes are always a source of angst but the do fruit so I wouldn't really call them failures. This year my pumpkins were a complete and utter failure - my fault entirely I planted them in the wrong spot. And iceberg lettuce I still haven't grown successfully.

  12. Pretty sure my carrots last season were a failure, but've we've hope for the next season!

  13. Something we can all relate to - failures and disappointments. Just hopefully to make you feel better - we watch Beechgrove Gardens (a sort of Scottish equivalent of gardeners world) and they grew Petit Posy sprouts and were also very disappointed by them and they are professionals. I did wonder when you said you were growing them but kept quiet and was waiting to see how they fared for you!

  14. I'm not a professional gardener & almost certainly an even worse blogger but I get your drift. From a gardening point of view anything I plant or sow that doesn't grow correctly is a failure, but if you realize why (or find out) & don't make the same mistake twice it's not really a failure. Last year I was disappointed with the amount of cucumbers produced (weather too dry +incorrect watering)Also Sprouts, I grew 12 plants from seed, no problem, 4 survived, again down to dry ground + incorrect watering, but the remaining 4 are still supplying me with good sprouts. I also know from experience that rainwater is far better than tap water for plants, almost no rain fell here during the whole growing season last year. There are too many variables in gardening to obtain 100% successful growing. P.S. my freezer is still well stocked with last years fruit & veg. I'm happy with that.

  15. Shame about the flower sprouts, I was intrigued by them, but thank you, your honesty policy means I can strike them off my wishlist! All my sprouts were a dismal failure this year, but hey, each season gives fresh opportunities for both triumphs and disasters!


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