Do you have a garden, plant one, and how successful are you? Do you prefer to grow in pots? Green fingers are not a talent I possess, and I can’t say gardening is something I enjoy. My only really successful crops over the years have been tomatoes. There were plenty of them, and as the song says, we were able to share them with our neighbours.

The lds church promotes gardening as a way of increasing self-reliance, and it was emphasised a lot during the 70s. Today there’s an online gospel topics page devoted to gardening.

Growing up, my parents took the injunction to plant a garden seriously. Successes varied year on year, but like me one of their successes was generally tomatoes. Other successes I particularly remember were runner beans and winter lettuce. I loved the winter lettuce, and as it was fairly fast-growing, it could be sown several times throughout the season. There would always be some ready to cut until one evening when somebody failed to close the greenhouse door, and frost killed the lot. A memorable failure was the onions: little larger on excavation than they had been when planted.

It’s a topic that comes to mind at the moment because we’ve had a particularly long, cold winter this year. Not cold enough for a lot of snow, at least not in my part of Britain, but the kind of damp cold that seeps into your bones. This past week or so has been much warmer. I’ve mown the lawn, and am eyeing the beds with a sigh. Our current home does not have a large garden. But it is enough work for me, with my very non-green fingers. I need to be cutting back the buddleia, and forsythia before it’s too late. And yet again, I sigh over the preponderance of ground elder, already flourishing.

For a few years after we moved in I tried to root out the ground elder. A mistake. Any little bit of root left behind spawns a whole new plant. We’ve tried poisoning it. It’s too resistant. We were told it doesn’t like rhubarb, and gifted a rhubarb plant. And it’s true that where we have the rhubarb, the ground elder doesn’t grow. Still, there is only so much rhubarb we can eat, and a garden full of rhubarb instead of ground elder isn’t really that much of an improvement. The ground elder and I have had to come to an accommodation of sorts. Short of digging out and replacing our topsoil it won’t be leaving. As I’m very fond of the other plants around whose roots the ground elder roots are undoubtedly entangled, I’m trying to look at the positives.

Apparently the stuff is edible, and was imported by the Romans as a hardy green. Thanks Romans. That’s a long time for a non-native plant to still be causing problems. So this year I’m going to try this advice, and include fresh ground elder shoots in my stir fries and pasta dishes. There’ll be more than enough for the neighbours too, though I doubt they’ll be joining me. It’s obviously the ideal, easy-to-grow crop for a gardener with fingers the colour of mine. I don’t think I’ll be including nettles though.

  • Do you have a garden, and if so what are your plans this year?
  • Do you enjoy gardening, why or why not?
  • What are your most successful crops?
  • How do you tackle invasive weeds?