I have one word to describe this year’s crop: Disaster.
Perhaps I should have sensed it the moment I tweeted my excitement that I’d found the ‘Ruby Queen’ James Wong had recommended and he had the decency to tell me that it was not Ruby Queen and I’d been sold a pup.
I spent ages tracking the real thing down in America, persuading my US editor to receive the seed and bring it over for me. Ages carefully planting it out and nurturing it to decent sized plantlets. Ages planting it out in the monster, surrounded by pumpkins and beans to try the bloomin’ Three Sister routine. I had a few left over so I popped them in a bed recently vacated by the garlic. So far so good.
The ‘spare’ plants romped away, but the nurtured, pampered seedlings in the monster sulked like teenagers. And continued to do so for the entire season. They never reached more than a foot or so high. The beans sulked too, and the pumpkins weren’t exactly ecstatic (more about them in a different post).
The ‘spare’ corns did at least look like they were coming to term. They produced gorgeous pink silks and I had high hopes – until they were robbed, seed, kernel and husk, – either by rats, squirrels or parrots. I don’t know which varmint it was, but I got nothing. Nada. Rien.
Next year I’ll hedge my bets. One bed of something ‘British’ like Lark, one of the Ruby Queen, just in case it grows – it did look very lovely. It’s not going in the monster, which will be limed – perhaps it has too much manure. I’ll start the plants earlier so they get really big before they go out. And they will be netted to within an inch of their lives.