Guest post by Penny Haslam, host of “My Garden Podcast” (https://gardenpodcast.co.uk) from Cheshire, England.
Sept. 20, 2020
My favourite cat Jasper died recently. He was a greedy, squirrel murdering arrogant f*cker, but I loved him. We found him stiff as a board one morning under my desk. So of course, we decided to dig a hole in the lawn and shove him in (carefully lay him to rest).
This summer we decided to place a flower bed on top of him. I won’t lie, it’s been a challenge to not to exhume Jasper while building his memorial bed. This patch of the garden has mostly been filled with plants borrowed from other corners, but I did find a packet of Nicotiana seeds lying about in the shed and thought f*ck it! Let’s give these a try.
I don’t know a lot about Nicotiana and, to be honest, I still struggle to pronounce it. “Nico-teen-ana, Nico-she-ana,” I don’t know! The packet says it’ll grow to around five feet tall with flute-like flowers. For my gardening style, that’s all the detail I need.
The results initially were underwhelming. About six weeks on I had plants the size of lettuce, no sign of flowers but lots of broad greasy leaves that stank like cigarettes. At this point, I read the seed packet again and realised Nicotiana is flowering tobacco. I thought I won’t bother with these again.
That’s until a chance encounter with another gardener at my father-in-law’s 80th birthday party (I know, rock and roll lifestyle). This friend of a friend had been doing an online gardening qualification, we got talking and she suggested using Tomorite on my Nicotiana to get them flowering. I don’t know if you are familiar with this product. Here in the UK, it’s a popular tomato plant feed but apparently, you can use it to encourage all sorts of flowering. It’s like crack for plants. I was sceptical but gave it a go.
Holy sh*t! Have you seen that movie, Day of the Triffids? Within a matter of days, the Nicotiana exploded into a flowering alien beast. It’s taken over the whole bed and producing hundreds of flute-like vivid white flowers. It’s also showing no signs of stopping as we head into the autumn (fall) here in England.
So, I’ve decided I quite like Nicotiana. I still can’t pronounce it and it still stinks but I’ll be growing it again next year. Jasper would be proud.
To check out more from Penny and Steve at “My Garden Podcast,” go to https://gardenpodcast.co.uk and follow them on Twitter (@podcast_garden)!