The Cottage Smallholder

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The mystery plant is revealed in all its glory

Visual preview for tomorow's post

Visual preview for tomorow's post

Danny is puffed out with pride. He reckoned that the mystery giant curly leaved plant was a dock and he was right. And I’ve learnt a good lesson too – however much that you know there will always be learning curves with everything. Actually I don’t know very much at all so my learning curves are pretty constant however much I research a plant or project!

That’s supposed to be one of the fun elements of gardening. I must admit that I was a bit miffed this morning when D had clearly identified an intruder. He has no interest in gardening. I lay in bed, considered the situation and realised that it was a good thing that D had ‘won’. Suddenly he’s more interested in the garden and this evening we actually discussed the future of a border that I was renovating. Much more fun than just deciding its future alone.

After a lavish brunch of CFC smoked salmon and scrambled eggs donated this morning by our hens (just the eggs) I stepped into the garden to investigate the mystery plant.
Have you ever chomped docks? I only sampled a teeny tiny bit of a ‘normal’ dock before I approached the Giant Intruder.

Both were bitter and rather nasty. Then I tasted a sample from the Intruder. It was exactly the same. It had massive slug damage on the lower leaves so it appears that it’s a delicacy for them. Slugs don’t feast on our normal dock weeds so this might be a reason for nurturing this plant.

Then I stalked down to our horse radish plants. They live in a pot. Much smaller leaves and lots of slug damage on them too. The first nibble was a similar flavour to the docks but after about 30 seconds the heat kicked in.

So with all your help I reckon that this plant is Broad dock Rumex obtusifolius – first noted by Victoria Logue on Twitter
 and then backed up by Celia (Magic Cochin)  but all the suggestions led me into a myriad of other plants for the garden that I had never known about. So thank you everyone for all your comments – on the site and on Twitter. This is what I love about the Internet. Within seconds you can share problems and get ideas and solutions.

We do have another question. On TV we saw a lady pour Coca Cola down her loo. Not to give it a thirst quenching fillip but to clean it. She had amazing results. We now have a dark brown stain that’s impossible to remove. New post tomorrow with the history…

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  1. Julia

    I have giant docks in my garden too (a disused veg patch) and I was excited that they may be horseradish. Then my neighbour said that they must be beetroots as that is what the previous owner of the house always used to grow. I tried digging one up but it was too much for me so my husband managed to hoick it out. Alas, it was only a dock and it broke the garden fork! Unfortunately there are another 3 to dig up. Just as well it’s not raining…

  2. Exactly the same thing happened to me with the cola in the loo. It just stained the limescale brown. :o(

    We live in a very hard water area, and it couldn’t budge it at all.

    The only non-lethal-chemical solutions to our limescale have been:
    a) buy a very expensive water softener
    b) put powdered citric acid down the loo and leave it for a few hours before scrubbing. Excellent result, but pricey. Try getting it from an Asian grocery where it tends to be cheaper than from a chemist or grocer/homebrew shop
    c) Use vinegar, as other commenters have said. Even brown malt vinegar will work, whatever you can buy in bulk, just make sure it is vinegar and not non-brewed condiment…
    For the best result either push all the water down the pan with a brush, top up with vinegar and leave as before, or even better, if you can lift the lid off the cistern, flush with the lid off and hold up the ballcock to prevent the cistern from refilling. Get Danny to pour in vinegar until it’s at normal water level. Leave loo without flushing for as long as possible, then leave in pan for as long as possible, scrubbing occasionally.

    People do rave about pumice stones, and apparently they don’t scratch if they’re wet, but I haven’t been brave enough to try!

    Good luck!

  3. The stain could be that you have alot of limescale and its stained that and not removed it or maybe you just not got any surface on the base of your loo…. vinegar sounds good but I’d also try half a pot of bicarb to see if it lifts the stain if its ‘soaked’ into the pottery.

  4. Yes, Coca Cola is good for cleaning loos and for metal buttons too.
    Makes you wonder what it does to the stomachs of those who drink the stuff.

  5. coke might do it. but do make sure its the full sugar version, not diet, and i wouldn’t bother with the expensive stuff. go for the elcheapo brands. as long as its got the phosphoric acid in, it should be fine. If it doesn’t work though, i back up what someone else said about white vinegar. just don’t use it together with bleach at the same time….! White vinegar is great for cleaning things, period – i always have a bottle in the house, mix it with something like stardrops (1 part stardrops, 1 part white vinegar, 1 part water) and you have a really godo basic cleaner that brings things up sparkly well. Its also good as a fabric softener – better for your washing machine as well. I’ve read somewhere that plumbers/washing machine repairmen actually recommend putting a cupful of white vinegar in the machine every so often and running an empty machine, just to clear out the pipes of nasty stuff. I suppose it would work for dishwashers as well. 🙂 fab stuff. I love it!

  6. casalba

    Great comments on this post – I once successfully descaled a kettle using coca cola – but otherwise, I’d chuck it down the loo, too.

    And, what an informed response from Cathy! Having just spent the morning digging up cuckoo pint, I wondered whether anyone knew a remedy for this. I have removed those which grow amongst the wild rocket by hand, but all their aunts, uncles, cousins and even friends are having a party on a steep bank which I can’t even bring myself to look at!

    I wouldn’t bother, but I’m certain that this is the cause of a skin allery one of our dogs has which always seems to start at this time of the year and only on his stomach where his fur is thinner.

  7. I haven’t been able to respond to your posts for awhile even though I’ve tried. I’m using a different browser right now and hope it will work.

    We have a lot of dock in certain areas, too. I use the root medicinally (decoctions with dandelion) to help boost the immune system and assist the liver. The hens like the leaves. Mostly, I make a game out of pulling it out. The biggest intact root gets put on display in the garden until it decays. If I pull up a bigger one, the challenger gets the special spot.

    For me, though, I use dock more as a friendly signal about soil culture. Dock wants to grow in dense, clay-heavy soil. Why not perk up the soil in your flower beds with vermiculite? Don’t use sand. It’s too heavy. The dock is telling you how to ammend your soil. Listen to it, and then pull it out and make tea with it for your body or your compost pile.

    You’ll see a difference. As your soil improves, it will come up, but it will come up much smaller, easier to remove. As you continue to work on your soil, you will see it less and less.

    Bless its heart. It wants to help you dig up your clay-heavy soil. Have patience for it and honor it.

  8. The phosphoric acid in the Coke ought to clean just about anything.

    Phosphoric acid has been proven to leach calcium out of bones, so I quit drinking colas years ago. But I’d sure throw one in the toilet!

  9. We used to use Coca cola on dessert sand roses, sharpened up the edges and stained them up beautifully.

    Have you tried white vinegar to get rid of the stain?

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