I REALLY shouldn't watch Gardeners' World on TV. Bad things happen in my garden when I do. I don't mean to imply that there is anything wrong with the things that Monty Don gets up to in his televised garden.
And, to be fair, anyone who calls his dog Nigel can't be all bad.
But bad things happen after I have watched Gardeners' World.
I have never been much of a gardener. I can cut the grass and tidy up after myself, but that's about as far as it goes.
I often read the gardening column in this newspaper, thinking it will inspire me to do great things.
There will be one a few pages on in this very edition, or a few clicks away on this website, if that's how you are consuming your Herald Express today. I sympathise with our gardening correspondent for the damage the damp soil is doing to her garlic and shallots, for instance.
But it's just something I can't seem to get the hang of.
On Saturday, having watched Gardeners' World the previous evening during a brief hiatus in programmes about bicycle racing, we set out for our local garden centre.
The very helpful chap there sold us a crocosmia, which is a plant which is apparently native to the grasslands of South Africa, but should do very nicely thank you in a Paignton garden. He also sold us some chrysanthemums, some spearmint to go alongside the crocosmia to give depth and variety, and some handsome pots in which we could develop the aforementioned depth and variety.
For an hour or so when we got home, I was transformed into Monty Don himself, to the extent that I started referring to Ernie the Jack Russell as 'Nigel'. I considered acquiring a baggy shirt and some braces.
I dug my hands deep into the compost and packed it around the delicate roots and stems of my new best friend from South Africa, and I helped Mrs H press the chrysanthemums into the reddish clay of our back garden.
I arranged the new pots in a pleasing formation around the edges of the decking and stood with my mud-caked hands on my hips in a Monty Don kind of a way, declaring this a job well done. It had depth, it had variety, it had South African plants and spearmint.
I had communed with nature, conquered the unyielding soil and created new life.
Then it was time to go to the football, and I stopped being Monty Don again.
This is my problem. I never stick at gardening.
Mrs H is forever tidying up and finishing off the things I start. Worse still, sometimes I never start things at all, just talk about how nice they would be if only I had the time/money/inclination to make them happen.
Sometimes I take the line of least resistance and ask someone to come in and do things for me.
Don't judge me for it. I figure it is better to do that than to spend the next few weeks/months/years looking at my own bodged job and wishing I had asked someone clever and professional to come in and do it properly for me.
In fact, I really should have done that with the vegetable plot.
It had seemed like such a good idea at the time. I had probably been watching Gardeners' World again, and I thought it would be a terrific idea to dig out a patch of garden in which we could grow our own vegetables.
After all, we had become vegetarians by then, and it would be like growing all our own food in one place.
So I dug out a square of garden and began planting things in it. The birds came and stole them. So I planted some more things in it. The birds came and stole them as well. The third time of asking, I rigged up some netting over the square, and the birds couldn't get in to steal them.
There were carrots in there, and lettuces, and all sorts of wholesome vegetables. I sowed lots of potatoes, having double dug the soil to make sure it was right for them.
For a while I was like Tom Good in The Good Life, pushing things into the ground to grow them, then hacking them out again to eat them. Would we get away with having a goat in the back garden? Or a pig?
But then there must have been some football or some bicycle racing happening, because I took my eye off the vegetable patch and the bad things started happening again.
Creepy crawlies got in underneath the netting and started eating my fresh veg before I had the chance to, and my carrots gave up the unequal struggle against the tough soil and grew only to a stubby couple of inches in length.
The final straw came when I went to harvest my potato crop at the end of the first growing season. I had put a lot of effort into these spuds, and I was hoping to be carting them off by the truckload.
I might even have been contemplating setting up a farm shop in the front garden to help get rid of my abundant produce.
The results were frankly disappointing.
I dutifully dug out the spuds with a fork, being careful not to damage any of them with the sharp tines. Then I transferred them into a large bag I had prepared for just this purpose.
After half-an-hour of digging and frantic searching beneath the soil I barely had enough potatoes for a decent boil-up.
We duly did boil them up and very nice they were, garnished with butter and black pepper, but there wasn't enough for the farm shop to go into business and I guess there never will be.