Sometimes on the way to your dream,

you get lost and find a better one.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

there's life in that vine yet

My pot plants haven't done well this season. Things started out okay, I began with clean tubs, new potting mix, but my seeds were old.
Very old.
In spite of that, quite a lot of them germinated, particularly tomatoes.
Of course it would be the tomatoes....I eat so few of them, it's cheaper to buy a couple when i want them.
Lettuces came up....and died. More were planted. They came up.....and died.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Who needs lettuce anyway?

One capsicum seedling grew, (after three others had died); two miniature rockmelons, out of the four that germinated. Both developed flowers which died in the heatwave, although the plants survived.
Damn heatwave!

I moved all the pots around to the side of the house where they could get a little shade from the trees, but the air temperature was still way too hot.
I have two surviving tomato plants which are nothing more than stalks with a few leaves.
The capsicum is still hanging in there, about two feet tall, just a single stem, three leaves right near the top, nothing else.

Even the beans have died. I only planted three and got a few beans to eat before the heat killed them off.
But at least I know the bean seeds will grow, so I'll plant more in May and have beans for winter meals.

I decided to stop watering .
I'd let everything die off, then clean out the pots, disinfect them, get them ready for planting bulbs in.

For the first time in my life, I've ordered spring flowering bulbs.
With no garden to plant them in.
Hmmm, what was I thinking? No garden.....but I see Elephant Child's garden so often with all its bulbs blooming..........
So....pots. I'll be purchasing several wide bowl shaped pots too, I'll be filling those with freesias.
50 of them.
50 freesias not 50 pots......
Some of these will be on the front porch, some around the side and I'll place a few pots out in the garden and hope the ants don't get into them too much.
I swear I have half of Australia's ant population out there!

Yesterday, I decided it was time to pull out the non-productive tomatoes, capsicum etc. Out I went with gloves on and a cardboard box for the plants.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this.....

A tiny, baby, miniature rockmelon!!
I gave it some water immediately and now I'm hoping it will keep growing. It's full size will be about the same as a tennis ball. Right now it's about ping pong ball size.

 And there's this!   See the stem swelling right behind the flower? Possibly another melon, we'll have to wait and see if it develops.

I emptied all the other pots.....the washing and disinfecting will happen on the weekend. Maybe.
There's plenty of time, the bulbs were only ordered last week.
As well as freesias, I have ordered sparaxis,  grape hyacinth, bluebells, triteleia, ranunculus and ixia.  It was a pre-selected package deal in a magazine.
I know that regular hyacinth is too strongly scented, so I'm hoping the grape hyacinth will be okay.
If not, they'll be put out into the garden where I can't smell them.
And I have to buy a few other things too.
Blood&Bone, Dynamic Lifter, extra potting mix, a large plastic rubbish bin to mix the potting mix and fertilisers before filling the new pots.

I'll get all those things at the same time I buy pots, then I can have it all delivered.


  1. You are a hopeful gardener.

  2. Grape hyacinths should be fine. They certainly don't have the overpowering scent of their bigger cousins.
    Exciting times ahead. And I hope they thrive and reward you as they should.
    Love your teeeny melon. The rain and the cooler weather working their magic.
    And our garden also suffered (badly) this year.

  3. I loved reading this post, River. This is reality gardening and I think all those gardening magazines and TV programmes would do well if they told the truth every once in a while. I have gardening moments like yours, as well.

  4. I'll be keen to watch your progress River - I am a HOPELESS gardener!

  5. I love tomatoes...and they're so good for you; even more so cooked. I buried a some mini-Roma tomatoes and some cherry toms and little seedlings have come up, so when they get a bit larger, I'll separated them. I hope they don't fret!

    I planted a garlic clove that had started to shoot...and it's shooting further...I'm ducking for cover every time I go outside. And I've schallots and parsley doing well...all of the above are rowing in pots.

  6. A rockmelon wow I never got the vine to grow but Drumstick does love rockmelon seeds.
    A few pots full of those wonderful smelling flowers would be wonderful.

  7. Your story sounds very much like gardening effort last year. This year, so far - so good. Well, mostly good. I haven't figured out cucumbers. All my plants died last year from too much rain (I think) and they have already died this year. I just planted 18 days ago. Yikes.

  8. Pretty little finds. Perhaps gardening is all about next year, and the best we've done about it.

  9. Quite a few people I know have said their gardens suffered this year.
    You couldn't find a better example than EC when it comes to bulbs.
    Her garden is a wonderful incentive, and she'll have great advice.
    I really like the idea of wide freesia filled pots. Delicious scent.
    Very best of gardeners luck, River.

  10. River
    I guess it might be true that having fresh seed is necessary, although I've used old seed too, at times. I would prob have had bigger and healthier plants if I'd used new seed.
    When you first said...... your pot plants, I thought you meant marijuana. I was wondering if it was leagal in Australia. If it were legal, I'd grow it because it's so healing for many diseases. Then you don't smoke it but make the oil from it.

  11. Will look forward to the pot bulbs, as EC said, grape hyacinths should be fine but they do flop a bit, at least up here. Off to check out some names on the rest of your list....

  12. Delores; I'm a glass half full kind of person.

    Elephant's Child; good to hear the grape hyacinths don't smell as strongly, I can leave them closer to enjoy them. That heat waves did a lot of damage for sure.

    Molly; the trouble with gardening magazines is they publish results achieved in perfect conditions.Out here that mostly means gardens featured are from the south eastern states of Australia. I live in the middle, South Australia, the driest of the states with dry clay soil.

    Rose~from OZ; plant beans, they'll grow for anybody.

    Lee; they should do well now that the main heat has passed. I have garlic going too, I should check on it. I've grown parsley in the past and dried it to use, I still have quite a lot left, so won't plant any just yet.

    Merle; start a rockmelon inside where drumstick can't get to it. I'm looking forward to pots of bright colour.

    Robin; I've never managed to grow a cucumber in my life although I keep trying. Zucchinis, on the other hand...I had so many I was giving them to the whole family one year. You may have fungal diseases in your soil. are the stems rotting at ground level?

    Joanne; gardening is very much a hit and miss affair for me. Trying is all I can do most years.

    Vicki; the whole of Australia suffered I'm sure. The freesias will be on the front porch where I can see and smell them often.

    Manzanita; fresh seed is probably ideal, but I have old packets of heritage varieties and miniature varieties that I'd like to keep going if I can. Marijuana is not legal here, which doesn't stop people from using/abusing it, but I will never grow any. I've seen what it has done to my son and his family.

    Gillie; I'll definitely post photos of whatever grows, I'll keep an eye out for any floppy grape hyacinths. I've never heard of that before.

  13. What a wonderful iscovery, a teeeny melon and perhaps a second one too. Hope that nearly 37ºC didn't hurt it during the week.
    Phil has strived to get vegies growing too but our prolonged summer and 4 months without rain hasn't helped. He was putting shadecloth over the raised garden beds each day and tried to keep them watered. We do have a huge zucchini plant doing well and also green beans and I think there's something else too. Funny thing is the two tubs of herbs are doing really well so perhaps they like heat.
    I had Spanish bluebells in a bed for years and now they've just disappeared. They didn't have any scent but the freesias do don't they? Perhaps the coloured ones not so much as the old type freesias?
    I wish you well with all the garden work you have planned and of course we look forward to pictures, eventually.

  14. The biggest problem with pots in our climate is the heat of our weather on the pots themselves. They get so hot the poor plants cant grow roots and wither or simply dont thrive. I always try to keep the pots shaded, thus cooling the root zone. My tiny garden is doing well but in the confines close to the front door it's getting too crowed out there, any further out into the sun and all the plants die so they remain grouped close together in the shade of house and a good tree.

  15. I love your baby rockmelon and I hope it grows into a luscious big melon.

    I'm excited about your bulbs - I never really grew them in Adelaide (I think I tried daffodils once and they never came up) - we had a bit of a cottage style garden in front where it faced south and lawn, fruit trees, a veggie patch, herb garden and a swimming pool with a sort of formal Italian garden out the back. But here bulbs are really, really popular so I've gotten the bug as well, inspired by EC.

    Heat is such a killer. I remember really hot summers where I watered frantically, put shade cloth over plants and still had tomatoes cooking on the vine. And plant growing is very much trial and error - often many errors before success comes.

    My problem these days is the opposite - chill. With waiting for the permafrost to melt, the need to measure soil temperature, putting frost protective covers over plants and trying to get things to germinate and fruit in a very short growing season, I'm still struggling. And things like tomatoes are unthinkable here without a glasshouse :( Still, I grow stuff that is suitable for the climate and try out a few that are not (going for Crystal Apple Cucumbers this year) and hope for the best.

  16. blood and bone???? What a fantastic post, I love that your rock melon surprised you and that you have two scrawny tomato plants...more than me, it seems I'm a whiz at growing Aloe Vera though lol.

  17. Mimsie; the melon survived that last hot day, but everything else has been mercilessly ripped out of its pot. I'll be cleaning them up ready for bulbs. Herbs do well in the heat and zucchinis and beans will grow just about anywhere. Perhaps Phil will have more luck now the main heat has passed. There is still time to get a crop before winter if he plants now.

    Kymbo; yes, I probably should have moved them off the front porch sooner, but the air temperature even under the shade was way too hot with the heat bouncing off the wall right beside them.

    Marie; it won't be a big melon it is a miniature variety so will only grow as big as a tennis ball. I had fruit from these seeds several years ago, so sweet and juicy and eaten in one go. You were lucky to have a south facing garden, no extreme afternoon glare there, my front faces north and west, it's like stepping into an oven every time I go out the front door in summer. The backyard is a bitumen area with the washing lines and rubbish bins for the eight flats. So I'll be crowding pots of bulbs along the side where the trees offer a little shade as well as a few on the tiny porch and a couple in the garden.

    The Wicked Writer; blood & Bone is a fertiliser in powder form, good for bulbs and roses, which is why rose bushes grow so well in cemeteries, ha ha. The tomato plants are gone now.They were never going to produce anything after all this time.

  18. My dog LOVES blood and bone. It's called "benmjöl" here (literally "bone flour") and every time I plant anything and add a little to give it a head start, that pesky little dog comes behind me to dig it up and get at the wonderful smell.

    North facing front door? Poor you! We had a big shady verandah facing that way, plus a leafy avocado tree and a golden elm to provide shade.

  19. Marie; yes, no shade for me. That's why I bought an awning for the front window. And my lovely brother helped out with aircon.