I was out in the patch this morning moving the sprinkler, and I noted yet another lemon balm seedling.
If you have been gardening for a while, you will likely have made some mistakes. Some will be minor, some not so much. Here’s a few of mine.
Planting the wrong thing in the wrong place
Lemon balm, violets, oregano…these plants sound lovely. They are lovely. But in the wrong place, they are weedy little monsters. Even violets, which are one of my all-time favourite flowers. They were one of my grandmother’s favourites. They were Oscar Wilde’s favourite. Whenever I smell their gorgeous perfume, I think of my grandmother.
But. They grow like a weed in my back garden, to the extent that I pull them up constantly. I planted them as a ground cover, to fill in a space in my mini-meadow, not realising they would find a way to spread through the veggie patch as well.
Ditto lemon balm aka Melissa, which spreads even worse than mint, to which it is related. Every time I am in the veggie patch, I pull up a couple of lemon balm or violet seedlings. I often yank up whole plants of the damn stuff, and we still have it everywhere. I planted the lemon balm as a tea plant, and to be completely honest, we never use it.
Learn from my experience – check how invasive a plant is before you mindlessly plant it in your garden.
I love passionfruit. I love all passionfruit flavoured things, even that weird passionfruit chocolate that Cadbury just released, that my husband thinks is abominable. Love it. It’s supposed to be easy to grow, and yet I have planted five – yes FIVE – of the damn things since we moved to this property eight years ago, and still no joy. I am about to wave a white flag and put the final two out of their misery.
But have I learned my lesson?
I have not. I am currently raising more from seed in my greenhouse.
This time it will be different.
Our lawn, or more properly, the weed patch, is one of the banes of our garden. We should have done something to properly treat the broad leaf weeds and clover that were already invading it when we moved in.
We did not.
We should have acted on our intention to solarise the entire lawn, remove it, and replant it with a herb lawn or even a new hardy lawn variety.
We did not.
Instead, my husband goes out every few weeks and dutifully mows the weed patch so it looks barely passable, and another year goes by with me regretting its existence.
The Mulberry tree
When we moved in, we had to remove a dangerous gum tree and a date palm planted right up to the footings of our house. We considered what to replace these trees with, and decided on an apricot tree and a black mulberry tree. I had memories of a friend’s mulberry tree from when I was a kid – it was huge and covered with juicy mulberries in the Summer. We had great fun climbing it – we would sit up in the tree and eat mulberries until our bellies ached. I thought my kids would love to climb it and pick mulberries.
Well, my kids are adults now, and the tree has barely produced more than a handful of dry, sour mulberries each season. It takes up a lot of space in our front yard, and I swear if it does not produce any fruit this year it will produce lovely warmth from our fireplace next Winter. I’ll replace it with a peach tree or something else useful.
What are your gardening regrets? Let me know in the comments!
What to do in the garden with the time you have this week
If you have one hour…check for critters.
I tend not to worry about critters in my garden much. Critters live in the garden and that is fine by me. However, there are some that love to destroy plants, and these are not really ok. Aphids and white fly are my current nemeses. I check my seedlings every couple of days for white fly and aphids, which are starting to ramp up now that the weather is warming up. If I find aphids on my seedlings, I gently scrape them off with my fingernail and give them a little squish. On plants like roses, you can hose them off. For white fly, I have yellow sticky traps in certain spots in my greenhouse. I’m hoping that this diligence will pay off and I won’t need to take more drastic measures later in the season.
If you have 2-3 hour…keep on weeding
This time of year is Goldilocks time for weeds – not too hot, not too cold. I spent a couple of hours this morning weeding. It’s not the most fun time in the garden, but it is very satisfying. My husband joined me, and we really made a difference out there in a short time.
For the rest of the week…water!
It’s going to be a warm week, so the first thing you should be doing is watering your plants – especially if you have plants in pots.
So, my main suggestion is that if you have any spare time, keep your plants alive! The weather will fluctuate between 20-30 degrees in Adelaide. Plants in pots dry out very quickly in warm weather, and once they do, it is hard for them to draw up water. Plants have the big roots we see when we plant them out, but they also have tiny, hairlike roots that can die off when the plant dries out. These roots are like our capillaries, drawing nutrition and water to the main roots – they are important to keeping plants healthy.
Take care of recently planted seeds and seedlings in particular – once they dry out, it can be difficult to recover them. If your little seedlings are wilted, it is past time to give them a drink. And if you are fortunate enough to have a greenhouse, you may need to water more often.
Of course, there is such a thing as overwatering as well! Check your plant soil with the tip of your finger. If your finger comes back dirty, the soil is damp and will be ok for now.