Sunday, September 28, 2014

Slow Learner

Sadly, that's me! You'd think two years living in Australia, or more correctly Queensland, would have taught me a thing or two about gardening & it's seasons here. But no.
In my defense I do know that winter is the "dry" season (even though it rained for almost 2 weeks solid when I first got here) & that Summer is the "wet" season. OK - so I'm blindly disregarding that fact that we didn't get a single substantial storm or any rain to speak of here last summer.

Somehow I have killed more plants since moving here than I had in the previous 34 years of gardening. On the flip side I have also had significantly more success with striking various cuttings. With constantly warm temperatures germinating most seeds is a walk in the park. Keeping the buggers alive once in the ground is a whole different ball game though.

But nature has a way of telling us....sometimes. The second planting of lettuces last summer simply bolted & as a result we've had fresh, garden picked oak leaf lettuces available all WINTER! Those lovely garden volunteers almost made up for having to buy tasteless store bought lettuces to eat for the rest of last summer. Of course they came up in the exact area that I wanted to try some direct composting in. Rebels!

I can't really complain though - the rest of the garden got the compost treatment so at least 3/4 of it is done in preparation for summer....but wait, most of the stuff I wanted to grow thrives over winter.
Oh, bother!

The curly leafed Parsley that just sat there wilting in the summer heat,  then seriously sulking over Autumn decided to come alive & have a Parsley party mid winter (whenever that is here - who can tell, stuff just never really stops growing) then go positively rampant in Spring.

Gardening & landscaping is big industry here....not to mention expensive. With most soils needing amending somehow before being ready to plant in the sales in  soil additives to remedy clay or sandy soil alone must be phenomenal, then there are more additives required to aid in water retention, fertilisers, plant foods, mulches & the water itself. Then you have to arm yourself for the battle of the squillion & one pests & diseases that seem to thrive here.

Many people just plant in pockets of a "quality" potting mix - but in my experience the plants do well for a while then once the roots outgrow the mix & hit the crappy soil they just become stressed & very soon start failing completely.

One of the traps I fell into was believing that because stores sold certain flower & vegetable seedlings it was the right time to plant them....or that they would survive & (hopefully) thrive here. Wrong!
While some smaller nurseries will have ethics & only sell what will grow locally - big box stores have no such qualms about stocking the shelves with the latest cultivars whether there they are suitable to the climate or not. I've learned that lesson the hard way - more than once. It can become expensive.

Then there is the incorrect labeling of plants - not something I'd normally worry too much about, except when it comes to buying, nurturing & actually managing not to kill a particular rose - a rose I bought as David Austins "Leander"...only it isn't. Lucky for that rose it's another old favourite  "Crepuscule" &, as it happens it's a good performer in warmer climates - so it gets to stay, even if it doesn't quite look or behave as I'm used to.

The trick, I am discovering, is to know your plants (although bare rooted roses can be a tad difficult to identify....) & choose where you shop wisely.
In my case it is more like take everything you thought you knew & either throw it out the window - or fast forward some seasonal tasks by 3 months, rewind others by two & turn the seasons upside down, just for good measure!
I'm still trying to get my head around why some old favourites from my temperate climate gardens will grow here & others won't - or why those that will grow here grow so differently to how I've grown them in the past. It's a learning curve, a very big one - but I'll get there...

....well, unless the Brush Turkey decides to strip another few gardens of their carefully laid mulch.
But that's a whole different story - & one for another time.


Sharon Driscoll said...

Hey Deb - I'm moving to a new climate myself. From the Northern US to the Southern and from sandy loam to red clay...I'm thinking my growing is also going to be a mess for awhile too.

I just had something creep into my garden while I was gone and ate nearly all my basil I've been working so hard on...there goes my fresh basil for winter. Probably a rabbit that like Italian cuisine. LOL

Patty said...

Thanks for sharing your trials along the learning curve Deb. I'm still learning too and I moved to California from the East Coast many years ago. I've found that my appreciation for the more easy going plants has increased, while my patience for the temperamental ones has waned. Darwin Gardens is what I call my patch of earth these days. :-)