Through sickness and in health

Most people who enjoy gardening are very familiar with the feeling of excitement and anticipation of watching a plant prosper and thrive. Watching a new tranche of seeds poke out of the earth, or seeing a plant you have bought settle down and get to work is immensely satisfying. For me, that is one the great joys of gardening.

Unfortunately, the anticipation we experience is heightened by the possibility that our efforts will fail – that whatever we have carefully planted or whatever seed we have planted to exact specifications in ideal conditions will fail.

I have planted seeds, only to watch pots of blank soil continue to be blank over weeks, with the first flush of anticipation turning to impatience, and then ebbing away into resignation. I have watched healthy new plants fresh from the plant shop wither and die over days (not only disappointing, but expensive too!). I have also just outright killed plants through my own incompetence, or ignored problems until they caused irreversible damage. An example of this is when I planted my marigold tube stock too close together because I thought it looked nice (and it did) only for my actions to create a little humid wonderland between the plants for harmful pests to enjoy.

The beginning of the end for my first chunk of marigolds –  they are starting to sag away from each other, and their leaves have little white spots on them from some kind of pest. I planted them too close together.

This week has been particularly disillusioning, as a few plants have had a bad reaction to the recent wet, and I have had a few notable casualties as a result of the general possum problem in our part of Sydney.

This morning, instead of skipping out into the garden and casting my eye over what has been growing through the week, I trudged out and witnessed the generally disappointing scene and decided I need an action plan. Tomorrow I am going to heartlessly rip out my battered tomato plant – I decided today that leaving it in will only depress me. I definitely let it get too big early on, and the recent torrential Sydney rain seems to have done it in – it has just been too wet for too long. When I came out this morning and saw that the paltry tomato harvest had further been decimated by possums, I decided it had to go!

I am also going to pull out the chilli plant that has been completely devoured by possums over the past fortnight (why??!!), and replant some seeds which were washed out of the ground during the last two weeks of rain. I’ll also have a think about what other edible plants I can grow, and further investigate methods of dealing with possums. It seems that physical barriers such as netting aren’t really doing the trick for hungry possums helping themselves to whatever they like from my garden. Not even succulents are safe – they have taken a nibble from practically every pot and every variety, squashing nearby plants by sitting on them so they can have a nice comfortable snack.

A visitor to the house last night suggested putting out bananas as a decoy, but I find I resent the idea of feeding them, and having squishy banana strewn around the courtyard is not very appealing (get it?) to me. I will do some more research in the meantime. Does anyone else have the same problem? What works for you?

On the plus side, my zinnias are really coming along, and all of my herbs are looking very lush!




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