Unhealthy Projects

Some of the plants in our garden are a bit depressed. Some have been depressed for a long time, some are more recently depressed. I’m going to make it my project to try to cheer them up.

For our passionfruit vine, the trigger was being thrown into a new environment. He was unsure of his new surroundings, felt lost without the protection of his pot, and confused about what we expected him to do with the elaborate lattice we’d constructed him next to. It was all too much and he became overwhelmed.

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We knew straight away that he wasn’t happy. At his grandad’s suggestion we chopped him right back so he could grow at his own pace and get a feel for his new environment, rather than being thrust into the lattice unnaturally by hand. Plus his shocked roots wouldn’t have to drink so much to keep his leaves looking nice.

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I was convinced that the change was just too much for him, and he wasn’t going to make it. But, with some encouraging words from his grandad, Kate and James, we gave him a chance. He is slowly creeping out of his shell again to sniff around at his new environment.

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With some continuous love and affection, I think he’ll make a very fine passionfruit vine.

Like many with depression, Maggie the Magnolia’s depressive symptoms are linked with the weather. But unlike most humans, she is more depressed in the summer months. Her first summer was a big struggle, and she has never really recovered. Perhaps she became ashamed of her appearance after her leaves became burnt. Like the passionfruit vine, I think she also struggled adjusting to her environment. There was a half dead tree in her place before she arrived. The tree stump was actually rotten. We have always been worried about the soil and drainage in this spot, so it’s no surprise she’s struggling. She’s actually looking better than ever at the moment so I do have high hopes that with protection from the sun, plus some extra love and care, she’ll be ok.

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There are three other depressed plants in our garden, and despite my keen interest in psychology, I’m not sure what the cause is.

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Our yellow-leaved grevillea. Molly the grevillea was yellow when she was younger, but she adjusted and turned green within a few months. This grevillea has been yellow for a long time, and is showing no signs of improvement despite the occasional feed. I’m not too sure what the best treatment option is here. Perhaps she’s depressed because she knows I love our other grevillea’s (Molly and Peaches and Cream) more than her. I’ll make a special effort to show her more love.

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Our philotheca has been depressed ever since he arrived here, about two years ago. He’s looked half dead since about a month after he was planted, but has never actually died. The passionfruit vine used to be next to him so I’m hoping for some miraculous recovery now he has his own space. I thought philotheca’s were meant to be pretty hardy, but he obviously doesn’t like this soil at all.


Our lovely lime tree has been in and out of depression several times. I’m just hoping he’s strong enough to pick himself up again. This depression hit really fast, soon after I fed him and he sat outside on a rainy day. I’ve since moved him into a sheltered spot, out of the sun and protected from the wind (for a good lie down as Kate suggested). I’m closely monitoring his water intake with my new moisture meter. I spray him with Neem to keep the pests away (thanks to James for the suggestion). If anything he’s looking worse. I’m not sure what to do next 😦

Notice that our lemon tree isn’t on the list of “unhealthy projects”? That’s right! Our lemon tree is looking fine and dandy! She still makes me nervous though. Fingers crossed she stays off the list!

Citrus Help

Oh citrus, how I struggle with thee.

My lime tree was coming along nicely. I took this photo less than a month ago:

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And since then it’s been looking better and better…

Until last week.

Out of nowhere, it’s leaves curled up and shrunk.

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The only insects on it is the odd ant because I’ve been inspecting it for dreaded aphids everyday and I’ve got my little army of lady bugs to help the aphid fight. We had about three days of fairly constant showers (not rain, just showers) last week, could it have gotten too wet? But it’s in a pot with good potting mix so it should have good drainage. The only other thing I can think of is that I’ve fed it some iron, magnesium and powerfeed (with mostly has phosphorus and nitrogen) over the past month. Just one dose of each because I’m paranoid that my citrus are hungry and some of the leaves had a little yellow coming through. Could I have overfed it??

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Next citrus question:

My brand new, much loved and cared for Meyer Lemon has been on a very slow decline since I bought it about a month ago. It’s in a pot with good potting mix. I’ve also fed it iron, magnesium and powerfeed (one dose of each) plus sprinkled slow release fertiliser on it. I’ve moved it out of a full sun position to a spot that gets morning to early afternoon sun only, and full shade after that. I make sure it doesn’t get too dry, but it too was out in the constant showers last week so it may have gotten a bit wet, but once again, it’s in a pot. It doesn’t look especially bad, it just looks a little sad with a couple of the older leaves which have gone completely yellow and the other leaves have tiny yellow spots all throughout. Any advice/suggestions?? I really want my citrus to be happy!

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The Start Of A New Lemony Era


So my lemon tree officially died a few months ago. My love and worry and care was not enough. I failed with the first plant we planted in our first garden. I’m blaming it on the rocky start it had to life: being put directly into clay soil with poor drainage. But I’m still pretty shattered. 😦

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I tried to salvage it with food (so much food!), love, insecticide and water. I could have bought about 3 new lemon trees with the amount of “love” I spent on it! In the end I dug it up and put it in a pot where I could control it’s environment a bit better and give it some nice soil with good drainage. The pathetic amount of roots it had when I dug it up to put it in the pot was an indicator that it needed a miracle to bounce back. And the barely there amount of roots it has now are a tell tale sign it didn’t stand a fighting chance.

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I’ve been keeping my eye out for another Meyer lemon for that past couple of months and I finally found one today. My neighbours are successfully growing a Eureka lemon straight into the clay ground, but I wanted to get a Meyer again because they’re the best. I figured if I start it off in a pot with good potting mix, where I can control the drainage a bit better, and keep it well watered, well fed and pest free, it should have a good start to life. Down the track I can think about putting it in the ground.

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I’m already feeling a motherly bond to my new lemon tree. I was talking to it all the way home in the car. I’ve explained to it (well, her) that I have every type of food she could possibly want and that if she’s hungry or thirsty to tell me straight away. I’ve introduced her to the brussels sprouts and tomatoes that are growing next to her and shown her her citrus friend, the lime tree on the other side of the vegie boxes. Call me crazy but I really want this one to be happy! Wish me luck!

The Fruits (And Veg) Of My Labour

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My brussels sprouts are finally sort of starting to look like brussels sprouts! Man they’re slow! Hopefully they’ll get bigger quickly from now so I can eat them before it gets to hot and they go all floppy and open. They’re funny little things.

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My first two tiny baby capsicums are starting to grow. That was fast! I only planted them a week ago! Hopefully the plant doesn’t spend all it’s energy making two little baby capsicums because the plant itself is still really little. It’s got some growing to do to make all the capsicums I’m expecting out of it!

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My lime tree did it’s usual ‘winter death’ thing but the new growth is looking great! Is there anything I can do other than bring it inside to keep it healthy in winter? I feel like the warmer months are spent regrowing all the leaves that fell off in winter and by the time that’s done it’s winter again. It has only been two winters that it’s done it’s ‘winter death’ but that’s two out of two and I’m sensing a cycle. It gets a good mix of fertiliser including slow release, and I’m generally pretty on top of the aphids when they pay their visit, and it’s in a pretty sheltered spot in a pot with nice soil. I just don’t have the citrus touch!

First And Last Lemons?

I finally decided to pick the two tiny lemons that my lemon tree managed to produce before they fall off and die like all the leaves have. (Yes, my lemon tree is still hanging in there but looking worse and worse as the weeks go by. I keep telling myself we’ve had a cold winter with some frosty days and it’ll come good when it warms up again. I’ll certainly let you know if I’m right! If you don’t hear anything from me by mid summer, don’t mention the lemon tree!)

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Although small, the lemons actually look and smell great! Very juicy. If only there were more… 😦

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Thought I’d do the first taste test with a good ol’ lemon in water drink. I did consider a GnT but I’m not a massive fan of gin or tonic so water it is! And it’s not bad at all if I might say so. Let’s hope I get some more home grown lemons to tart up my water one of these days!

Lemon Tree Update #3127 (or so it feels)

Well, I’ve fed it everything under the sun, I’ve taken every slight inkling of a pest off, I’ve given it sunshine, water, love, urine, until I finally gave up, bare rooted it and put it in a well drained pot with expensive potting mix especially for citrus. 3 and a bit weeks on it repays me by turning the 3 measelly lemons yellow. No new growth. No sign of ever being a happy lemon tree. I’ve done my best Mr Meyer, but I think it’s time to replace you. I say that with a heavy heart 😦


On the plus side, one of my orchids has decided to flower! A little early there Mr Orchid?


Final Attempt, Mr Meyer


This has been a long saga and has been the subject of several blog posts including:

Lemon Tree Diagnosis?

Lemon Tree Update

Lemon Tree Update (Again)

My parents gave us this Meyer Lemon Tree soon after we moved into our house. It was the first plant we planted in our “blank canvas” of a backyard. We had an established Meyer lemon at the house we rented before moving to this one and the fruit was stunning. So much flavour! But this lemon tree has never been happy. It’s been a year and a half of feeding, pest controlling and generally giving it lots of love and attention and it still looks like this. We have clay, poorly drained soil, which is likely it’s main problem. So, thanks to the suggestion of Kate I’ve potted it. This way it’ll have well drained, well fertilised soil, it can stay in it’s full sun position, and will hopefully have nothing to complain about! If this doesn’t work I’m giving up for sure!


After a year and a half in the ground it’s roots are pretty dismal. This doesn’t give me confidence.


I gave the roots a good rinse off in case of any nasties amongst them.


The pot is 55L and matches the lime tree pot on the other side of the vegie boxes. If Mr Meyer thrives I can get a bigger pot, or even attempt to plant it again. But we’ll cross that bridge if we get to it! The only thing it can complain about now it being a bit more exposed to the wind. We’ll hopefully be replacing our fence soon and the temporary fence behind it will go so that should keep it pretty sheltered. In the mean time I’ll just focus on keeping it watered just the right amount and keeping the pests away. I bought good quality potting mix so it shouldn’t need any food for a month or so. Hopefully my next lemon tree post with have photos of luscious green, happy, healthy leaves!

Oh No, Aphids! :(

After a few days away, I’ve come home to water and inspect the garden, only to discover yet another pest has come to play. Black aphids on my lime tree! I hate aphids! They’re so infesting!

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I cut off all the shoots I could see with aphids or eggs on them (which actually weren’t many, looks like I get in early!). Then I squashed the aphids and eggs with my gloved fingers because I’ve read that squashed aphids give off a scent to deter other aphids. Then I got out my trusty spray bottle and sprayed the whole tree with one part vegetable oil, two parts water, and some dishwashing detergent to get it to mix. This will hopefully suffocate any aphids I’ve missed. I’ve moved the tree out of the sun so the leaves don’t get burned from the oil magnifying the light. Over the next few days I’ll spray garlic and water to deter any aphids coming back. I have seen plenty of lady bugs in our garden so hopefully they’ll help me fight this war too!

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Lemon Tree Update (Again)

After the excitement that my lemon tree had turned a corner with healthy new growth, (see Lemon Tree Update) over the past few weeks that beautiful growth has been turning sicker and sicker. I don’t know what to do! I hate watching it!


It’s in a spot which has poor drainage. This is unavoidable. My whole garden is clay that’s either really wet or really dry. The corner of the garden that it’s planted in was also a bit of a dumpster when we moved in. There were rotten eggs, bones and all sorts of rubble in the dirt. Most of it was dug up and the soil was turned before the lemon tree was planted but perhaps there’s something wrong with the soil. Perhaps I should dig up the lemon tree and bare root it and replace the soil for some bought soil? I fear it wouldn’t survive such a process.

It seems to attract tiny spiders, but I’ve been keeping these under control.

It looks deficient in nutrients. I’ve read various things, some saying the green Christmas tree pattern on the leaves is an iron deficiency, some say magnesium, some say nitrogen. So I’ve fed it Epsom salts, and a generalised liquid fertiliser with iron and nitrogen in it, as well as slow release fertiliser. I’ve been um-ing and ah-ing as weather or not to put pea straw around it for some extra slow release nitrogen because I don’t want the soil to retain any more water. It is quite sunny in Melbourne lately so maybe a light sprinkle will be ok?


It’s still got a few lemons that haven’t died yet (although about 80% did just shrivel up and fall off). I’m clinging to these!


Any advice would be much appreciated on this one. I’m very attached to this tree after all this effort, plus it was the first plant we planted in our “blank canvas”.

Next Crop Update: 3 weeks on..


Original crop planted on November 25. From far to near: lettuce, beets, bok choy (far box); chillies, tomatoes (near box).


Everybody’s happy and jumping out of the vegie boxes (the caterpillars are happy too – see prev post). I’ve been giving my poor lime tree some TLC too (you can see it in the far pot) and it’s got lots of new growth after a good dose of fertiliser and oiling the leaves to get rid of the bugs.