Wednesday, 31 December 2008

compost ain't a pretty thing

It's not terribly glamorous but I thought I'd show you my compost bin. We have a little round tin on the kitchen bench where we put all of our veggie scraps and paper towels. I also add leaves from the garden and sometimes strips of newspaper. The thing that really gets it going though is lawn clippings - a bit of cut grass really starts it "cooking".'s a bit of a recipe to "cooking" compost. You need a balanced mix of soft, green things (like kitchen scraps or fresh grass) and drier, brown things (like dead leaves or newspaper). It also needs to stay slightly damp, and it helps if it's warm outside. And the main bit of work is you do have to mix it up a bit at least once a week. But personally I find it rewarding, I've already gotten a bucket's worth of compost to put on the rhododendrons. and if you thought it wasn't much to look at from the outside, the inside's no better. This is a mix of grass clippings (already pretty far composted) and grape leaves.

going to seed

The term "going to seed" means that your plant is flowering and making seeds.  It usually refers to vegetables or herbs, and usually you want to eat them before they "go to seed".  I thought I'd show you the spectacular show that lettuce puts on when it goes to seed.

This was my beautiful Frilly Pink lettuce.  We got one day of 30 degree weather last week and BOOM by the end of the day it had the characteristic cone-shape forming.  That cone shape meant it was forming a stalk to put flowers on.  Oh well, my rocket (arugala) is reasonably-sized now.  I also planted Red Flame lettuce but I'm having some issues; only one seed germinated and it's since died, not sure why.  I hope the rocket works out, I'd hate to go back to having to buy lettuce.

fig wars two: alexa strikes back

I got tired of birds eating my figs the day before they were fully ripe, so I tried once again to net the tree.  First I strung a full net along the back side of the tree, tying it on securely.  But I didn't actually think that would do much - they just had to fly in from the other side and they'd be under the net eating my figs.  So I got creative and made net booties. have my friend Heather to thank for this idea.  Apparently in Queensland they make mesh bags you tie over banana bunches to protect them from fruit bats.  I asked at the B-store and they didn't sell anything like that, so I made some myself.  I took a second bird net and cut out some large squares, then stitched together one side with outdoor twine.  I dragged them over the ends of branches with figs that were near-ripe, then closed the end around the branch. be honest, it's a pain in the bum.  Each of those bags has one, maybe two figs in it - a lot of work for just a few fruit.  But that's just the breba crop.  On the tips of those branches are another 3 or 4 of the main crop which will ripen in the autumn.  So if this works, I can either keep them on all summer, or take them off now and re-use them closer to the autumn.

Unfortunately one bag has failed so far.  It wasn't closed all the way and the fig was awfully close to another branch, so either a bird climbed inside the bag or just pecked it through the netting. the rest of the bags seem to be working.  Here's one of my beauties - it looks ripe but I'm going to give it one more day.  I think it's safe, or else it would have been pecked open by now.  Next to it are two of the autumn crop slowly ripening.

I can't wait to try them.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

comments are working

I figured out why comments weren't working ... they should be working now. Please feel free to leave me comments!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

a place for everything

The garage is more or less my zone.  We're not really power tool people and I'm the one who likes the garden, so I've taken it over.  I finally gotten around to putting in a bunch of hooks so I can organise my clutter and keep it off of the bench.  Here it is, my beautiful, almost-organised garage!

succulent treasures

Today is my husband's birthday (happy birthday my love), but I got some pretty nice presents too. You see, I've been looking into succulents recently. They're great for this climate - they don't give a stuff about drought. And they come in a variety of interesting colours and textures. you know they also put on quite a show of flowers? I didn't know that, not until I saw a bunch being sold by an old lady who sells plants at work. I saw these bright yellow-orange flowers and thought they'd be lovely for the office ... then looked down and realized they were coming from a succulent! This one is home for the holidays but it'll go back to work, at least until the flowers fade.

I already had two succulents in the yard, and was recently surprised to find them putting out flowers. This one has a few flower stalks coming out on the right-hand side. I think it's a type of echeveria but there are dozens of types so I don't know for sure.

This one is a type of aloe - aloe aristata I believe. As you can see, they all have lots of little clones of themselves sprouting out the sides. If you snip these off and put them in a bit of sandy soil, you'll soon have more and more succulents. In fact the clumps are happier if you snip them out, it lets the main plants spread out more. fact there were so many babies on the aloe I took out all of these and you can't even tell the difference.

But enough about my old succys. Tom's mother has been taking cuttings from her succys for a while now, planting them around her garden and in pots. So I walked around with scissors and a bag and came home with all of these cuttings (though this photo also has cuttings from my succys in it). I love all the different shapes, colours and textures. of my favourites are these Sedum rubrotinctum, the "jelly bean" plant or "pork and beans". I'm not sure how many different types I have here because my Mother-in-law was already spreading around cuttings and they probably turn different colours if they get more or less sun. I love those tiny, bright red ones, I hope they survive because they don't look very happy. love these ones too, they're like big fat rocks. I think they're Pachyphytum. I'm not sure if these are the same kind of plant or two different plants because they were in different pots.

So, how do you propagate succulents? I mixed together propogation mix with sand and filled up a bunch of pre-used plastic punnets. You're meant to let the cuttings dry out for a day or two so they don't rot, but I was too impatient - mine all went in today. And by the end of a month they should have roots of their own, ready to be transplanted.

Where will I plant them? No idea yet. Some tolerate shade so I think they'll do OK here and there. Others need full sun so they'll probably go in pots. And others are destined to be given as gifts. That's part of the fun of succulents - they're free, so why not pass them along?

Friday, 26 December 2008

things to come

Today my sister asked how much of Christmas dinner came from my garden.  Well, not much really.  A few different fresh herbs - Thai basil, sweet basil, and thyme.  A lot of the rest is still just chugging along, so I thought I'd share a few of the latest developments.

My yellow tomatoes are ripening more and more and finally starting to taste decent.  The leaves were starting to turn yellow which was worrying me, but I figured out it's because the were short on Nitrogen.  Nitrogen is the stock-standard plant nutrient that makes leaves grow, and the soil I'd planted my yellow tomatoes in was actually "pre-used" potting soil - not a good idea.  As I found out, it had run out of nutrients.  But I've given it a good drink of liquid fertilizer and it's perked back up again.

Whilst I'm on the subject, where Nitrogen feeds the leaves, Potassium feeds the "fruits."  So all of the veggies below have gotten a sprinkle of sulphate of potash, concentrated potassium, which is meant to help make big, tasty fruit.'ve also gotten my first baby Tumbler Tom tomato coming in.  It'll be about a month before I start harvesting these babies, but they should be nice and sweet from the heat of January. other tomato, the Better Boy, is setting a fair few fruit.  It won't make as many as the cherry tomatoes but they should be nice and big, your traditional round red style.  This is the biggest on on the bush so far, and still growing.  They probably won't ripen until February. to the tomatoes I have a jalapeno plant.  It started out a bit slowly from the cool weather and it was also in pretty poor potting soil, but I've now got my first baby jalapenos on it.  Just look at this lovely! around the back my pumpkin vines are going bonkers.  There are at least twelve baby pumpkins and more coming, if I keep letting the vine grow.  Here are the two biggest ones I could find, and they still have the flowers on them.

A bit of sad news though, for some reason two of the pumpkins are shriveling up.  I think this means they weren't pollinated properly but I'm not sure.  I hope it's just these two and that I don't lose all of them!

my designer twig

One of the very first things I wanted, when I got this garden, was a fruit salad tree.  There's a company up in New South Wales that grafts multiple types of fruit on the same tree - so you could have a tree with three types of apples, or four types of stone fruits, or five types of citrus.  What better tree to have in such a small garden?  They even graft the citrus onto dwarf root stock, so the tree itself stays small.

Having grown up in a cooler region I'm particularly excited to grow citrus fruits, since the closest I came in Oregon was an indoor potted kumquat.  So in that initial frenzy of excitement, I ordered a fruit-salad tree: a lime and tangelo.  I already have a lemon tree, the most useful of fruits, but I definitely wanted a lime.  And this year I discovered the joy of a tangelo, it's a cross between a mandarin and a grapefruit.  They're a beautiful fruit, tangy, easy to peel and easy to eat.  But they can be a little bit expensive and their season is short, so I decided I wanted to grow some of my own.

Despite the website saying six weeks, after waiting at least that long I still hadn't heard anything.  It turns out the growing season started out slowly so it was taking the trees longer to take the grafts.  And the way they make them is, they splice one of each fruit onto the parent stock, and whatever survives they sell. 

So then, MONTHS after ordering it, I got a phone call.  They had a tree with lime and tangelo, but it also had mandarin on it, so did I want to pay for the extra graft or wait until they had one with just lime and tangelo?  At this point I was so desperate I said of course I'd pay for it.  A few days later, it arrived! first surprise was just how small the thing was.  I call it my "designer twig".  I had been saving a huge pot for it so it had lots of room to grow, but it's so small that I'm starting it in a smaller pot.  And it's going to be a few years, at least, before it'll be strong enough to let it make fruit.

My next shock ... the lime graft had snapped right off during shipping.  My beautiful, precious designer twig had lost the bit that made me want to order it in the first place.

I actually had a little cry (it doesn't take much to get me crying, really) then rang the lady at the nursery.  I'm guessing this kind of thing happens every so often, because she offered me a deal - they'd send me another tree with a lime + 1 citrus, and they'd pay the shipping and the cost of the lime if I'd pay for the other graft, of my choice.  I'd been going through this circus for so long I said yes ... and in another few weeks I should be the owner of not only a mandarin/tangelo tree, but also the owner of a lime/orange tree.  Lord knows where I'm going to put them when they get bigger, but for now they're so tiny I couldn't say no.

The saga wasn't even over.  As you can see in the above photo, I put the designer twig into a good-sized pot, with some high quality potting soil.  But the leaves at the top (the mandarin part) were quite curled up ... and got curlier after a few days.  I did a bit of research, and that happens when the tree is "waterlogged" - just like my Japanese maple!

So I performed yet another tree rescue, carefully pulling the twig out of its pot.  The potting soil was so rich that it held too much moisture.  I mixed a fair amount of sand into the potting soil and re-potted it into a terracotta pot; I like the look of terracotta better, and it "breathes" more than this glazed pot.
It's perked right up since then; the curled leaves I think will stay curly, but take a look at this!  Look at this new growth just bursting away.  The mandarin is really shooting out; the tangelo below it is a little slow but it's coming along too.  Within a month it should double in size when all of that new growth comes in.

fig wars

Just a day after picking that unripe fig, I noticed a nice dark fig as I left for work in the morning.  It was a dark plum-purple colour and I thought, now THAT is a ripe fig.  I'll enjoy it when I get home tonight.

When I got home, it was gone.  The whole thing had been eaten. fig wars have begun.  This is why we tried to net the tree, birds and possums adore figs.  I scoured the tree and managed to find two likely figs.  The on one the left is the dark plum colour of a ripe fig, but as you can see has split open (I don't know if it's from the rain or if it was just a retarded fig, but it wasn't an animal).  The one on the left was another big, unblemished one that I thought might be ripe ... and I certainly wasn't going to leave for the birds to get to first.

Here's what they look like when sliced open.  It's a bit gross but they look like kidneys to me.  The big one wasn't quite ripe, the middle is still firm instead of being gooey and jelly-like. freaky-shaped one was indeed ripe, I got one small spoonful of jelly-like goodness from it, but the rest had dried out where it split open.  So I know the flavour will be lovely, if I can ever get a whole one to ripen before the birds get to them.  I'm told that a big tree will make so many fruit that the birds and possums can eat their fill and still leave plenty behind, but for now it's just frustrating because I haven't been able to eat one for myself!

I do have options.  I could try to put the net back up, even if only on part of the tree.  Or I could use the net to make little "bags" to put over some of the branches to protect just those fruit.  But in the meantime all I can see are bright red figs, pecked open, and watch the blackbirds slowly eat them across the course of a day, watching me from inside the big green leaves of the big tree.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

the little gem first noticed this nondescript little shrub when we moved in.  I assumed it was one of many plants the previous owners planted just to make the house salable, without caring about whether it was a good location and without watering the thing.  It was so sickly I just assumed it would die and I'd figure out something else to plant there.  It's a horrible spot, in a south-facing corner (eg, almost no sun) and in the rain shadow the neighbour's garage.  Why bother to find out what kind of shrub it was if it was just going to cark it?

Well a few weeks ago I stopped and actually looked at the thing again, and realised it's not a shrub.  It's a little magnolia tree.  To be exact, it's a Little Gem magnolia.

Magnolias do need a little bit of love (read: water) in Melbourne, but they can be tough little things.  And this thing survived months of abuse, including the 6 weeks across October when we got no rain, just heat.  Yet it was still putting out new growth. 

And I do love magnolias.  Especially the evergreen kinds like like this one.

So I decided it earned a reward.  I raked back the mulch and ripped out a mat of roots from the potato vine that grows nearby.  It was a serious mat - about two inches thick, so thick that when I tried to water the magnolia without pulling up the roots, the water just sat on top of the root mat.  The potato vine will certainly survive without this patch of roots, so out they came.

Then she got a sprinkling of fertilizer, some Saturaid to help the soil hold moisture, and yes, a good long drink of water to encourage it to grow deep roots.  Back went the mulch. few weeks later, and my little gem looks like this.  Six weeks of steady rain and a bit of pampering has paid off in spades, look at that light green new growth!  And how fitting for the Christmas season, a single white blossom has opened at the top.  Just like a Christmas star.

fruits of my labour

I'm starting to harvest my first fruits of much labour.

Actually I've been harvesting herbs and lettuce for months now.  Here's one of my prideful joys, my Frilly Pink lettuce. I grew another variety too but I like this one better - slightly crisp, the leaves are pretty but flat enough you can wash them without much hassle.

But recently I've been harvesting more gems. first tomatoes of the season ripened about a week ago.  To get tomatoes before Christmas is not a bad feat. are my Yellow Pear tomatoes, when still unripe and again when I got my first harvest.

They're not meant to have that little collar of green, in fact I hadn't meant to pick it yet!  But I went to show it to Tom and it popped off in my hand.

Unfortunately the flavour was horrible.  The first two I picked were downright mealy and not sweet at all.  But I had been warned that sometimes the first fruits are really bad, and that cooler weather can make tomatoes more mealy.  Sure enough, it's been cool and rainy in Melbourne for like 6 weeks, so if anything's going to make an average tomato worse, it's that. temptation was strong to rip the whole plant out of the pot in utter frustration.  How horribly ungrateful of the thing, after all the coddling and care I've given it, to give me back mealy tomatoes!  But I've been patient, and the next two tomatoes were better.  Still a bit bland and mealy, but you now get a bit of flavour kick from the jelly bit around the seeds.  And here is why I grew them in the first place.  Look how beautiful they look in a salad, sliced up next to store-bought red tomatoes!  With a bit of luck, the rest will keep getting better.  They'll never be a strong, sweet-tart knock-out, and I won't grow them again, but they've saved themselves from the compost heap. other recent harvest is my first ripe pea pod.  I got excited and picked the first peas when they were still under-sized, but these ones were big and sweet.  I get to be greedy with these and eat them fresh from the pods, because Tom doesn't particularly like them.  I'm not wasting these beauties on him! finally, I thought I had my first ripe fig.  I don't know what kind of fig tree I have so I don't know what colour they're meant to be when ripe.  Some figs are green when ripe, some so dark purple they're almost black.  Mine have been getting purple-brown streaks, and yesterday I found this monster, soft and inviting on the branch.  It felt soft enough that I thought it was ripe .. and look how huge it is!  One of the biggest on the tree.  It must be all the rain we've been getting in the last month.  Figs prefer it to be hot and dry when they ripen, that's when they're sweetest.  I'm just glad they haven't split., the sad end to this story is that it wasn't ripe after all.  The seeds inside are meant to be thick and soft like jam, and usually dark red depending on the variety.  There isn't meant to be a big cave in the middle and that purple/white outline isn't mean to be that thick.  It smelled nice, like a fresh pomagranite, but it definitely wasn't ripe.  Good thing I only picked the one.

one tomato, two tomato, three tomato...

Growing tomatoes in pots has been a fun challenge.  I grew one last year, or rather tried to grow one, in our apartment.  I think I bought the thing too late in the season and we didn't get much sun on the balcony, so I got all of ONE tomato the whole season.

This year I was much more pro-active.  After several disastrous tries at growing from seed, I bought two seedlings.  One was an impulse buy from Bunnings because I wanted a small, yellow tomato - a Beam's Yellow Pear.  The other is a big round red tomato called Better Boy.

So how do you support tomatoes in a pot?  The first method I tried was advised by a tomato expert - rig together a frame.  I took a flat off-cut and screwed in two long garden stakes.  On the sides of the stakes I half-screwed in a row of screws.  Then you put the pot between the stakes.  As the tomato grows, you wrap string around the stakes to hold the whole thing together.  On the left you can see the Yellow Pear when it was younger, with just one layer of string (and about to put on another set of string).  At this point I still had a small bamboo stake up the middle for extra support.

Next to it is the young Better Boy.  It's a determinate variety, which means they don't grow quite as large and lanky, so I decided to just put a stake down the middle.

Well I eventually figured out that "I'll just put a stake down the middle" doesn't really work in a pot.  As you can see here, the better boy got pretty lanky.  I tried to tie it to the stake but the stake just flopped over.  It's not easy to see in this photo, but now it's actually tied to the porch column!

The stake-and-string approach, on the other hand, is a winner.  Even though this variety is known for growing big and tall, the frame holds it all together really well.  A few laterals pointed outward and didn't get held back by the string, but they're not too heavy.

But wait, didn't I say three tomatoes?

I mentioned that the Yellow Pear was an impulse buy - I wanted a yellow tomato and I didn't do the research beforehand, I just bought what I saw.  After buying it, I was warned that they're a pretty bland tomato.  I got to harvest my first one about a week ago, and sure enough ... pretty bland ... in fact it was mealy and disgusting. 

It's almost too late to start a new plant ... but not quite.  And so in another fit of impulse buying, I bought another variety of cherry tomato.  Once again, I didn't do my research beforehand, I just snapped it up from Bunnings.  I bought a kind called Tumbler Tom, because they grow flat, which meant I didn't need to buy stakes and I already had a slightly smaller pot that it'd fit into.  No guilt, right?  Just the cost of the plant ($2.50) and bit of potting soil, and with a bit of luck I'll have juicy red cherry tomatoes later on in the season.  From what I read (after the fact) the flavour of these guys is good.  And despite its small size it already has about a dozen flowers on it, which means it's fairly advanced.  It should grow over the side of the pot and down the steps, eventually.

And the other good news is that the Yellow Pear tomato might not be as bad as I originally though.  But that's a story for the next post.  Until then, here are three methods of staking tomatoes in pots:

Two-stake frame: highly recommended
One-stake in the middle: not recommended unless you have a column to tie it too eventually
No stake at all: you just need to buy one of these low-growing mutant varieties!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Here are a few of the critters I've found around the place so far.  I'll start with the "icky" ones.

This is a mole cricket.  I found it when I was digging up the raised bed to make it a veggie patch.  Scared the crap out of me at first because it was so big and freaky and I had no idea what it was (it's a few inches long by the way).  I even thought it was dead, it wasn't moving at first but woke up a bit after a while.  After a bit of research I learned that they're nocturnal, silent crickets that generally live underground or in mulch.  They can chew on roots, but generally they don't do much damage and you should let them be.  I put him back in the dirt.

This next critter is a shining cockroach.  Mostly I see them outside - under the lid of the recycling bin, in the garage door jam.  But once I found one inside the rim of the dishwasher, which freaked me out and made me worry that they were the "bad", indoor kind.  But no, they're wingless, native to Australia, and they prefer the great outdoors.  They don't eat people food, they don't breed inside, and they don't carry disease like the German cockroach that infests kitchens.  This is the one I found inside, but I just put it back outside where it belonged.  They're also fairly long, over an inch long, which is bigger than the German roaches.

Once I even found a big fat grub in the ground under the pencil pines.  I didn't take a photo, so I'm borrowing one from another website to show you how nasty they look.  It went in the bin, they munch away at roots and are pests.

And finally, the cute critters.  Possums in Australia are much cuter than American possums.  But they're a bit of a pest, like squirrels - cute but destructive.  They like to eat roses, herbs and fruit, and get in fights with house cats (the possums usually win, or run away).  They can be quite loud when they're fighting, and if you're not careful they like to nest in your roof.  You can't kill them, they're a protected species, though you can hire someone to trap them and move them to another area.  So far I've been super-lucky, they've left my plants alone.

They're generally nocturnal, so I was very surprised to find these two little angels in my lemon tree one afternoon in daylight. 

These two are still practically babies and should be with their mother.  The one at the top of the tree was making little alarm calls, but they didn't run away when I took photos.  I hope they wound up OK, I'm a little worried their mom may have been hit by a car, but they weren't there the next day.

But don't you agree that they're so much cuter than American possums?

the fig tree

I had never seen a fig tree or eaten a fig before I moved to Melbourne.  Apparently as recently as 50 years ago they were more common than apples, because everyone had one in their back yard and people ate more home-grown food.  But figs don't store well and you can't ship them across the country like you can with apples, so as back yards got smaller and veggie patches were replaced with supermarkets, figs fell off the menu.

Which is a shame, as they grow incredibly well in Melbourne.  They're a Mediterranean tree so they don't mind cool, wet winters and thrive on hot, dry summers. 

Our home is blessed with an old, huge, established fig tree.  Our house was sub-divided from the house at the front of the lot ten years ago, but this tree is so big it must have been part of the old back yard, I'm guessing at least 20 years old.  I'm told that possums and birds love to steal figs before they're ripe, so I decided to be safe and buy a bird net to protect them.

It didn't really work.

Even with a 2.4 metre ladder and a huge swatch of bird net, after 30 minutes work this is all Tom and I could manage.  But the top, back, and lower bits weren't covered at all.  The only thing it caught was Percival when it slipped down a bit - he tried to run out from under the tree and wound up in the net.  Within a few days it fell off.

So it looks like the birds will get first pick.

I learned something interesting about figs.  They actually make two crops in one year.  During the winter when they have no leaves, they develop little fig buds on last year's new wood.  This early crop is called the breba crop.  In colder areas, frost usually kills this crop, but I've got a good-sized breba crop on my tree.

In the spring, the tree puts out new leaves and new growth.  On this growth, another, heavier crop of fig buds appear.  These figs ripen in the autumn and make up the main crop.

Here's a photo of the fruiting end of a fig branch.  The larger fruits are the breba crop, and you can see a few nubs of the main crop as well.  The bronzy colour will slowly turn dark purply-brown as the figs ripen.

As you can see, my breba crop is almost ripe!  Some of them are downright huge, too.  This one hardly fits in my hand.

For some reason some of them are looking "club-footed" and I don't know why.  I'll have to ask over on the Ozgrow forum and see if someone can tell me.

I just hope I like the taste of figs.  I've only had a fresh fig once, last year when a work colleague brought some in.  To be honest I wasn't impressed with the taste (though it was a lot better than dried figs which I detest).  But at the time I wasn't very into many fruits at all.  But since I've been eating less sugar and more fruits, I've developed a taste for fruit I used to think I "didn't like".  Hopefully figs will be one I rediscover.  And if not, Tom's mother has informed me that she will happily eat them for me!

That's one nice thing about figs, because they're rare to find in stores, it's easy to share them with people who don't have their own tree.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

japanese maple rescue

At the end of winter I planted a little Japanese maple in the corner garden bed. The variety is called Shishigashira, a delicate dwarf variety with dense, "wrinkled" green leaves that turn bright orange in autumn. But it wasn't much to look at when I brought it home, just a little dormant stick.

But within a few weeks it burst into leaf. It seemed to be enjoying its corner, a sheltered spot with no wind and not too much sun. It even put out some new leaves.

But after a month or two I started to get worried. First the new leaves dried out and wrinkled up. I thought I hadn't watered it enough (it was a very dry October), so I made sure to give it a bit of water once a week. But then it started raining again so I stopped checking in on it. Next thing I know it looks like this.

Yep, it still looks like it's too dry. But in actuality, it's probably too wet. Over-watering shows very similar symptoms to under-watering: yellowing, dying foliage. Of course by the time I realized what was going on, we got our longest, wettest rain in years, something like 36 straight hours of rain. But finally it stopped raining, and yesterday I attempted a maple tree rescue.

First I raked away the mulch and with Tom's help dug up the maple. It was pretty easy to do, they're fairly shallow-rooted and it had only been in the ground a few months. The soil around it was definitely wet after all the rain, but it was also pretty free-draining, rich and loamy - not hard and clay, not swampy or smelly. But I still think over-watering is the culprit, because I also found a drain pipe coming out from the raised beds next to it into the corner, which means when I watered the rhodies I was also watering the maple. Good to know in the future, but too much of a good thing, even water, is a bad thing.

I mixed up cow manure and sand and filled in the hole, mixing in some of the surrounding soil too. Hopefully that will help with the drainage. Then I put the maple back, now on a bit of a mound, and piled up more manure/sand mix and surrounding soil around it, then the mulch on top. I even dug out a bit from the corners to add to the mound.

I can only hope this saves my little maple. I would hate to lose it before I ever got to see it turn colours in the autumn ... and it certainly wasn't a cheap tree!