Monday, 26 May 2008

It's twisting my Melon man.

It's time for an update from the muddy, weed infested slug farm that is the plot.
I had big ideas about growing a melon outdoors on the plot and looked back in time for clues as to how I should go about it.
Now, for gardening's boom time we need to pop back to the Victorians really, when gardens were part food supply and part status symbol. The bigger and more extreme your gardens, the better off you were to your peers. Anyone who didn't serve pineapple at dinner parties was a failure.
Those exotic fruits had to be grown on site too as their was no way of preserving and transporting the from the empire then.
The people i charge of the gardens were geniuses when it came to recreating the growing conditions necessary for the more delicate plants and would use all sorts of weird and inventive methods to create the hot humid atmosphere that melons, pineapples and citrus fruits required.
One such trick was using the heat generated from fresh stable manure as it rotted to provide bottom heat for the plants and trapping that heat and moisture with elaborate glass cloches.
All architecture the Victorians produced, even down to mundane work day frames and such were elaborately decorated and usually quite heavy as they had a fondness for cast iron and lead!
I decided to use and adapt the method, known as a hotbed, to try and grow my melon. The plant had been an impulse buy during a trip to a local outlet and so I used a stack of turves I had recently created and covered it with not fresh but still hot donkey manure. I covered the heap with heat retaining black polythene and planted through a small slit in the top.To replace the ornate glass cloche, I resorted to a large water bottle with the base removed. In the side of the heap I inserted a small squash bottle with the end cut off to provide water to the roots later. This is something I o with heavy feeders or thirsty plants as it means the water is less likely to evaporate before it reaches the roots. I'm not sure if the Victorian gardeners did this but I guess it can only help.
The good news is that there hs been some interest in what at first sight resembles a lunar landing craft, the bad news is copious amounts of slug pellets and vigilance hasn't thwarted the dreaded slug and the main leaves and most of the growing point has been eaten.
There's a slim chance it may still survive but I am not holding out too much hope. I will give it tim to see if there is any sign of recovery, as I almost threw out some sunflower seedlings for the same reason and my wife persuaded me to let her have them.
They are putting on great growth in a pot in her garden at home.
Seems I'm not the only green fingered one!

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