The greenhouse casualty

There’s no easy way to break this sad news, so I will just come out and say it like it is. We’ve had a death in the greenhouse.

Let me explain…

Earlier in the summer, I bought a melon plant from our local ‘cheap and cheerful’ garden centre. It was a complete impulse buy, and being only 50p, it jumped into my trolley all by itself. It sat on the corner of the greenhouse staging, and soon began winding itself around the canes I’d provided, and popped out quite a few yellow flowers. On returning from our summer holiday, we were delighted to find that it had actually gone the whole hog and produced a melon. True, it was only about the size of a tennis ball, but it was healthy and strong, and we had high hopes for it.

To make sure it didn’t get too heavy for the plant, I’d carefully put it in a net bag (which originally had oranges in), and hung this from a hook on the greenhouse frame.

A couple of weeks ago, to my utter dismay, I discovered that the leaves were not looking as perky as they once did. Over the next couple of days, one by one, they shrivelled up and died, and I was left with no choice but to cut my losses and harvest the fruit. Although tiny, it was perfectly formed, perfectly ripe, and tasted blooming delicious!

Turning my attention to the cucumbers, these appeared to be suffering the same fate. Out of the three I planted in a grow bag, two had shot off and scrambled up the canes swiftly becoming fine specimens and bearing fruit. One had always been the runt of the litter, and had seemed to take ages to become established. That seems to have changed now, as the first two are slowly dying, and runty is looking strong and healthy, but has still never produced any cucumbers.

I can only think that even with the regular doses of comfrey tea the melon and cucumber plants have sucked the last drop of any kind of nutrient out of the soil, and are now saying, “blow that… it’s time for a rest”. I’m wondering if perhaps less plants in the grow bag, or indeed a larger pot for the melon would have made all the difference.

Next year I’m going to try out a new idea. I’m planning to cut the bottoms off a couple of large pots and cut a pot-sized circle in the top of the grow bag. Apparently, you then position the pot on top of the hole, fill it with soil, and ‘Voila!’ the growing space is doubled. According to the stuff I’ve read, this also helps with keeping the plants nice and moist. With any luck, the plants will stay healthier for just a little bit longer, and we’ll be enjoying cucumbers way into the autumn.

50 Spades of Gardening (Amazon Kindle)Previous articles, plus more tales from the garden are in my new Amazon kindle book, ’50 Spades of Gardening’ (£1.53). If you don’t have a kindle, free apps are available on Amazon to view through your phone, iPad or PC.

 

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