Monday, September 24, 2012

A little deficiency of mine

One of my favourite blog titles (and blogs), is 'Patient Gardener', the ongoing story of how Helen is going in her garden in Malvern Wells, in England. I've been tempted occasionally, and not very seriously, to rebadge my blog 'The Impatient Gardener' because I am afraid that is what I am. Here's a small example of the impatient gardener at work, courtesy of a small citrus problem I discovered recently.

All is well in this close up of my 'Eureka' lemon tree.
Flowers galore, bees buzzing and, if we had a 'scratch
and sniff' blog tool you'd be expecting sweet lemon
blossoms, only to run screaming in the other direction
as the chicken poo smells waft out from your screen. 

Ditto the 'Tahiti' lime tree: healthy new
leaves, chicken poo smells, too many
flowers and happiness all-round.

Even the hospital patient potted Thai
lime tree has staged a recovery, new
leaves galore thanks to the change
of pot and potting mix, plus lots of TLC.

The Thai lime is also covered in teeny
little flower buds, the signs of many
uniquely ugly fruit to come. Ugly?

Yep, ugly. I love just being around this Thai lime tree,
as every molecule of it is fragrant. The leaves are a
joy to harvest and chop, and these wrinkled, not-very-juicy
little fruits are equally well-scented. It's the rind which
is the harvest here, Thai zing personified.

OK, if everything is so hunky dory in the citrus department, where's the impatient gardener tale? See below... 

While photographing my somewhat healthy and happy
Eureka lemon tree I noticed that quite a few of the baby
leaves looked like this, very pale green with darker
green veins. Sure signs of some sort of deficiency, but
which one? (And how dare it be deficient in anything with
all the chicken poo, compost and mulch I've been
giving it... wretched ungrateful prima donna plant!)

So, get out my copy of Judy McMaugh's great book,
'What Garden Pest or Disease is That?' and in no
time it seems that we're talking iron deficiency, folks.
Iron deficiency is more common in alkaline soils,
and the basic treatment for iron deficiency is a dose
of chelated iron. And so Mr Impatient mixed up a 
batch (one teaspoon to a 9-litre watering can),
applied it to the root zone around the lemon tree,
watered it in well. Take that, iron deficiency!
Then, only afterwards, it occurred to me that maybe I should check with an expert that what I did actually was the right thing. So I did, and it turns out that yes, that does look like a case of iron deficiency, but not super-serious. It's in its early stages and probably will right itself. Just keep on watering well and let the chicken poo break down and slowly work its magic. Should come right, I was told.

Oh oh... well at least I followed the packet directions for the iron chelates and didn't overdo it, but – and it's a big but – if I was a truly patient gardener I would have noticed the problem, checked with the experts first, waited a while and probably it would all have come good all by itself.

Patience is not merely a virtue, it also has its virtues. It's a shame that I seem to regularly remind myself of that just after I've been impatient yet again.


Missy Piggy said...

That seems like a really helpful book - I only garden in pots on my balcony, but things seem to go awry quite often...I'm Impatient too...always stalking the pots to see if anything has sprouted.

Lithopsland said...

I think many gardeners can be called impatient, I one of them. I like to see it as being a sign of excess passion and tlc, which aren't bad traits, lol. Your garden looks and sounds wonderful this time of year. Those kaffir lime leaves make a great curry, and yep the fruit looks like one only a mother could love, lol.

Lucy said...

Zing personified!

L from 500m2 in Sydney said...

Oh yes, I'm an impatient one too! I love your citrus trees and I feel very inspired by your espaliered lime. I really appreciate all the great (locally relevant) information you have here on your blog.

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