Plants have tremendous tenacity. If I’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that.

Case and point, passionfruit.

Passionfruit don’t tolerate frost…

I was assured by many people that I could NOT grow a passionfruit vine here in Ballan. The frosts would kill it. Well, we had at leat 3 mornings I can recall of temperatures down to -6.5C with severe (for us) frosts and it's still growing! New growth everywhere! The water tank upon which it's climbing is truly a thermal mass.

3 times down to -6.5C! It’s got newΒ growth!

I harvested my leek seeds somewhat too early last year. Lesson learned. I’d not had the heart to toss them out so I kept them but when Orik got in and pulled the heads apart, scattering the seed pods across the floor, I swept them up and debated throwing them out. Instead, on a whim, I threw them in a vacant area of the front garden, burying them lightly and figured I’d see what happened, assuming nothing would. This afternoon whilst I was weeding nearby I happened to glance across…

Can you see the little wisps of green?

Can you see the little wisps of green? Leeks! From my very own saved seed.

And my totally frost-toastedΒ banana? Well, it’s got green bits now, and one of my 2 seed grown mangoes looks happy. I’m holding a skerrick of hope for my transplanted avocados too. Just a smidgen. πŸ˜‰

I have a theory now with gardening. The expertsΒ tell us what you can and can’t grow, when and where and in most cases they are right. I mean, it’s fairly clear that growing frost sensitive plants in a heavy frost zone will result in dead plants but the experts don’t know everything and they don’t know your garden either. There are always exceptions to the rule and you can even create those exceptions. I’ve read about shade grown tomatoes. I’ve warmed my climate slightly in the vicinity of the passionfruit. David Holmgren has an orange tree and a macadamia, both of which are well pushing limits of the climate in which they will grow. I’ve eaten apples grown from seed (discarded apple cores out windows) and they were delicious. Seed grown apples have a poor reputation to most but not to us. πŸ™‚

What have I learned from this? Well, I would never plant a banana outside in Ballan but I would try an avocado. πŸ™‚ It’s always worth considering pushing those boundaries just a little. I’m growing tomatoes inside over the winter and last week IΒ harvested 3 bright red cherry tomatoes and there are 4 more green ones on the bush at the moment.

They tasted as good as they look.

They tasted as good as they look.

My big bag of potatoes are all sprouting so I’ve been cutting off the sections with the sprouts and planting them in the garden. Likely the frost will toast them but what if it doesn’t? What if the warmer weather is here to stay? I will have a nice early crop of spuds, possibly even in time for Christmas! πŸ˜€ it will take them a few weeks to sprout out above ground anyway so well worth the risk I feel. I have nothing to lose but some potato peelings!

What I’m saying is that if the nursery tells you probably no, have a think about the plants needs and if you think you can provide them then consider giving it a go. You might just have the micro climate to suit. If you’re in a frosty area, look for sheltered niches or close proximity to a window or water. If it’s a plant requiring more than the average uptake of water, do you have a leaky tap? πŸ˜‰ An area where you sometimes have a little standing water (if your plant doesn’t mind wet feet that is).

I grew sweet potatoes inside my greenhouse last year with great success. This year I have a raised bed right up against a fence where I intend to try growing them outside this year. Pushing the climate more than just a little but it’s worth a try. πŸ™‚

Give it a try. Push the rules. Just a little πŸ˜€


16 thoughts on “Tenacity

  1. Sue says:

    Everything you say is so true!
    I write about vegie growing for a living and I am the first to acknowledge that while in theory you shouldnt be able to grow a certain crop you wont know until you try. Youve hit the nail on the head – we cant possibly know what microclimates exist in individual gardens so any advice given should be taken as a guide not a rule!
    Im interested to hear how you think the flavour compares from your winter to summer grown tomatoes…

    • The indoor tomatoes did lack that ultimate tomato zing but they still far outstripped a red tomato shaped supermarket brick. πŸ˜‰ Next year I will plant more and in much larger pots. I consider this years experiment with growing them a huge success with areas in which to improve. If nothing else the slips I’ve snapped off them has given me 7 or 8 tomatoes that will be ready to plant out very soon. πŸ™‚
      I think the fact that I can explore is what makes gardening so much fun for me. I’m not one to break rules really but I do love to prove that I can do what I’ve been told I can’t. There is a (not so) small part of me that is smirking to myself about my passionfruit vine. Just quietly though. I don’t fancy having it die on me to teach me not to be a smug so and so. πŸ˜‰ Still, I’m rather proud that the theory of water tank insulation has shown to work. πŸ™‚ And with my banana greening up again… I was assured the other day I would never get fruit off my potted mango which is itching at me to show to be wrong but that’s about 7 years away yet. πŸ˜‰ Wish me luck there. πŸ™‚

  2. Linne says:

    That tomato photo looks edible, Jess! Yummie!! As to pushing the rules, I’m all the way with you on that one . . . are you surprised? πŸ™‚
    I think that I often did a lot more than push and sometimes things worked well for it . . . ~ Linne

  3. foodnstuff says:

    We permies learn to create microclimates. The average gardener doesn’t and just follows the books. It’s nice to smirk πŸ˜‰

  4. One of my very favourite gardening quotes is ‘No attempt at gardening is ever wasted; you can always compost your mistakes’. I’m a huge fan of just plant and see πŸ™‚

    • I like that. πŸ™‚ I’ve peas that haven’t been impressive (not seen a single pod) but I know they’ve fixed nitrogen and I can cut and drop for mulch too. No loss, lots of gain. πŸ™‚

  5. kmfinigan says:

    This is a fantastic post, Im in absolute agreement with everything you’re saying here. Ive grown fruit from apple cores, and you’re right it was delicious. I live in a similar climate in the Southern Highlands of NSW, gave a grafted Avocado tree a go, and unfortunately it doesn’t look like its going to make it out of winter. BUT I always get a bumper crop of tomatoes, and often grow potatoes at funny times in the season (http://bit.ly/1taxY5n) – its so great that you’re giving it a go!

    Happy Gardening, Kathy.

  6. Lynda D says:

    Why am i not surprised that you are pushing the envelope into “not normal” territory. Is there any part of your life that is normal? Thank God for that, it makes you so much more interesting and sharing life with you is one big adventure. Lead the way…….

  7. Michael says:

    And it’s worthwhile remembering that much of the advice is based on commercial growing. So, for example, while the advice might be that you would never grow custard apples commercially in Melbourne you can get a quite nice custard apple with a little care in a backyard garden in Melbourne.

    • Too true. Advice aimed to those wanting a tree producing commercial amounts. i have no issue if my potted mango produces a mere 10-15 fruit at the peak of its production. I don’t need 50 or 100 mangoes. πŸ™‚ If I want more I’l plant another tree. Then I will have 20-30. Another tree? 30-45. Plenty even for my mango loving family. πŸ™‚
      Sadly custard apples won’t grow here but the atemoya just might. I’m still considering if there is a suitable microclimate. πŸ™‚

  8. narf77 says:

    Who would know what we can grow where any more with the climate all over the place…you aren’t supposed to be able to grow almost everything on our property that is currently growing well so just ignore the sage advice and do what my gran would have said “suck it and see” er…last century advice folks…you can’t blame me! πŸ˜‰

    • Climate change is changing the rules too, just to make life a little more interesting. I read a book once that was suggesting that people planting fruit trees in mid to northern England consider planting varieties more suited to southern England. I guess that means that high chill plants will become less suitable to us here in high chill Ballan.
      One thing I have learned this year though is not to leave planting until August. This year, August has been more like October which is definitely too late to plant out bare rooted trees. I have trees in pots and I NEED to get them out a month or 2 ago. 😦

  9. ingridlee@bigpond.com says:

    Absolutely true. After all, rules are made to be broken! :-0

    Regards, Ingrid http://www.garmentingenuity.com.au


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