Saturday, May 23, 2020


After a week of generally chilly, gray, rainy days, I was ready to declare myself a "Grumpy Gardener".  I  realized the weather had a greater impact on my mental state than the self-quarantine, stay-home edict.

When I was about to contact wildlife photographer, Michael Smith offering a gardeners sequel to his photo "The Mad Bluebird", I woke up to a weather forecast of a MOSTLY sunny day.  The forecast of mostly sunny was enough to put me back on the glass is half full, positive track.

I have added another project to the gardening list.  You may have read in The Bulletin about tracking annuals that have a possibility of being deer-resistant.  I have put together a list from various sources and I have designated two areas to experiment with.  I have purchased seeds for 6 varieties and will purchase starts for the remainder on the list that fit our USDA zones.

I am using the heat mat and a gro-light rather than relying on the inconsistency of temperatures and natural light in the greenhouse.   A real moral booster on a rainy day was finding the Purple Royal Carpet alyssum germinated in two days and the Honey-Scented alyssum from Renee's in three days.  It is amazing how spirits can be lifted over a tray of germinating seeds.

I am old enough and have been living in the area long enough to know this final study will not be the be all, end all, document.  What worked on my side of the street may not work on your side.  Regardless of the end result, my landscape will be filled with snapdragons, cosmos, zinnias, nasturtiums, calendulas marigolds, impatiens for the shade and a few zonal geraniums.  Among the flowers will be some of the tasty vegetables deer can never resist.   It will be interesting to keep track rather than just complain.

I always plant Minnesota Midget muskmelon but have never been interested in watermelon varieties.  Descriptive words caught me off guard.  Words like "tiny treasures of sweetness, 3 to 5 pounds, longer harvest window in the garden, takes less space in the fridge".  I surrendered and on March 24th ordered Ocelot F1 a new watermelon variety.  The seeds were on backorder and were received on May 18.

However, there is always the fine print.  The long awaited envelope finally arrived with 2 seed packets and an instruction sheet for planting watermelons.  My reaction was how nice that the company sent a complimentary packet of free seeds since I had to wait so long.

The fine print----there was no mention in the description of the melon being seedless.  The seedless trait, according to the fact sheet, is a result of a traditional cross of a normal seeded diploid parent with a tetraploid parent.

The seeds should be started in separate trays.  The triploid variety is the Ocelot, the diploid variety is the pollinator-Ace.

At planting time a row of the Ace (diploid) would be followed by 2 rows of Ocelot (triploid), then another row of Ace.  A diagram was offered for a planting of 56 plants.  Now I need to break it down to a small experimental patch.  Considering the ill-fated luck we Central Oregon gardeners sometimes can experience at harvest time, one phrase, with adaptations comes to mind.  "Oh what fools these gardeners be".  My apologies to Wm. Shakespeare.

To be truthful, I think the deer-resistant study will be more fun and of more general value.  Henceforth, in years to come, I will make a point of purchasing a watermelon at the Farmers market.

Don't forget to check out Gardening:  Get Good at It "Two Plant Clinic Topics" segment Tues. June 2 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am.

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