The Garden Doctor

This blog is about gardening. Because I live in the city, mostly I will focus on urban gardens, and because I love food, I will write about food gardening most of the time. But because I’m also a horticultural scientist by trade, I will bring up issues relating to gardening, agriculture and the environment from time to time, if they’re relevant, or they get under my skin.

Based as I am in the cool temperate climate of Melbourne, Australia, the specific information will relate to situations that arise here. Most of it can be applied anywhere, I hope, taking into account seasonal and local variations.

Whether you are a novice gardener, or an accomplished greenthumb, I hope you can find something to help you with your gardening endeavours. Feel free to ask me direct questions as comments, and I will attempt to answer them, or even post about them.

Oh, and you can also find me here:

15 thoughts on “The Garden Doctor

  1. So I have an alpine strawberry plant I planted into a pot the summer before last. That first summer I had some fruit, but last summer I had no flowers whatsoever, at the end of this last winter I was surprised to find some small flowers but it was still too cold and they died off and now there are heaps of new leaves but again no flowers in evidence. What am I doing wrong?

  2. My Passionfruit vine is 1 year old and hasn’t grown a great deal. It always looks withered, no matter how much water I give it or what season it is. It’s hanging on a trellis in the sun all day. I know they take 2 years to fruit, but this plant looks like it needs some serious help. Should I be feeding it and how can I make it happy?

    1. The passionfruit vine is flowering! I have two flowers. It turns out it just needed a little feeding, that’s all.
      I was recommended Potash by other gardening heads, but i’ve just watered it fortnightly with Seasol and within the first few days it had flowered – and a year prematurely.
      Yet to see any fruit, time will tell.

  3. I have 12 tomato plants growing happily in two rows. There is a lot of wasted space underneath them. What would you recommend I grow in the unused space, would lettuces be a good companion?

    1. Basil! Lots and lots of basil. Haven’t done it myself yet (growing my first proper veggies) but this is what all my research told me. Parsley and chives are good as well… plus the herbies don’t compete for nutrients with the tomato roots.

      1. They do compete for nutrients, all plants need the same nutrients, but their different root structures may mean they are competing in different actual areas of the soil or potting media, for example deep vs shallow rooted plants.

  4. Hello there, I have a question that I hope you’ll have time for. I live in Canberra and we have a large interplanted organic bed which is next to the neighbour’s fence.

    Having defeated the plague of earwigs and ravenous slaters with yeasty beer-brewing leavings and time, I have now got a plague of harlequin bugs. They appear to be going crazy on the common mint flowers, but they’re eating holes in my jerusalem artichokes and have hammered the horseradish, which is closest to the neighbours from whence I think they’re coming. Through the gaps in the fence, you can see there’s about 30 cm of leaf litter above the ground line on this side.

    I have been squashing them by hand, but they’re not stupid and can be hard to find under leaves, etc. I’d be interested to find out more about them and some organic controls.


    1. I have yet to try it, but when my new veggie plot starts getting attacked en masse by wiggly crawly things I’m planning on trying out water infused with crushed chilli & garlic – using it on a misting spray bottle on the leaves etc. If you try it out… let me know how it goes!

      1. Chilli and garlic spray is a good deterrent, but when you see snail-eaten chillis and aphid-ravaged garlic, you realise you may need something a little stronger.

  5. Hello Garden Doctor

    My indoor garden is a little ill! The soil in my indoor pots is getting mouldy, and it’s not even winter yet when the problem usually arises.

    I have a very small dark flat with only one tiny window. Is there anything I can do to stop the mould?


  6. i discovered this weird grub in my garden when i was digging up the last of the potatoes, just next to the bougainvillea trunk. there were 5-6 of them. is this a bad grub? and why would it appear? i took a photo of one.

  7. Looks like some sort of beetle larva. If no one replies send the pic to your National Museum. Look up the entomology section and someone will be a specialist in beetles and may be able to identify it.
    A key question is, were any of your potatoes damaged in any way? If not then teh beetle larvae may be quite harmless

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