Confession of a Serial Plant Killer

Confession of a Serial Plant Killer

One of the front flower beds

I am notorious for killing plants.  I admit it.  Occasionally I kill potted plants accidentally due to lack of watering.  Other times, I buy plants on an impulse and then neglect to get them in the ground in a timely fashion.  As a gardener, I should have learned by now.  However, after almost 18 years gardening, I still do it sometimes.  Aside from those accidental plant deaths, I sometimes actually plot my plant killing.

Innocent plants possibly waiting to meet their demise in my yard

Each year, I re-evaluate what is working well for us and what isn’t.  After a few successive seasons of a plant not performing well, I just rip it out.  I don’t discriminate; I won’t hesitate to take out a mature fruit tree or a 8 or 9 year old grape if I feel I have to.  I like to collect plants, but since our yard is so small, I have little patience for things that are susceptible to disease, don’t produce like gangbusters in my zone, not well suited to where they are in the backyard, or I don’t end up caring for the fruit on.   For other non related reasons, I lost a few other trees this year that I can’t be indited for.

Black Monuka Grape climbing along the veggie garden fence in Early Spring 2008. Planted April 2003. Murdered January 2012

My fellow gardeners would be shocked and dismayed at the plants I have pulled out over the last decade.  This is just my list from this year:

  • Black Monuka European Grape- Although extremely vigorous, grows a few feet each week, and it produced yummy grapes, it didn’t produce very many in comparison to the other grape varieties I grow, even in the years it didn’t suffer from mildew.  I hacked it to the ground last week.
  • FlameEuropean Grape-Technically, it is still alive, but not for very much longer.  Within the next week or so, I will be out there with my loppers, hand saw, and shovel.  We have such foggy summers some years, and this grape regularly has issues with mildew.  I don’t like spraying my trees and vines if I don’t have to.  I would rather grow varieties better suited to our climate and more tolerant of our June gloom.  I like our red Canadice American Hybrid Grape just fine, and it has not had any mildew issues to date.  I see no point in keeping two different red seedless grape varieties that produce so close together.  Out this goes and in goes Interlaken.
  • Apache Blackberry- This was too seedy for my tastes.  I know all blackberries are seedy, but the seeds were all I noticed when eating these.  It was nice that it ripened later than my other blackberries, but I didn’t like it enough to let it keep taking up valuable space. I thought I successfully killed it in the winter of 2009-2010 to give more room to my other berries, but it has tried to resurrect itself again and again.  Throughout this past year, I was persistent in removing any little bits of it by hand.
Flowers of Apache Thornless Blackberry in April 2008. Planted April 2006 - First tried killing it winter 2009. It appears to finally given up in 2011.
  • Indian Summer Red Raspberry- After about 3 or 4 years growing it, I decided that since the berries were small and just okay flavored, I didn’t need to waste anymore space on it.  I like Bababerry SO much better, and it is much more prolific.
  • Kadota Fig- I sold the giant potted fig at a plant sale.  This victim narrowly escaped my neglectful lack of watering, and since it was in a pot, it was easy to rehome.
  • Panamint Nectarine- I didn’t want to lose this very productive standard sized tree.  It was a fabulous tree.  It ran along the original property line adjoining our backyard to the lot behind us.  In 2001, the previous neighbor and we agreed to replace a falling down wood fence and build a block wall to line up to the back side of their garage, not behind it, giving us additional garden space behind their garage.  However, the new owner wanted the wall moved, in order to store wood behind his garage, causing us to lose those 80 square feet of space we had been cultivating for the past decade.  The beautiful tree and all that wonderful fruit will be replaced by a pile of scrap wood.  The demolition and construction mess depressed me so much, I am just now starting to do a bit more gardening back in veggie garden again.  Most of the summer, I stayed out, only picking our berries and tomatoes when necessary.   I bought a replacement Panamint Nectarine tree last week with an H& H nursery gift card my folks gave me…  “Thanks Mom and Dad!”  The hard part of starting over is it will take a number of years to get it to be as productive as the other one was.
  • Babcock Peach – With the same block wall mess, I tried to save this small ultra dwarf tree by pruning it back and potting it up in a 7 gallon size pot to replant later during bare root time.  It appeared okay all summer and fall in its pot.  However, it must have been a little too stressed and it now has sticky sap dripping down all over the trunk from tiny holes.
The Panamint Nectarine covered in blossoms 3 or 4 years ago. I miss this tree.

3 thoughts on “Confession of a Serial Plant Killer

  1. Somehow it is comforting to know that a self-confessed ‘garden nerd’ like yourself sometimes inadvertently kills plants by not getting them into the ground in time. I felt so bad when that happened to a Brazilian pepper tree. I thought it would add a nice green spot to the back of the yard. Then I learned how invasive they are, so it turned out to really be a good thing that tree never got planted.

    Just shared your blog with my daughter who is also interested in organic gardening, backyard chickens and the like. You have a great resource here for So Cal would-be gardeners. Thank you!

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