Autumn Garden Update 2019: Tuscan melons!

by The Darwinian Doctor

Newer readers might be surprised to discover that I’m an avid gardener as well as a personal finance nut. In today’s post, I’ll give an update on my fig saplings, my lemon tree, and a newcomer to the garden: Tuscan melons.

It is in fact autumn here in Los Angeles, although you wouldn’t know it from the temperature. This past weekend, it hit a blistering 90 degrees Fahrenheit!  Even though the thermometer isn’t cooperating, my garden is definitely readying itself for a short nap over our “cold” season.  

Jelly fig saplings

These little guys had a great year of growth. I harvested these cuttings off their mother tree over a year ago, and with the magic of rooting hormone, they’re turning into jelly fig trees in their own right.

They only produced one edible fig between the two of them this summer, but they both had a lot of branch growth. Next month, I’ll probably do a little pruning to get them ready for their spring rejuvenation. I’m expecting great things from them next year.

The lemon tree

In the same garden patch where I’m growing the elephant fig tree, I also have a lemon sapling. This sapling has been through a lot this year. I pruned off a lot of growth in the beginning of the growing season and have had it lashed to supports, trying to force it to grow straight up and down. It’s a few years old at this point, and I’m happy to report that it is finally starting to produce fruit!

The Darwinian Dr-ess and I are looking forward to harvesting lemons from our very own tree. We use lemons in a lot of our cooking, so they’ll surely come in handy. I think the lemons will be ready to pick by late winter/early spring.

Tuscan melons

Another exciting development has been the successful planting of some melon seeds that we pulled from a Tuscan style melon earlier in the summer.

For any melon connoisseurs out there, you’re likely familiar with the Tuscan melon. In contrast to the often tasteless green melon that’s used as filler in American fruit salad, the Tuscan style melon is known for its distinctive grooved stripes and intense sweet flesh. They are a fantastic snack on their own, or even better, draped with prosciutto.

The best way to eat a melon?

The Dr-ess and I enjoyed these melons during a trip to Italy earlier in our marriage, and were happy to see them in our local market a few months ago. We saved the seeds, and planted them in a couple of locations in our garden.

The seedlings didn’t do so well in our raised gardening bed that I made earlier this year. I think the spot I chose for the bed is just too exposed to the harsh Los Angeles sun. It sits right between the lemon tree and the elephant fig tree, and gets baked by the mid-afternoon sun.

But in a slightly shadier location, the melon seedlings have really taken off. There’s one medium sized melon, and we’ve recently spotted a small baby melon as well!

Some of the vines’ leaves look like they might be suffering from a bit of a leaf fungus, which is common in my area. A bit of fungicide might be in order.

Want tips on growing melons? I found this site helpful: Growing Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melons


I really enjoy gardening. It’s a lot like investing money, actually. With slow and steady effort, you can be rewarded with the “fruits” of your labor that can be harvested when the time is right.

The financial industry has made index fund investing fairly effortless, and it remains a mainstay of my investing plan. I see index fund investing like planting wheat: reliable and boring, but guaranteed to feed the masses.

Index funds differ from agriculture in that you have the interesting option of harvesting both gains (via selling appreciated shares) and losses (via tax-loss harvesting. I’m going to give tax-loss harvesting a try during the next downturn, and if it works out, I’ll certainly post a how-to guide about this.

Real estate investing, my obsession for the last year, seems more like (legally) planting marijuana. A lot more red tape and rules to learn, but potentially a much bigger payoff down the road.

In any case, I wish you good gardening and investing success, no matter the season.


How are your gardening projects going this autumn? Please comment, share, and subscribe!

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