As all of you know the big cut back and garden tidy up is done in January here in Spain. However, there are some exceptions and it’s ok to tidy some things up to make them neater.
1st August, Things I have been doing lately:
🌴 Cutting back some Palms. Different Palms need different approaches. Washingtonia (the big one that is all over the place with large fans at the end of branches) can be tidied up now with no problems as can Sago, Mediterranean Fan Palm etc. However, I would not recommend cutting back Phoenix Palms (the ones with dates and long serrated leaves) at this time of the year as the dreaded Red Palm Weevil is flying about and any wounds in the Palm gives them an opening.
Sago Palms: Large specimens of Sago Palm are very expensive and even small ones under a metre can cost over €200. So you have to be careful when trimming them back. The first photo below shows my Sago needing a trim back to make it tidy and look showy (it’s a Palm thing). The Palm fronds grow out from the stem in concentric rings, cutting from the bottom ring with extendible cutters, cut all the way up till two rings of palm fronds are left. The two ring thing is important, you could cut back to one ring but then if something happened to that ring you lose the whole plant (and that would make you look stupid). The second picture below shows the Sago cut back, looking neat and very handsome.
Fan Palms: I have a number of these grouped in a bed and they self seed like crazy. With this Palm you just need to cut back again until you have at least three rings of fronds from the top. The three is important as the plant has very thin stems and it would look stupid with just two like the Sago (Palms are very sensitive and do not like to be mocked). The photo below shows my Fan Palm duly trimmed back; I forgot to take a before photo and I am not sticking Palms back on just for you, so you can forget that.
Washingtonia: This is probably the most common Palm in Spain, especially since the Palm Weevil has been allowed to destroy the more handsome Phoenix Palm in lots of areas of Spain. Anyway, the Washingtonia can be cut back at various times depending on your preference. Some people like to cut them back in May before they flower as it can be messy. They throw out long flowering branches which produce firstly a small white flower and then small round black seeds. These seeds are expert at getting into gravelled areas and promptly trying to grow new Palms. We let Washingtonia flower as we have lights trained up into trees and this gives a lovely firework effect and also our Labradors eat the seeds (what’s wrong with that have you seen the price of dog food – I am trying to convince them that they are vegetarians). The photo below shows one of our large 20 metre Washingtonia in flower and seed. We have these cut back by experts in January; however, I am trying to convince my wife to go up a ladder and cut the fronds whilst I hold the ladder. She won’t do it she knows I am still smouldering with vengeance for what she did to the tomatoes.
Once last but important thing on Washingtonia. You must cut the branches whilst they are still above the horizontal and before they go too brown. If you don’t then they take on the consistency of iron and will easily blunt your saw – you have been warned. The picture below shows one of our smaller Washingtonia ready for pruning.
🌰 Pick and eat Figs. By now your fig trees should be bursting with fruit. That is if you took my advice and netted them. If not by now you should have lots of fat birds in your garden and no figs. Assuming that you have figs, then you need to go around your tree every morning and gently squeeze each of the figs that you think look ready for harvesting. Ideally they should just be slightly squashy (not too soft) And they should come away in your hand with a slight tug. Place your mornings pickings in a caulander and wash under cold water, leave to dry and stick them in the fridge. The photo below shows my morning pickings (I have to confess that some don’t make it indoors as I scoff them outside). Finally, make sure you keep each days crop seperate so that you can eat them in “Date” order; a little soft fruit joke to send you away with a smile.