I know it’s not the worst premature problem to have, but I just can’t help myself. And yes, I know I should wait till January to start the big chop down, but I’ve got myself over excited and I’ve started. I comfort myself by the fact that I am not in full swing yet, I am more or less just warming up before the main event starts in January. Anyway here are some things I’ve been doing lately; and if I’m doing them you better get on with them as well.
22nd December: Things I have been doing lately.
Planting next year’s garlic. I don’t really grow vegetables as they are very cheap to buy in this part of Spain. However, the one exception is garlic. I grow it just for fun and it is the easiest thing to grow. Each year at this time (just before Christmas) I take cloves of garlic and plant them in the garden. You can use cloves of garlic from the supermarket, but I use cloves from last year’s crop. The first photo below shows some of the sprouting cloves from last year. These have been kept in the fridge for use since they were harvested in May. So if you plant now you will have free garlic for six months.
I plant the garlic under the trees where I have grown Butternut Squash as the soil here has been fed during the summer. Plant the cloves about a fingers depth deep by just sticking your finger in the soil and pop in a clove. It is best to plant in a recognised shape as if you don’t there is every chance you will hoe off the seedlings as weeds. I plant four cloves in a cross shape either side of the tree trunk. I consider it part of my Christian gardening duty. The second photo below shows a little garlic clove just sticking out of the soil – cute eh!
Pruning fig trees. I have two fig trees and a deep and abiding passion for figs; especially when accompanied with goat’s cheese. Anyway I am digressing and drooling. Fig trees don’t need much pruning, all they really need is trimming back to keep the figs within reach, and thinning in the centre to make sure air and light can get in. One of my fig trees I am attempting to espalier up a wall and along wires. It is early days, but as you can see from the photo below, it looks quite promising.
My other tree is bigger but still needs a bit of a Chop back to ensure it stays in shape. The extent of the pruning can be seen from the two photos below. The first one shows the fig in its pre-pruned state, whilst the second shows it pruned. You have to look closely to see where the pruning has taken place. And that’s a good thing. A little prune each year is better then a drastic cutback every 10 years. Spain is full of giant fig trees that have got out of control and the fruit is so high up only the birds can benefit from them whilst us poor humans are left to slip up on fallen over-ripe fruit. So get out there now and prune your fig tree – you know it makes sense.
Daphne’s Dame de Noche and the Solanum. Regular readers of this blog will know that earlier this year I planted a Dame de Noche cutting for my friend Daphne at the same time as planting Solanum cuttings. Subsequently there was a mix up when my wife Cruella and my friend Karl proceeded to kill the Solanum and then compounded their crime by passing off the Dame de Noche as the Solanum (see September 13th posting for the full story). Anyway, although it still rankles I have moved on (counselling was involved).
Putting all that behind us it is now time to move the misplanted Dame de Noche ready for its future transportation to Daphne, whilst at the same time planting the Solanum cutting where it belongs. Mature Dame de Noche can be pruned right back to bare branches, as I showed a few weeks ago. But young plants need to have some leaf left or they may not recover from the shock of pruning. The first photo below shows the newly pruned Dame de Noche, potted up and ready for future transportation to Daphne once it has stabilised in the early Spring.
The second photo shows the newly transplanted Solanum in its new home. I planted this in a mixture of home made compost and store bought with Pearlite mixed in and some soil from the planting hole. I then watered this well and gave it a small trellis to get it going. Once I have seen it is ok, I will fix wires to the wall to grow it up and along. Watch this space; I am thinking of cameras and trip wires to secure it from Cruella and Karl.
Killing Ivy. I dislike Ivy, I know some of you love it and even grow it out of choice. I find it invasive, and once it gets into soil it takes a lot of hard work to get rid of it. Anyway, I’ve got some, I didn’t want it and never asked for it. Despite my best efforts at digging it up (you need to get every bit or it comes back) and spraying it with weed killer (its waxy leaves make it impervious). My new approach is to cut a number of leaves to break their water tight barrier and then paint them individually with undiluted weedkiller. The picture below taken by my son James shows me gamely painting each leaf. It may look like I am thinning on top, but really, it’s just a trick of the light. I will keep you informed of progress – about the ivy not my hair!