This is a funny old time of year, all the hard work of the big Winter chop down is behind us and the new gardening year has yet to start. There are only two more big Winter jobs but I will cover these in future posts. In the meantime I am wandering round the garden as it sleeps disconsolately looking at plants, tidying things up and doing little jobs.
22nd January: Things I have been doing lately
🌿 Planting succulent cuttings. At the end of the summer I always take some cuttings from succulents such as Aeoniums. These sit on my potting bench for a few months as they gradually take root; they don’t really grow very fast, but they root soundly. If you plant these out now they will have taken nicely before the heat of Summer. The photo below shows my cuttings planted in a reasonably shady area; this is not ideal for succulents but they will be ok.
🔗 Putting up a wire trellis for the famous Solanum. Regular followers of this blog will know that my wife Cruella and my friend Karl have on a number of occasions stopped me growing Solanum (potato plant) from cuttings. They have regularly tortured and destroyed all my attempts by wilfully: underwatering, overwatering, trampling on (and blaming the dogs) and on one occasion saying the cuttings had been destroyed by aliens. They are both currently on trial at the UN.
Anyway, and eventually I managed to hide a new cutting from them and it has now rooted successfully. My aim is to grow it through trellis up one of the pillars in our outside kitchen. Now you can use wooden trellis here in Spain, if you want to, and I do have some. However, if you are growing plants in full sun then the trellis will soon be destroyed by the sun’s rays and you will be left with the horrible job of disentangling a large mature climber from a rotted wood trellis. Far better to grow climbers in full sun on wires.
I have used Vine ties as tensioners on the wire and used a medium wire. This will ensure that the plant will not make the wire sag as it grows, and also enables me to keep a good tension on the wire as the plant gets heavier. At a future date, assuming all goes well with the Solanum, and Cruella and Karl do not sabotage it, then I can extend the wires horizontally to grow the plant across the top of the outside kitchen wall. The three photos below show how rapidly the Solanum is growing; it went into the ground on December 12th – by Easter it will be at the top of the wires at this rate. (click on each picture to see it enlarged).
💡 Resurrecting bulbs. I have no doubt that you remember that last year I put spent Iris bulbs that I had in pots to bed. This involves letting the foliage completely die back, then cutting it down and covering the surface with compost. I then put the pots away under my potting bench and left them for months, slightly watering about every six weeks or so. I check them all the time at this time of the year, and as soon as a green shoot peeps out I place the pots on the potting bench for few more weeks so that I can keep an eye on them. When they are steadily growing I place them in the position they will be for flowering and then water once a week. The photo below shows one of the pots with the Iris getting into their stride. What a comeback can you think of anyone else who made a spectacular return from death?
🔪 Cleaning and sharpening tools. In our busy world people are increasingly stressed, anxious and burnt out. They seek solace in Mindfulness, Yoga and Psychotherapists. But forget all that rubbish just sharpen your tools. Yep, it’s that easy, sit down with some clean cloths, a light oil and either sand paper or a sand paper pad. There is hours of harmless fun to be had in this way, and not only will you benefit, but also your plants will appreciate your efforts. I have been happily esconsed down by the potting bench for hours sharpening away. Cruella says she wishes it was my wits I was working on. When I think of a clever retort I will let you know.