Every year I convince/coerce a number of local gardeners to open their gardens for the day to the general public. The idea is that people can wander round the gardens hear from the gardeners what they are trying to achieve and everyone can give and receive tips. Everything is free including the refreshments all we ask is a small donation to Campoverde Church. All was going well I had tidied up the garden using my blower. There was not a leaf or unsightly twig in sight, Cruella (my wife) had brushed all around the swimming pool, we were looking good. That was until enormous winds swept through Campoverde. When I say winds, I mean the type that carried Dorothy to Oz. The end result was that the garden was covered in Pine needles and other tree detritus, to add insult to injury it rained, but not your normal rain; we had the dreaded Sahara rain that brings sand with it!. So not only did we have Pine needles but also sand dunes. Hey ho, the joys of gardening.
24th May: Things I have been doing lately
Making sure Marigolds flower abundantly. Marigolds love it here in Spain and we gardeners reciprocate that love. But first you have to be cruel to be kind. Marigolds will try and give you one single flower, but we obviously want more. To achieve this you must pinch out the main flower as soon as it becomes visible. You can do this either with secateurs or if you are a real gardener by using your long specially grown thumbnails (see previous post). But it gets worse, not only do you need to pinch out this first flower, you also need to pinch out the next two side shoot flowers that will appear within a week or so. By doing this you will send the plant into panic mode and it will proceed to send out multiple flowering stems all over the plant. After this you need only deadhead as normal when the flowers are spent. We will return to this topic in a few weeks time, but in the meantime the photo below shows a lead flower ready for pinching out.
A warning about using old seed. You may remember that I did some repair work to an area of lawn the other week. I put a layer of new topsoil onto a patch where the dogs had decided to dig, I sprinkled it with seed and duly covered it with fleece to protect it from birds. What I didn’t tell you because I was too ashamed, was that I decided to use some old grass seed left in the bottom of a box in my shed. To be honest I think it was about two years old. But as it was only a small patch of lawn I was too mean to buy another whole box. Well, false economy, a month later, despite dutiful twice daily watering I removed the fleeece to reveal not nice new grass, but the same seed lying there staring back at me. I could kick myself because it is now too late to reseed as the heat would just cook it. So the moral of the story is throw away old seed as it will probably be unviable after a year or so. The photo below shows my bald patch which Cruella considers quite funny and tells everyone I now have two bald patches.
Early crop figs removal. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that I love figs with a passion. Figs coupled with goat’s cheese is my favourite. Having said that you may find it surprising that I am to be found cutting out the early crop of figs on one of my fig trees. Well the truth of the matter is that it was difficult and emotional. For the first time this year one of my fig trees has produced an early crop of figs. Mature figs will normally produce two crops, this usually happens when the tree is over 5 years old. Well, it happened this year the fig tree produced its first early crop for its birthday. Unfortunately, this early crop doesn’t really mature on a young tree and the danger is that if you leave this crop on the tree too long, then it will stymie the growth of the second crop which is the one you really want.
Are you with me? I feel I’m losing some of you. To repeat if I leave the early crop on we will end up with a small unripe second crop, which in turn means no figs and goat’s cheese for me. So I had to take drastic action and cut out the early crop. The first picture below shows some of the early crop waiting at the bottom of a trug to be condemned to the compost bin – I know they look healthy but they taste like cardboard. The second picture shows the early crop on the tree before removal if you look carefully where the big red circles are you can see the second crop coming through. Let’s hope I’m not making a mistake.
Some pictures of my garden. This year for Open Garden Day we added the great innovation of overhead drone pictures of the gardens. My friend David (who is not a gardener) has a “state of the art” drone and I managed to convince him to stop wasting his time making his drone follow him around as he usually does, and instead step into the giddy world of gardening. Armed with David’s technical expertise and lovely gardens we managed to get stunning photographs of most of the gardens. The photos below show some areas of my garden, and if you look carefully that figure clad in a white vest standing in the outside kitchen; yes you’ve guessed it it’s me; Cruella is standing next to me, but unfortunately she is not visible in daylight. Click on each picture to see it full size.
I’m leaving Cruella in charge of the garden. I’m going back to our English house for just over a week and have to leave Cruella in charge of the garden. I have given her strict written instructions and have walked her through everything. But, I’ll be frank, this is a bit like leaving a Fox in charge of a hen house; no good can come of it. Cruella has just read this over my shoulder and has started calling herself “foxy”, heaven help us.
The photo below shows the potting bench as it should be, I spent last night praying with all the plants for deliverance from evil.