It’s hotting up here in Spain and there is lots to do in the garden. Cruella (my wife) is off to England to see our son, she flew the usual way (with the cat sitting on the back) and that means I can Garden 24 hours a day with short breaks to drink beer.
2nd July: Things I have been doing lately
👨👨👧👧 Emptying the orphanage. To those of you not familiar with a garden orphanage, it consists of those plants still left on the potting bench as Summer hots up. They obviously can’t stay there as it is getting too hot so they are usually planted out into your borders.
Now last year we had a Terrible time with the orphanage. I had sold most of the potting bench plants at our annual Campoverde Open Garden Day and all that was left were the ugly and unwanted. You may not remember, but I do, those nights of pain when I sat on the potting bench with the orphans singing excerpts from “Annie” and trying to keep up everybody’s spirit.
Anyway this year things are different the orphanage is packed with handsome self assured and upwardly mobile plants; its a bit like “Love Island” what ever that is, I was just trying to be cultural relevant. If there was Match.com for plants they would all be successfully dating by now. Look at the photo below, they’re a pretty handsome bunch.
But there is a problem, normally I would plant them out in my borders, but I can’t look at the photo below, the borders are packed, I can barely get water through to the roots, never mind more plants.
The only solution is potting on in gradually bigger pots throughout the summer until the beds start to become clear. So this is my strategy, the orphanage will eventually form the bedrock of late Summer early Spring planting. I’ve started with some little Carnation cuttings which I had started off in tiny pots. The first photo below shows them ready for re-potting. The second photo shows the reason for re-potting that they were getting a bit tight and their small feeder roots were starting to circle inside the pot. The third photo shows them happily re- potted. I have then gone on to the larger plants: the lovely Solanum, Pink Trumpet Vine and some little white trailing Lantana. The fourth photo below shows all the bigger plants in their new pots. I shall continue this process for the other orphans as they reach the limits of their pot. In a few weeks I will probably have to shade them as the summer sun will just be too hot for plastic potted plants. (Click on each photo for an enlarged view).
⛱ Saving the best seed for next Summer. By now your bedding plants and annuals should be in their first and best flowering. As you dead head throughout the Summer the blooms will get smaller and smaller. So, now is the time to mark out the best flowers to save seed from. You need to look for the biggest, best formed and all round handsomest flower heads. None of your equal opportunities stuff, be elitist pick only the best. Mark these flower heads now by placing a piece of white tape directly under the best blooms. This will stop you deadheading them over the next few weeks. Don’t rely on your memory of which were the best blooms, they fade quickly and will look less than their best in a few days. We will come back to this topic at seed gathering time. In the meantime the photo below shows my Marigolds marked up for future glory.
🦅 Netting fruit. Now is the time to net up your fruit trees. I have Figs and Persimmon that need nets otherwise the local bird population become obese. Nets are cheap so splash out, but only buy the fine mesh ones otherwise you will spend every morning releasing fat birds who are hanging upside down in your nets and feeling sick. You may need to add some old CD’s hanging from the trees or some children’s windmills to stop the more adventurous birds having a go. The photos below show some expert netting courtesy of assistance by my friend David.
🚿 Checking irrigation. Now if Cruella was here she would mock me for this section as it is the gardening equivalent of train spotting. But, and I say this with pride, there are some things that we gardener’s need to talk about, and irrigation is one of them.
Now that Summer is in full swing, water is absolutely essential to all plants. You may say, that is not a problem as you have an irrigation system. But do you? You may have had an irrigation system, but you need to check it now. Once set up irrigation systems need checking and adjusting for a range of issues:
Changes in water pressure that require you to readjust settings, blocked up irrigation points that let no water out, and the worst of all broken and splitpipes that mean you are watering Spain as a whole rather than your garden. So now is the time to check your irrigation or you could just go on adding to the water company profits.
The photos below are a sample of the latest problems I have found with my own irrigation systems. The first one shows a blocked irrigation point that was letting no water out, this had to be cleared out with a bent paper clip. The second photo shows a damaged lawn sprinkler point that was watering the sky. The third and fourth photos show splits in pipes at joints. The fourth photo shows a big joint that needed tightening. The last photo is my favourite, a split pipe that must have been celebrated at the water companies AGM with Champagne all round. Click on each photo for spectacular and stunning close ups. And Cruella dares to say that this is not exciting; I have heart palpitations just writing it.