No not Nero the Roman Emperor who burned Rome down whilst fiddling, but Nero one of our Labradors who has a penchant for similar levels of destruction without the musical accompaniment. I wouldn’t mind but I had just dealt with his previous mining activity only a few day before. My lawn is beginning to look like the 4,o00 holes in Blackburn Lancashire mentioned by the Beatles.
All of this hole filling is taking me away from the excitement of getting Spring going in the garden. But never mind here we go, let’s get gardening.
4th April – Things I have been doing lately:
🐶 Repairing the lawn. Because of Nero’s particular habit of mining my lawn I have to repair the grass in such a way that he cannot go back to the same spot. To achieve this I use a fine mesh wire laid over the repaired spot. Firstly, I fill the hole with a mixture of 2/3rds top soil and one third compost. The hole is slightly overfilled and then rolled or trodden down till it is level. Secondly, I sow a particularly hardy type of gramma seed that is suitable for our hot climate here in Spain. This also has the advantage of being coated with a bird repellent. Thirdly, I peg down my wire mesh protective cover to stop him re-digging in the future. Finally, I cover the whole thing with a protective fleece to provide the new seed with a good environment and just in case the bird repellent doesn’t work. After all this I water and make sure the seed never fully dries out. The photos below show the process (click on each photo for a larger image).
🌱 Sowing late Autumn perennial seeds. Every year I swear that I will sow seeds of late Autumn perennials so that I can fill the gaps in my borders left by Marigolds and Marguerites. But every year I get swept up in Summer gardening and forget. By the time the gaps appear it is too late and I am left cursing big unsightly gaps in my borders. Now you may say, “why not just go out and buy a few plants”. But for me that wouldn’t be gardening, that’s shopping, and if you don’t know the difference, stop reading now. The real joy of gardening is growing things from seeds or cuttings. Occasionally you may have to buy the odd plant to get access to cuttings etc, but I have neighbours and friends who purchase a new garden full of plants every Summer.
If you would like an enjoyable and cost effective way to garden then try growing some seeds. It is fun and even if things go wrong a pack containing 100’s of seeds cost a fraction of what a mature plant will. I am planting three late Autumn perennials: Gaura Lindheimeri, Geum Blazing Sunset and Verbena. The photos below show me about scatter the seeds on to a mixture of compost with added Perlite. The final photo shows them getting acclimatised in our Games Room as I have no space in my little mini greenhouse. (click on each photo for a larger image).
✂️ Taking cuttings from Carnations. Carnations love the sun of Spain and can grow in really hot full sun. But after a while they can get woody and the centre dies back. Now you can deal with this in one of two ways. Using two spades you can half or even quarter the plant, pull out the dead parts and plant each part back and with a bit of luck you will have nice new plants. The other way is to take cuttings. But with Carnations you don’t actually cut. Look for strong non-flowering stems and then just pull the end off whilst holding the main stem.
After gathering a few fresh stem ends, strip back the bottom leaves, dip into hormone powder (don’t worry if you haven’t got any) and then plant 4 or so close to the edge of a four inch pot. Keep this in the shade for 2/3 days so the cuttings get acclimatised and to stop them drying out in the sun. After this treat them like a normal cutting. What’s not to like free plants. The photos below show the process and end with happy little cuttings bedding down they will be ready to plant out in September. (click on each photo for a larger image).
🍊 Stripping suckers off Orange trees. By now your Citrus trees should be in blossom, so if you haven’t pruned them this year, don’t do it now if you want fruit next year. But what you can do is strip off suckers from the trunk and lower branches of your tree. Suckers are those fresh (very green looking) little mini branches that spring out of the bark. Most old trees will “sucker” as they try to open up new routes for sap. The problem with suckers is that they take the energy away from the tree in unproductive areas. You want all the goodness to go into the fruiting branches so suckers have to go.
It is easy to get rid of suckers in the early stages before they get “woody” just don your gardening gloves and pull each sucker straight down; it will come away easily in your hand. If you leave them you will need to use seccateurs. The photo below shows me actively “suckering”.
🧙♀️ Cruella’s good works. People some times ask me what Cruella (my wife) does during the Summer months when she cannot go out during the day without turning into a pile of ash when hit by sunlight. Well the answer is good works. But let me explain, she doesn’t actually do good works I have to fool her into thinking that she is doing something to further the cause of Witchcraft; her real interest.
Anyway at the moment we have a campaign to buy Easter Eggs for the children of Orihuela Orphanage, and are asking local people to donate chocolate eggs. We have been very successful and almost have the 80 eggs we need. In addition our local Pub (the Rusty Nail) has been collecting funds for us and raised a magnificent sum to support the Church and get the orphans those extra eggs. To involve Cruella and keep her out of the Sun I have made her Treasurer and she has to count the money. I couldn’t mention the orphans of course so I told her it was to buy broomsticks for needy witches in Africa.
The photo below shows Cruella happily counting the “broomstick” fund. She was so pleased to be involved that she even bought her own Security t-shirt.