I know the above heading may seem a little strange for a gardening blog, but bear with me. It all started when I mentioned to Cruella (my wife) that I was going to grow loofahs from seed. She asked me what was the point as you couldn’t really eat them. When I explained that they were wonderful for skin care and worked wonders on exfoliating dead skin, her eyes lit up. She then archly enquired whether they would be good for warts, when I said possibly, she ran off to immediately contact all her friends in the coven.
It turns out that warts are a big problem in her coven as is the issue of dead skin as most of their bodies are made up of dead skin and various calluses. Any way the upshot is that Cruella is setting up an online skin care business for witches. All I’ve got to do is grow the loofahs!
3rd April. Things I have been doing lately:
🧽 Sowing Loofahs. I was given a loofah pod by my friend Eric, and I have extracted lots of seeds; whilst the actual loofah sits proudly in my shower. The starting point for successful loofah growing is to soak the seed for at least 48 hours in warm water (every time the water gets cold just refresh it). After 48 hours the seeds will have plumped up a little and be ready for sowing. Sow each seed in a four inch pot with rich compost by pushing the seed about 2cm into the compost. You then have to keep it warm – they don’t like to get cold. I put my pots into my little mini greenhouse and after two weeks they are beginning to sprout.
I will keep you abreast of events as they unfold. The first photo below shows some of my precious seeds. The next photo shows my soaking seeds. The final photo shows my emerging loofahs; this time next year I will be a skin care millionaire in a specialist market.
If anyone would like some seeds and you live near Pinar de Campoverde then let me know. Click on each photo for a larger view.
⛳️ Taking care of the lawn. I understand that not everyone has a lawn here in Spain. However, if you have, then it is time to start your lawn care programme. Most grasses, but not all, will have started to spring into growth. The first thing to do is to run the mower over the lawn with the blades set high, this will serve just to neaten things up and remove any debris that has accumulated over Winter.
The next thing to do is give the grass its first feed of the year. I tend to use granulated feeds dispensed from my spreader. Make sure you water your feed in unless it is expected to rain. Next you should do some patch repairs where you have bald areas. Both of our marauding Labradors will dig in the lawn given half a chance, so patch repairs are a constant part of my gardening. I do not have a good track record with general or even specialist grass seeds. However, I have found that the mixed seed and feed patch product shown in the photo below works well.
The first photo shows my trusty lawn mower. This is followed by my feeding stuff and then the patch stuff. The final photo is taken as I sit under the Mulberry tree after the work is finished. This is my favourite spot after working on the lawn. Click on each photo for a larger view.
🌻 Growing sunflowers. Regular readers of this blog will know that I suffered the great 2020 seedling disaster last year, when my little mini greenhouse blew over in strong winds and all my seedlings were destroyed. Cruella denied all knowledge of what happened, but I’m not too sure, as for weeks afterwards every time I went out she would mockingly blow me a kiss!
This year, apart from my loofah enterprise, I am growing sunflowers and Marigolds. I love both these plants as they flower all summer and make a good contrast to the early flowering Osteospermums. If you get your sunflowers in over the next few weeks they will gain sufficient height so that the Marigolds or similar can then be used as under planting.
The sunflowers are being planted in those little fibrous pots that you can plant straight into the ground once they are hardened off. The photos below show my little (but soon to be giant) sunflowers ready to be planted out. The next photo shows my mighty array of canes some are designed for the plants to grow up, others are part of my defensive line (It is a bit like the Marginot line in the First World War) to keep the marauding Labradors at bay. Click on each photo for a larger view.
🌼 Pricking out my Marigolds. Those of you who have grown Marigolds before will know how easy they are to grow. However, I haven’t grown Marigolds for a couple of years as I kept using my same seed from the year before and eventually they lost vigour. But this year I am starting afresh with a pack of orange and another of mixed. As usual they have germinated very well and I am now at the stage of pricking them out
I am using using individual cell blocks rather than normal seed trays, as this makes transplanting easier with little root disturbance. Once the seedlings have at least two “true”leaves then they can be pricked out. To prick out successfully I use my trusty pencil which I have had for over 20 years. Ease a clump of seedlings out using a pencil or similar, then use the pencil to gently separate out the roots. Make sure that you do not pick the seedlings up by their stem as this will damage them. Instead hold them gently by a leaf and then lower them into pre dibbed holes in your tray. When you water them afterwards make sure to water from below as you can damage the new seedlings with fierce watering. Once complete put them somewhere sheltered with full light and in a week or so you can begin to harden them off outside for a few hours each day before eventually planting out.
The first photo below shows my successfully germinated seeds ready for pricking out. The second photo shows my pencil pricking out technique. The third photo shows me midst pricking out. And, finally some of my seedlings successfully transplanted. I eventually ended up with 144 plants. Not bad for a couple of packs of seed. Click on each photo for a larger view.