My garden has suffered the desolation of Mordor and Cruella has taught her chickens to hunt as a pack!

I’m back, I know I didn’t tell you I was away mainly because I now work on a need to know basis, as every time I go away Cruella (my wife) and her fancy chickens devastate the garden. Well enough is enough I broke down In tears when I saw the neglect and wilful damage they had inflicted on the garden. The photos below speak for themselves. Click on each photo for a larger view.

To make matters worse whilst I was berating Cruella for the damage she and her fancy chickens had caused, she just sat there stroking the little white one and whispering chickenese into its ear like some Bond villain. Just then I caught a slight movement under a fig tree as the chickens operating in unison had stalked a little bird and made it fly into the fig net. The photos below show the hunting party setting off, followed by their lookout who is set to keep a eye on me. The next photo shows “big Bertha” stalking like a lioness under the fig tree. The final photos show the poor little bird that I managed to rescue and free. Click on each photo for a larger view.

This is in danger of becoming a chicken blog, so let’s get on with the gardening.

24th September 2022. Things I have been doing lately:

Gathering seeds. Now we are moving towards autumn it is time to look around your garden for seed heads to provide you with next year’s plants. In my garden at this time of year, there are usually seedheads to be gathered from:

  • Marigolds
  • Sun flowers
  • Trumpet vine
  • Loofahs
  • Jasminium

And so much more as we move into autumn. Even if you have never grown from seed , why not try it, it can prove very addictive. The photos below show an array of seed heads picked and ready to be processed. Click on each photo for a larger view.

Most seed are very easy to process. The photos below show how to harvest Marigold seeds. First only pick the seed heads when they are fully dry and completely brown with no sign of green. Then rub off the top part of the seed head which is made up of a rough nape. Following this roll the seed head between your thumb and forefinger pressing gently to crush the seed head and release the seeds. When you have all the seeds let them fall between your palms as you blow gently to separate the seed from the chaff. Finally store the seeds in an envelope till you need them next year. Click on each photo for a larger view.

Processing Loofahs. I gave lots of loofah seeds out during my open garden day so I am sure you will all now be ready to reap your harvest. The secret with loofahs is that you must leave them till they are completely dry, brown and wrinkled (yes, I know, just like me). The secret to knowing if they are ready for harvesting is to shake the pods, and if you can hear the seeds rattling free inside, then they are ready.

To harvest loofahs you just follow these simple steps:

  1. Use your secateurs to clip the pods off leaving about 2cm of stem.
  2. Then holding the pod upright just use your thumb to flip open the top of the pod by pressing on the side of the stem. This will easily come away leaving a hole the size of 2€ coin.
  3. All you need to do then is to pour the seeds out into your hand.
  4. Next grasp the now empty pod between your hands and gently crush it to loosen the skin covering the pod.
  5. Peel off the pod skin
  6. And there you have it a lovely loofah to keep your skin supple and beautiful.

I would let you have some, but Cruella takes my whole crop and sells them to her coven as nose wart removers. The whole process is shown below. Click on each photo for a larger view.

Tying up Cannas. At this time of the year large cannas can begin to look a bit untidy. But don’t chop them down! You need all the goodness from the stems to start flowing back into the corm (ugly bulb) which will form next years plant . So for now you need to tie your cannas into an upright position for a couple of months till they get really scraggy, brown and raggedy, (yes, I know we have already had that joke).

I use broomsticks for this as they are strong enough to bang into the ground and tie the canna up even in strong winds. This year I bought myself some new broomsticks and Cruella thought I had bought her a present. I didn’t have the heart to tell her so I fitted her broom on a new stick. The photos below show the process. Click on each photo for a larger view.

Clearing borders and applying mulch. By now a lot of the plants in your borders will be well past their best. Once you have collected any seed that you want, then it is time to clear your borders and get them ready for cutings, seedlings and bulbs. Because not all plants die off conveniently at the same time, it is better to do this in stages. Don’t be tempted to just clear everything because a few plants are looking untidy. There are two main benefits of leaving plants a bit longer. Firstly, as already mentioned it allows seed heads to mature. But secondly, and just as important it allows the birds and insects to feed on the decaying plants. Sometimes it pays to be an untidy gardener for a few weeks.

The photos below show the start of my border clearing process and the application of a thick rich mulch to renews the soil. My friend Hilary has just started composting and is excited to get going and it may sound slightly pathetic but nothing beats the sight and smell of your first home made compost. Cruella just shouted out “shut up you idiot”, but she has her chickens all I have is my compost. Click on each photo for a larger view.

Author: spanishgarden

I live in both Spain and the UK and am a very keen gardener. I garden every day and enjoy sharing all the secrets that God allows us to discover in our gardens.

2 thoughts on “My garden has suffered the desolation of Mordor and Cruella has taught her chickens to hunt as a pack!”

  1. I think our climate is much the same as yours, but Cannas just do there thing. We never really get frost so I eventually chose everything down to 4 inch stumps in December or January. After everything has died back a bit I then divide and normally give the corms to friends. My Canna are Russian Red and they have those long flower spikes with clusters of quite small flowers. They can look spectacular for a while.
    After about 5 months with no rain in Spain we have now had two days of dramatic downpours. All my water butts are full in one night.


  2. Wow, your Canna look bad. I think of your climate as very similar to ours, but our Canna are still growing and blooming. They should continue until their sudden and impressively ugly demise by minor frost. However, if there is no frost, they merely get shabby through winter, and then try to keep their old foliage as new canes develop through it. It is a bit of work to prune out the old growth from the new. Therefore, I prefer to cut it all down prior to new growth at the end of winter. Contrary to recommendations, I cut the canes to the ground, rather than leaving stubs. I also dig and divide crowded rhizomes at the same time.
    Anyway, do your canna bloom with those big and flashy blooms, or those more ribbony type flowers? Are they generally sterile (with perhaps a few seed), or do they generate an abundance of seed? They look like ‘Red King Humbert’ to me, which blooms with garish orangish red flowers, but produces no seed. However, they could alternatively be Canna musifolia, which blooms with ribony flowers and produces seed. I should have remembered your Canna.


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