This was going to be a straightforward gardening blog packed full of all the things we gardeners need to get on with at the end of Summer; it was to be calming and reflective instilling peace into our souls. All of this has been destroyed by the return of the little white chicken from the grave. How it happened was this. I was calmly digging holes for bulbs when I caught a flash of movement from the corner of my eye, and there walking towards me was the little white chicken! Yes, the one I buried just the other week. I will tell you more later, I need to talk about gardening to keep me sane.
23rd October 2022. Things I have been doing lately:
Making a bulb plan. Bulbs are not something that we often think of for our gardens here in Spain. In most gardens it is all succulents and gravel, however, bulbs can give your garden an added delight in the Spring and late Autumn. You can plant bulbs individually, in drifts dotted throughout your lawn or in dramatic clumps springing up as islands of beauty in your gravelled areas.
There are lots of online bulb suppliers who will deliver a range of healthy bulbs ready for you to plant now or in the Spring. I favour an organisation called “Farmer Gracy”who have a superb on line catalogue and excellent service and delivery. But there are many others. Or you could just buy a few packets of bulbs from your local garden centre. The photo below shows the delight of my bulbs arriving for autumn planting.
But don’t just rush out and begin planting. If you do, you will never remember where things are planted, you need to make a bulb plan. Just basically measure your planting area and draw up a simple plans that shows you where you have planted your bulbs. Drawing the plan up also helps you to reflect upon which bulbs will go where. You can then allow for shade, full sun and companion planting. The photo below shows the start of my bulb plan process.
The photos below show some examples of my various bulb plans. Every garden is obviously different, but a bulb plan will make you think it all through, it will also tell you what you planted, where you planted them and in what quantity. Click on each photo for a larger view.
It is important to remember that not all bulbs are the same; some will need special treatment before planting such as chilling or soaking but mostly they are very straightforward. Just remember the golden rule “pointy end” faces up. The photos below show some of my bulb planting activities. The first photos shows some anemones being soaked before planting out in a shady area with companion planting of Kaffir Lillies. The next photo shows some tulips ready for clump planting. The final photo shows how I mark each bulb planted area with a white stone. This is essential as it will stop me hoeing off the new shoots and guide my companion planting in the Spring. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Finally a couple of photos of me with my new super duper heavyweight bulb planter. You will definitely need one of these if like me you plan some drift planting across your lawn. Even with this tool you will need heavy rain or a good watering to make your Spanish lawn soft enough to plant through grass. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Time to remove fruit netting. By now all the fruit should be off your trees and there is no need for netting to remain in place. It is good practice to take netting down as it stops birds being caught up in raggedy nets and obviously you can’t prune back in Spring with nets on. Don’t try and save nets for next year as it is just not worth it, just cut them off. The photo below shows my net removing efforts and some last minute fruits. Click on each photo for a larger view.
There is one danger you should remember when removing nets from fig trees, apart from falling off the ladder and breaking your neck, and that is burns from fig sap. Stupidly I ignored my normal advice of wearing covering clothes, and instead pulled the net off wearing just a vest and shirts. The result was a series of sap burns to my skin. The photos below show you just some of the damage so be careful, especially at pruning time, and only prune in January when the sap has stopped rising. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Time to plant out your spring cuttings. Sometimes you will have plants sitting on your potting bench and they seem as if they have been there forever doing nothing, then suddenly they come to life as they have made sufficient root to begin growing. I have just planted out a Stephanotis and a Jasmine and will soon plant out a rose, all of which have come into growth spurts. I can thoroughly recommend taking cuttings, there is nothing as satisfying as seeing a little twig you potted up six months ago suddenly come to life. The first photo below shows the little Jasmine in its new home, followed by the Stephanotis ready to propel itself up a trellis. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Take Dipladenia cuttings. If you have Dipladenia, and lots of you do, because it is now very popular in Spain, then why not take some cuttings. Just cut off some strongly growing stems (with a knife never secateurs), pinch out the lower leaves, leaving just a few at the top. Then dip in rooting hormone if you have it (not essential) and plant them in fours around the side of a four inch pot. They probably won’t all root, but you will definitely get some new plants out of the process and it’s free. The photos below show how simple it is. Click on each photo for a larger view.
The resurrection of the little white chicken. As a Christian I obviously believe in resurrection, but not for chickens. So it was to my amazement that I witnessed the second coming of the little white chicken. There it was strolling around the garden spying on me as usual, despite the fact I had recently buried it. I confronted Cruella (my wife) about this phenomenon and her only comment was “oh is she back already, good, we have work to do”. I’ve checked the grave it’s empty.
You know the worse thing? The little white chicken is now accompanied by a small black chicken with a white head, who is now its evil companion. I accused Cruella (my wife) of conducting Frankenstein like experiments with chickens and mixing body parts, which she of course denied. But I know something is up because every time she sees the little white chicken she shouts out “she lives” and cackles like a maniac. The photos below show Cruella speaking chickenese to her new, or recycled girls! Click on each photo for a larger view.
Finally, Cruella (my wife) has adopted a new chicken hairstyle that she affects when marching her girls up and down the garden as they chant in chickenese. I am thinking of moving.