Cruella (my wife) left for our English house the other day she flew off after our Open Garden Day to see our idiot son and left me with strict instructions on how to take care of the chickens. She left early on the Monday morning but it was raining and she slipped twice on the lawn as she was taking off. Eventually all went well and she soared off into the lowering clouds leaving only a small band of bedraggled and soaked chickens standing in the middle of the lawn waving their little homemade Russian flags. I didn’t even know chickens could knit! Anyway, on with the gardening.
3rd June 2023. Things I have been doing lately:
June is a funny month; yes it is summer, but not quite the real hot summer. You will need to be cutting back some things whilst at the same time planting and sowing.
Cutback and reshaping. There are a number of plants you will need to trim up now or they will become shapeless over the summer.
Jasmine. By now your Jasmine should have had its first flowering. Now that this is over you will need to trim your plant back in two ways. Firstly, if it is growing up a trellis or wires then make sure it is not flopping over at the top and shading all the growth underneath. What may look to you like a nice green plant may in fact be totally brown underneath. Just hold the plant up and shear off the top excess growth. Secondly, put on your gardening gloves and run your hand up and down the plant taking out all the dead brown growth. This will easily come away, do not try to trim this with secateurs as you will only cut off long stems and ruin the shape of the plant. The photo below shows me holding up and cutting off the top growth.
Trim shaped trees. If you have cloud pruned or just shaped some of your trees, then now is the time to give them a light trim to bring them back into shape. Any major pruning should be left until January. The photos below show my various trees after their summer trim. These include:
- Mulberry trimmed back to keep its umbrella shape to provide shade.
- Olive cloud pruned into balls; to keep this pleasing shape you need to trim three times a year.
- Variegated Ficus cloud pruned (amorphously) to allow sight lines into my dry garden.
- The big ficus given a gentle trim so that the Cheshire Cat can smile down upon me.
- Californian False Pepper and a Myrtle-leaf Milkwort shaped to both give a sense of presence at the end of my drive. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Cutback suckers on Palms. lots of people in Spain have lovely stately Palm trees but unfortunately leave ugly secondary suckers growing from the bottom of the trunk. You may think you are growing a new Palm tree but you are not, you are just allowing suckers to take away from the overall strength of your tree. The best thing to do is get out your bow saw and trim these off as neatly as you can. They will probably grow back a couple of times, but just keep at it. The tree will look much neater and you won’t get spiked every time you pass by. The photos below show my various palm protuberances and the solution. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Time to take last years lemons off your tree. Most lemon trees will now have both last years lemons (yellow and a bit squishy) and this years (green and the size of a table tennis ball). This results in the tree being in a bit of a quandary. It needs to get rid of the old lemons as they are hindering it feeding the new crop, hence they are dropping off every day. But you think that your lemons may get bigger and then you will pick them. I hate to tell you this, but they won’t, the tree doesn’t want to know them, they are so last year. It is time to pick off as many of the old lemons as possible and use them how you will:
- Make lemon drizzle cakes
- Get drunk on Limoncello
- Make lemon curd
There are many ways to use your lemons, but all of them require vast quantities of sugar, which you know isn’t good for you. So, why not do what I do? Take all the lemons off your tree, juice them and store them in plastic orange juice bottles or milk bottles (wash the bottles of course). Then put them in the freezer and bring them out one at a time as you use them throughout the year. I put lemon juice in every glass of water I drink, whilst Cruella consumes it in pints of Gin. It is up to you, but look at Cruella, compared to me, you know what makes sense. The photos below show the process which starts by removing chickens. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Taking care of the chickens. As I mentioned earlier, Cruella has left me precise written instructions on how to take care of the chickens. Two copies, one for me and the chickens have one. Every morning I am met by a delegation of chickens demanding their rights and quoting the various sub sections of Cruella’s instructions. But I don’t speak chickenese so I just shrug my shoulders and make random clucking noises, which infuriates them. After half an hour of chicken ranting that falls upon my deaf ears, they all turn in one choreographed move and show me their rears in a sign of chicken contempt. I get my own back though as I refuse to feed them the expensive fried insects that Cruella gives them. I leave their little bowl just outside their reach. I know it’s cruel, but you don’t know what those chickens have put me through. Click on each photo for a larger view.