WELL, the weather certainly warmed up during June and few gardens had the benefit of even a shower of rain.
So you guessed it… watering the garden is the most important task at present, if you are to save your collection of plants and enjoy your harvests of fruits, herbs and vegetables.
Remember that, whether by a permanent irrigation system, hose pipe or watering can, you must keep the root balls of plants, bushes and trees damp, and that includes the deep nutrient-gathering roots.
So, if you have fruit trees only planted during the last two or three years, a good deep soaking once or twice a week will do more good than a shallow daily watering from a single jet on an irrigation system.
The second most important task is to watch out for signs of summer pests and treat them before they spread. Even better, take preventive actions by:
1. Dusting your grapevines and vegetables with sulphur powder shaken through an old sock
2. Spraying fruit trees each month with a combined neem insecticide and propolis fungicide spray to keep away fruit flies and moths and fungal spores.
Likely summer pests are described in each of our books and ecological solutions are given.
A short pause while I enjoy a juicy nectarine picked just a few minutes ago – how different to the hard fruits often offered in supermarkets that can go rubbery rather than ripe in a fruit bowl.
THINKING about home-grown produce raises a number of gastronomic issues.
1. Although lettuces are going to seed, basil, oregano, pineapple, rocket and Swiss chard leaves make excellent green salads. And what better way to enjoy a plate of sliced tomatoes covered with chopped freshly-harvested oregano and basil doused with a strong tasting extra virgin olive oil.
2. It is great to produce one’s own olive oil but one’s own wine is probably the greater challenge. We don’t have a vineyard but we have just stocked up with young family wines – rather better than heavy matured wines for hot summer days.
3. July will see the last of the nectarines and peaches for most, but the first figs and grapes will be ready for some.
4. Herbs come into their own for summer infusions. Mint as a digestive and to cure hangovers, rosemary to stimulate a heat affected brain and give energy for an evening stroll, lemon verbena or hibiscus flowers for a pleasant mid-afternoon alternative to tea.
5. Talking about infusions we have now planted three new plants, each with attractive foliage, but most importantly health beneficial properties. They are Stevia from South America whose leaves are an alternative to sugar and eaten raw or, as an infusion, have been found by diabetics to reduce their dependence on pharmaceuticals, a trio of South American Kalanchoe plants found to be of benefit to cancer sufferers and Perilla from Japan useful in avoiding stomach effects from fish dishes and in relieving respiratory problems.
Distributors in Andalucia include www.plantaromed.com
Clodagh and Dick’s books can be obtained from bookshops or direct from the publishers on www.santanabooks.com or 952 485 838