WELL, the hot weather has arrived with a vengeance and plants of all sorts have put on amazing growth, especially those with deep tap roots.
Roses, in particular, have had an exceptional year from rose-covered arches along the coast to the luxuriant rose gardens of the Generalife in Granada or the Retiro Gardens in Madrid, which we were lucky to visit last month while accompanying a group of American horticulturalists on a weeks tour of Spain.
To have a look at pictures of some of the gardens we visited take a look at our website www.gardeninginspain.com. But, above all, make sure to remember that the hot summer ahead means there is much work to do in the garden, in particular in getting your irrigation systems up to scratch (the drip feed ‘goteo’ irrigation is by far the best) and cutting back weeds.
For June the main tasks in the garden include:
However well your roses may have done they now need heavy pruning to remove the flowered stems and stimulate the formation of follow-on flower buds. You might also want to try spraying an anti-rust fungicide, which for eco-gardeners, like us, means a propolis, or horsetail spray
Roses, tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, squashes and beans will benefit from a comfrey feed now and every month during the summer. To prepare this, place cut leaves in a barrel of water and leaf for two to four weeks. Then start to use the liquid diluting it 1:20 with water – rain water if collected.
Watering is obviously an important task from now on, but remember that it is the deepest roots that need the most water, not just those a few centimetres below the surface. This is especially important for young fruit trees.
Hoe areas of bare soil in the evening to break up the microscopic capillary tubes through which much moisture evaporates in drying soils. Evening hoeing ensures that the soil takes up moisture from the air during the night. Do it in the morning and the sun will dry the loosened soil to dry dust. Naturally closely planted flower gardens and vegetable gardens/raised beds lose less moisture by evaporation than sparsely planted areas. If you have a row of raspberries mulch them with comfrey leaves and chemical-free grass cuttings. We don’t have a lawn, but we use our neighbours cuttings in return for some fruit and vegetables.
The higher temperatures and humidity bring with them plagues of fruit tree pests and fungal spores, so spray your fruit trees every month with an eco spray. We use a propolis/neem mix and if leaf fall is occurring we also add in some nettle infusion. If you don’t want the bother of making up your own sprays look out for the Seipasa, Neudorff and Trabe range of products. These companies now offer products previously only available to commercial organic vegetable and fruit growers.
If not already done, clear dead bulb stems and deadhead the first flowerings of African daisy plants including euryops and margaritas.
Harvest the last of the late mandarins, oranges and apricots and slice and dry the ones you can’t eat. Details of the handy dryer that we use to dry fruits, vegetables and home made health biscuits can be obtained from email@example.com. Dried fruits make good snacks and are healthier than sugar packed jams.
By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe, who have gardened in Spain for over 20 years.