quite most contrary,
How does your garden grow?
Radishes and lettuces,
And cabbages all of a row.
The beans were finally past it to the extent that José had helpfully cut them down for me and left the stems in a heap. The remaining beans had a nasty case of black fly. Not good.
Orders for the following day were to visit the garden centre first thing for some seeds. While my gardening is pretty laid-back and minimal, I do follow a few principles, which are basically not just organic but veganic, which avoids the use of animal slaughterhouse products, so for example, I don’t use hoof and bone or whatever it is that people throw on their gardens.
I don’t want to be eating Agent Orange or its descendants. I don’t want my dogs or any other animals, birds or insects to be eating it either. I want to eat freshly grown vegetables not poison. I do use companion planting. Studies have shown that some companion planting works, on other combinations, the jury is still out. Either way, it isn’t going to do any harm so why not give it a go?
No deep digging
The best part of the soil is the first few inches, and the only animal product I use is from the chicken shed where the manure breaks down the straw and any food remains (veg and corn and wheat) into a fine compost, I chuck it on the top from time to time and use it when I put plants in. When I remember.
I follow the classic legumes, brassicas, roots rotation. I’m debating whether or not to include a separate potato rotation to extend the time between the subsequent brassica crop to avoid club-root. When I was tidying up the bean plot before sewing the brassica seeds I found a number of errant peas sprouting away. I figured José had ‘helpfully’ popped them in. Thanks José, but this is no longer the legume plot, it is now dedicated to brassicas (and lettuce). They got moved into little plant pots of their very own. I am quite fascinated with the local (commercial) crop-growing in Spain, there seems to be no semblance of rotation at all. Plenty of pesticides though. And black plastic.
On my shopping list, after perusing half a dozen gardening books, were different varieties of radish, lettuce, cabbage, white turnips and purple sprouting broccoli. Companion planting for brassicas includes tagetes, nasturtiums and dill so they were added to the list.
The garden centre was a disappointment. Apart from the fact that it had more than halved in size – no luxury planting in the garden when Spain is short of cash – the former greenhouses were totally overgrown. So sad.
As for the seeds, there were no turnips or broccoli. I settled for some long radishes and some round ones, some cabbage and some lettuce. No choice of varieties. I also bought a pack of artichoke seeds.
No nasturtiums, but I did buy four tagetes and some basil, coriander and chives. So not a total disaster. I didn’t buy dill because I wasn’t sure whether or not it was eneldo in Spanish. Turned out it was.
Seeds – €1.45
Herbs – 90 cents each
Flowers – 75 cents each
Not content with that, a few days later I zapped off to the local garden shop in the village. Despite being a small village we have not one, but two garden shops, plus the huge veg wholesale corrida, because we are a major centre for crop growing.
The local garden shop is one of those dark intimidating Spanish places that I have never visited. Not helped by the fact that it also seems to be the meeting place for all the old boys in the village who hang around outside most of the day. This could be on account of the fact that the woman who works there is a rather good-looking and trim blond.
But nothing ventured, and I noticed they had dill/eneldo outside so I went inside and asked the price. Eighty cents. The veg seeds were £1.20. No wonder all the locals use it. The garden centre just lost a punter. I bought white turnip seeds and a dill plant.
Trouble is, planting seeds and herbs doesn’t take long, so then I embarked on cutting back the winter jasmine. Scalped it, in fact. Every single one of my neighbours commented that it was depilado. Shaven not scalped.
The itchy green fingers wanted to buy some more herbs though. So I skipped down to the village shop yet again and bought thyme and oregano. Herbs in Spanish are las aromaticas, which is a nice name I think.
My radishes germinated in three days, the lettuces a day or two later. Cabbages after around a week. The white turnips were around a week as well. The artichokes took a full two weeks. Or the only artichoke to germinate so far took two weeks.
I watered first thing in the morning ie at first light and then again in the evening, using water from the butt that had been standing for a few days rather than straight from the tap. I also used a sprinkler rose on the watering can rather than gushing loads of water all over the delicate seedlings.
While I was busy working on the terrace, the street sweeper decided to chop the weeds out of the street. This was a good thing, as I normally do the weeds next to our path as he rarely does it. One year a different sweeper came up with a pesticide spray thing and ‘helpfully’ sprayed all the weeds on my path. Aaaaagh! Anyway, luckily the council must have run out of money to buy pesticides these days.
But as we came back from a beach walk, Partner helpfully pointed out that not only had he half-heartedly chopped back the weeds on the street, he’d also decimated MY spinach on MY path!! Which I was going to take in for the chickens. No Christmas box for Mr Street Sweeper. Shame he hadn’t got rid of the actual weeds on my path.
As ever the walk around the beach was wonderful. Those of us who go for our morning constitutional like to get out before 9am while it is still relatively cool, by which I mean not yet stinking hot. It also means the beach is deserted. Later on at weekends, the beach starts to fill up with sun-worshippers. We reached at least 30 degrees over the last couple of weeks. We also had some rain which pleased Ms GardenerontheMed no end.
Regular readers of roughseas will know that my idea of hell is being let loose in a supermarket or shopping mall. However, I will happily use my village shops, none of which are nasty soulless conglomerates. I even like the (small) supermarket there – Supersol is part of a chain – but the staff are friendly, one of them went to school with our neighbour and is the twin sister of the woman in the garden shop, nobody is in a rush, if someone only has one or two items and you have more, you let them pass in front, typical village scenario.
One evening as I wandered up the street from Supersol armed with an array of pickles, gherkins, silverskin onions, olives, I was followed by the local goatherder/shepherd and the sheep flock. They obviously hadn’t been to Supersol but they had been out for their daily wander. It happens less and less around here, but this family business obviously continues to take them walkabout. A few days later at around the same time (say 8.30pm) he came up the street with his goats, so this photo is for Yvonne, of Pets, People, and Life – who has a fine goat called Billy Bob.
And to end with a reading list:
One of my gardening bibles is Veganic Gardening by Kenneth Dalziel O Brien. Highly recommended.
Next most thumbed are probably The Kitchen Garden, Month-by-Month, by Andi Clevely, and Jim Hay’s Vegetables Naturally.
And the second trilogy of organic books are:
Organic Gardening by Geoff Hamilton
Pippa’s Organic Kitchen Garden (most appropriate as Pippa was busy sniffing around the newly planted plot)
The Chase Organics Gardening Manual (in the UK I used Chase to buy seeds through mail order – superb selection of seeds, with a lot of organic ones too.)