Nano Gardening – An essential 21st century skill

By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe now completing their combined 125 years of continuous gardening.

What is Nano Gardening?

We have defined Nano Gardening as the art or process of ensuring that both the above and below ground conditions are the most appropriate and supportive you can make them for the germination, growth and successful maturity of each seed, cutting or young/maturing plant/tree that you place in your greenhouse, garden, apartment terrace containers, bonsai collection trays or pots, and trays for developing mini gardens and Christmas Nativity gardens or Belens as known here in Spain. Giving attention to only either the above or the below ground conditions related to each plant or tree will not yield optimum results.

We first explained the term Nano Climate in Chapter 3.10 of our book ‘Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain’ and Chapter 3.10 in the sister book ‘Growing Healthy Fruit in Spain’ and inferred it without using the term in our earlier book ‘Your Garden In spain’. W6.1.

What we emphasised was that there are three important success climate related factors – macro, micro and nano – in gardening . During our now combined 125 years of gardening from when first playing with earth worms, helping in parents and grandparents gardens, having own mini gardens , helping in wartime school gardens through to own homes and travels to many exotic climes on holiday and business travel to today when we garden in Spain with it’s every challenging climates, plant mix and soils we have never stopped learning about them and their interrelationships. Most importantly we have learnt that the that the attention to Nano Climates is even more fundamental and important than understanding local Macroclimates and modifying the existing Microclimates of the various zones of your garden.

Climate management for success

Macroclimates

You need to understand the constraints and opportunities presented by the general seasonal and monthly Macroclimate related to the location of your house or apartment – hopefully before purchasing the property and certainly before you start to design layout and plant up the garden or group of containers.

Microclimates

You need to understand the local microclimates of each zone of your future garden and progressively make them more benign under winter and summer conditions to be able to maximise the benefit of having so many varieties of plants to chose from .

Nano climates

You need to understand the unique above and below ground conditions that are ideal for each group of plants that you plan to plant in the garden or in apartment terrace containers and ensure that these are provided for BEFORE making plantings.

Examples are provided in our books. For instance all too often for instance appropriate sunny or semi shaded conditions are provided but without thinking about exposures to hot and cold gales and not bothering to enrich or improve the soil structure before making plantings. Also even having prepared the soil and chosen semi or sunny situations drought resistant and thirsty plants are collocated with the result that when appropriate irrigation is provided for the thirsty plants the drought resistant plants suffer with root or stem rot and the weakening plants attract pests that then also attack the other plants.

Applying Nano Gardening skills to Mini or Nano Gardens

There are four fascinating gardening hobbies for those who have a good understanding of the needs and skills of Nano Gardening .

  • The growing of vegetables and fruit in various containers on apartment terraces.
  • The growing of individual specimen bonsai trees and Bonsai orchards.
  • The design planting up and maintenance of mini gardens which was once a major activity in Spain. In some regions there used to be a tradition of taking mini gardens to churches and grave yards on All Souls day instead of flowers which were then unavailable or expensive.
  • The again growing tradition of preparing mini Nativity gardens in cellars, on trays in garages living rooms and churches. Many Spanish towns and villages have a formal annual competition for these.

Each of the last three need just germinated seedling trees and the next couple of months will be the best time to go out and look for them for fallen or wind blown seeds are now starting to germinate and pop up in the garden alongside unpaved roads and under abandoned trees. Watch out while completing your annual cutback and clean up in your Spanish or Mediterranean climate garden. We have already found young carob, pine, date palm, acacia, almond, apricot and devils tongue trees in the garden and they are already appearing in the abandoned olive orchard that we are in the process of regenerating. Also young saplings will soon appear in the now abandoned orange groves and plum, persimmon and pear orchards.

Some could be potted up and eventually planted out to bear fruit but some will have reverted to the variety of the parent root stock if originally grafted. But the growing of a Nano Garden or a few trees flowers vegetables or strawberries in containers would be a fine way of stimulating an interest in gardening by children and grandchildren and teaching them about the above and below aspects of Nano Climates. Fundamental skills that will lay the foundation for their own flower, vegetable and fruit containers or gardens later in life.

Guidelines for Mini vegetable and fruit gardens

Part Two of both ‘Growing Healthy Fruit in Spain’ and ‘ Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain’ (published by Santana Books Spain) are dedicated to the growing of a wide variety of nutritious fruit and vegetables in a space of only one square metre. Tap into ‘Our Gardening Books’ for descriptions of each book and a handy buying link to the publishers internet shop.

© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe February 2009.