December tasks in your Spanish garden

By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe Spain’s best known holistic self sufficient gardening authors and broadcasters about to enjoy their 23rd Christmas in Spain.

Beginning of December weather

Last November and early December were wet. Indeed very wet. This year is the opposite and we had the best November weather for forty years and it is continuing into December. We have had to put our flower garden irrigation system back on, potted covered terrace plants need protection from the low winter sun by pulling down an awning and the vegetable allotment still needs fortnightly floodings – there being no piped water system for drip irrigation.

What Christmas brings is any ones guess. In 1989 we had 27°C on Boxing day and icicles from the roof on the morning of the first of January ..the only time we have seen this. In the meantime we can enjoy the ideal sunny gardening weather.

Ten Essential December Tasks in your Spanish Garden

The following tasks reflect our actual situation.

  • Put a layer of fleece over the Christmas potato plants in case there is a heavy frost.
  • Cut back the asparagus bed, visit the beach to harvest sea weed and then back in the village for sheep manure to give the bed a top dressing.
  • Sort through the stored onions squash and melons and feed any doubtful ones to the turkey to add another kilo if possible in the next two weeks.
  • Harvest the excess crop of tangerines and mandarins and slice them thinly to dry overnight on our tray drier. Mixed with other dried fruits nuts and vegetables they make a tasty light tapas for a pre-dinner drink, sustenance during chilly mountain walks and half coated with chocolate they are healthier and tastier then oversweet after dinner chocolate mints. An English language data sheet re our drier can be obtained by emailing to
  • Weed our experimental raised beds and give the leaf vegetables and onions planted a mulch with home made compost.
  • Start the winter pruning of the olive grove we pruned 90% last year. Previously they had been abandoned for a decade. Next year we should be pickling some olives and processing others for home grown ecological oil.
  • Plant up empty window boxes with colourful winter pansies and violas. The latter for edible flowers to brighten up festive salads together with nasturtium flowers as well as brightening up a terrace.
  • Sweep up the final fall of deciduous leaves.
  • Give the garden a final light pre Christmas trim.
  • Send off the autographed books requested by readers in time for Christmas. If you do not know about our best selling gardening books click on ‘Our books’ for descriptions of each. Being full of cost cutting ideas they make excellent presents for family and friends in Spain this year with the pound continuing to be weak. It’s some 30% down against the euro compared with a couple of Christmases ago.

© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe December 2009.