SPANISH GARDENS – New Year Resolutions

By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe long established gardeners, authors and broadcasters in Spain.

The annual baton change

Phew, how fast the 2009 gardening year went but how yo-yoing the weather was. Depending where one lives there have been record breaking periods of sun rain floods and gales and shortly before Christmas most of Spain was covered in snow. Almost a white winter but for many rain except on the Costa Blanca that enjoyed a sunny period except for Boxing Day.

We even had temperatures of up to twenty seven degrees centigrade between Christmas and the New Year. Did the vegetable garden good. Seeds sown in early November finally broke through and leaf crop plantlets sown in October are maturing fast. However some plants in the flower garden were caught by a night of minus three centigrade a week before Christmas so the major annual cut back started yesterday to recover from New Year hangovers is timely. Luckily we had harvested the thin skinned tangerines just before the frost as they suffer more than mandarins oranges and lemons. Now it’s on to New Year resolutions and tasks starting with closing last years Lunar calendar and opening the new.

Thinking about the continuing poor economy in Spain, the poor euro pound exchange rate and the difficulty many are having in selling their Spanish properties we suggest the following generic resolutions for considerations.

Top seven new year resolutions for 2010

  • Stay put. Give up the idea of moving to a new property or moving back to the UK. Make better use of the existing garden by planting more edible flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables and grow them ecologically. If you missed it read our October article titled ‘Living very well from your garden – especially living under theMediterranean sun’ look it up in the archives.
  • If you are determined to move give the garden a good make over and make changes to make it more attractive, less water demanding and reduce it’s maintenance needs.
  • With the EU banning more and more chemical agricultural and gardening products it makes sense to only use ecological insecticides, fungicides and fertilizers. They are now much more widely available than even two years ago.
  • Twenty years ago would have found Dick at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos in January. The slogan on the last occasion was ‘Focus on the future – you will be there for the rest of your life’. That is still relevant to gardeners especially in Spain and other Mediterranean climate situations. It makes a lot of sense to design and construct gardens that allow a long term healthy outdoor lifestyle and minimise the need to dive indoors to a centrally heated and air conditioned climate. Retaining or replanting trees felled by developers for shade and establishing thick high hedges as wind breaks and for privacy must be early priorities.
  • We note that the Davos 2010 slogan is ‘Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild’. For those unhappy with the garden that came with the house they purchased or inherited we would extend the slogan slightly to ‘Reread, Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild’. If you have a copy of our book ‘ Your Garden in Spain’ but recently have only used it for solving specific problems reread it in its entirety and ask yourself .Do we really have the garden we want? What should we change first? How should we do it? Who should do it? Hopefully yourselves to save money, enjoy doing it and ending up with what you really wanted rather than a gardeners version.
  • Start or extend the home growing of seasonal ecological/ organic vegetables. Our book ‘Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain’ was written to take the pain out of this and harvest crops365 days a year whether you have a small or large garden , or an apartment or penthouse terrace.
  • With higher costs and lower prices the abandonment of orchards and strawberry growing continues and imports go up. So again it makes sense to plant up more fruits in the garden or in containers. Our book ‘Growing Healthy Fruit in Spain’ is in the bookshops and tells you about over seventy different fruits that can be grown in Spain and how to do so.

The making and implementation of new year resolutions such as these could help you enjoy your garden and life in Spain to the full and improve the local environment at the same time. Best of luck and happy and productive gardening in 2010.

© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe January 2010.