By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe – Self sufficient holistic gardeners living in Spain for 25 years.
The weather and gardening work
Wherever one gardens in Spain, indeed anywhere in the Mediterranean region, August weather varies from year to year. We have experienced three main types of Augusts.
In our first year we had a seven days of rain at the beginning of June by a thunderstorm a month through the summer which meant that little watering of an embryo garden was required even when temperatures between the storms reached 40oC.
Then we had years with no rain from May to the Gota Frias (Spanish monsoons) in the second half of September that just enabled struggling hard baked gardens to recover under the autumn sun.
But on average a storm or two occurs in the first or second week of August that cools down the thermometer temperatures but creates a period of high steaming humidity before a hot Indian summer autumn develops only broken by heavy rains at the end of October/early November
Now writing with heavy rain bashing against the blinds that have kept the heat out of the house for several months. Already it has rained for more than twelve hours. We seem to have the latter this year. Loved by the garden but a disaster for the village fiesta that started last night.
Once things dry up it will be back to early morning garden work before the sun makes it uncomfortable, but luckily with a heightened water table watering to nurse the more thirsty and young plants through weeks of drought will no longer be the prime problem.
Work that has to be done
- Sweep up fallen leaves and trim bashed down branches. Also cut out the fast growing water shoots.
- Once leaves have dried dust tomato, pepper, aubergine, melon and squash plants with yellow sulphur powder against mildew.
- If you have a lawn cut a couple of days after rain .
- Trim climbers and cut out the fast growing water shoots on bougainvilleas .
- Watch out for insect and fungal attacks that can be triggered by the humid weather. Treat with ecological products.
- Feed flowering plants in containers to stimulate continuing flowering.
- Keep herbs trimmed and cut and dry bunches for culinary/medicinal use and for decoration .
- Start to collect containers for growing vegetables and fruit trees on apartment terraces and roofs .
- Keep on top of weed growth after the rains.
- If your compost heap is dry take off the cover during the rain to re-dampen the core.
- Harvest your almonds, enjoy some more sun ripened grapes, raspberries and blackberries, look forward to autumn harvest including early mandarins in September and plan what new fruits to plant up this autumn. Every time we eat a fruit from a tree or bush in the garden the taste, juiciness and bight makes us think that there should be two entries in the English dictionary – Fruit with a capital ‘F’ for fully ripe ecologically home grown fruit and with a small ‘f’ for fruit harvested very unripe with little juice or flavour and tough to eat.
These tasks and others are expanded on in our quartet of books published by Santana Books.
The titles and ISBN numbers are:
- ‘Your Garden in Spain – From planning to planting and maintenance’ – ISBN 9788489954670.
- ‘Apartment Gardening Mediterranean Style – Terraces, balconies and windowsills’ ISBN 9788489954861
- ‘Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain’ ISBN 9788489954533
- ‘Growing Healthy Fruit in Spain’ ISBN 9788489954625
Happy august and autumn gardening whether a full time or occasional resident of Spain.
© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe August 2010.