April and May are good times to start to grow vegetables in Spain but if you have not done so before plantlets rather than seed provide an easy and productive option especially if you plan to grow your vegetables in restricted spaces such as containers and raised beds.
The Benefits of Growing from Plantlets
There are seven main reasons for starting off with plantlets rather than sowing your own seed.:-
- You do not need to spend the time and effort necessary to successfully raise your own plantlets from seed in the green house or open air.
- A reasonable selection of seasonal plantlets can be purchased economically in many local markets, garden centres, commercial greenhouses and agricultural co-operatives. Ask a neighbouring Spaniard who grows vegetables where the best local source is.
- Often the plantlets have been grown according to organic principles.
- Typically available plantlets include the following.
a. Needing little space: onions, lettuce, spinach, seakale beet, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, cucumbers, basil, parsley and chives.
b. Needing much space: beans, courgettes, water melons, melons, squash, cauliflowers, broccoli, Romanesque and cabbage.
- Those that need little space can be planted in large pots, containers, old bath tubs, and one metre square raised beds. Those that need more space can be planted in very large pots, trailed down the side of raised beds, grown up trellises to save space, or of course reserved for the vegetable plot.
- For productivity of space utilisation those that need little space can be planted in blocks rather than rows to use the available area most productively.
- The day you plant you can start picking off the odd leaf of lettuces, spinach, basil and parsley for tasty salads.
- As soon as you harvest a few plants they can be replaced by a new plantlet of the same or different type ensuring that your mini vegetable garden is always fully planted.
The Disadvantages of Growing from Plantlets
The main disadvantages of buying rather than raising your own plantlets or sowing directly in the ground are:
- The range of vegetables and the number of varieties of each will be limited
- You may need to get to the local market etc. early to have first choice of the plants. In some cases you will be able to place an order in advance.
- If you purchase plantlets from a hot house or from a coastal source when you live in land you may need to first plant them in pots/trays to harden off before planting out on a wind blown vegetable plot.
You will find more information on this topic in our recent book Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain