After a month of very variable weather in May with more than a normal months rain June has opened with an overnight storm but at time of writing now have dry pavements and a drying sky. Hopefully sunny for the Costa Blanca Gardeners Circle Garden Party this afternoon.Have now completed our summer vegetable plantings/sowings and by now are normally into the summer watering programme but to date the soil has remained damp naturally. Remember that in 1988 we had 12 days of continuous rain in June. With the stratosphere full of dust particles from the Iceland volcanic eruption, the tornados in the USA, the Libyan war and Japanese atomic power station disaster could it happen again? Certainly many , especially those new to Spain , are asking ‘When will the summer start?’. In the meantime gardens are very green and colourful with the last of Spring and first of Summer plants. But much forming fruit was knocked off by the heaviest of May storms and winds. A recent email from an avid reader and user of our books in the island of Skiathos in Greece indicates that the same happens there especially from their Meltemi winds.
Mediterranean gardening books
Knowing that members of the local gardening club on Skiathos in Greece use our gardening books prompts us to highlight to all readers of our site that when our books were written it was a toss up by our publisher whether to use Spain or Mediterranean in the titles. Spain won as in those days Spain was a large book market in it’s own right and it was where we gardened and wrote weekly gardening articles in publications. However since then we know that many gardeners in other locations around the Med and elsewhere are using our practical gardening books, including Texas and Alabama. So they would make good presents for friends living in other Mediterranean climate locations.
And of course our last book Apartment Gardening Mediterranean Style was written for use worldwide.
Advice on using Neem
Now is the time to start spraying plants and trees against a variety of pests and we recommend, as in our books, that you use ecological products. For fungal problems we normally use a water based solution of propolis which is a byproduct from beehives and for insects we normally use an emulsion of neem oil in water.
Neem oil is an oil extracted from the fruit of the Azdirachta indica tree, also known by the common names Neem, Nim, Margosas, Cinamomo and The village pharmacy.
Originating from Asia where Neem has been used for thousands of years it reached western countries when the organic vegetable and fruit industries started to be set up.
Initially it was only available in large bottles but each year more producers are marketing small handy bottles to the amateur gardeners. Within Spain the product is sold by Trabe, Sojivit, Flower, Seipasa etc.. If you have problems locating Neem products they can be purchased by mail order from www.trabe.net, www.tiendasplanet.com and also from Neem-Handel in Germany – a convenient source for gardeners in other countries .Am visiting Sojivit in a couple of weeks so wqill tell you more about their full range of garden eco products next month.We have purchased neem oil, neem powder for adding to seed beds and neem toothpaste and shampoo from Neem-Handel.
Some products are of neem emulsions and others are pure neem oil which unfortunately can start to dry out once the bottle is opened and some off the more volatile constituent oils evaporate .
This can be a problem when you dilute and use neem oil and unless the oil is well emulsified small neem particles can block spray jets. If you have experienced this problem we suggest the following.
1. Buy emulsified neem oil.
2. Buy a small bottle so that it is used up each year.
3. Add a little pure alcohol to the bottle once opened and shake.
4.But separate bottles of oil and emulsifier such as Rimulgan which is sold by Neem-Handel.
5. Before mixing the oil with water make a thin paste with potassium soap, ecological wasahing up liquid, alcohol or a strong herb based liquor if you have no alcohol handy.
6.In all cases mix the emulsion paste into warm not cold water.
7. Clean your sprayer jets after use.
By the way in hot well draining sandy soil frost free locations it may be possible to raise and grow your own trees from seed.
If you have not yet planted peanuts in a veggie bed or large contaiuner don’t leave it too long.
Ten-tub veggie gardens
Those readers who have copies of ‘Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain’ will have seen our sketch for a ten-tub mini vegetable plot for garden or apartment terraces. They are very convenient and productive and we have just set one up for our collection of heritage tomatoes to prevent the thieving losses of previous years from our allotment now surrounded by abandoned land.
First tomatoes on terrace
Summer tomato plants are now growing well in coastal and inland gardens and in Andalucia tomatoes will be already been harvested. It will probably be a month before we harvest from plants in the open garden but we have been harvesting for some weeks from plants planted in January and intially protected by cutoff water bottle cloches on our experimental three square metre veggie plot as described in ‘Apartment Gardening Mediterranean Style’.
Fruit drying if it rains
Dick did a five day 150 km walk last week largely sustained by dried fruit from our garden including sliced mandarines, raspberries and stoned cherries. The latter dried on our tray drier during a wet night just two days before departing. See our article in the archives of .20th January 2008 for more details.
Costa Blanca Gardeners Circle Garden Party
Enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at the annual Garden Party of the Costa Blanca Gardening Circle. Luckily overnight and morning rains dried up although the sun did not come out. Rotated around members gardens each year it is a good way to see an interesting range of coastal and inland gardens. Other Clubs should follow suite.
En route to the party signed up to join the newly formed Costa Blanca Writers group set up to exchange ideas and experiences to improve the preparation,launch asnd marketing of the group members books. Have a look at the site to see the wide range of books already published by members. Some will be good reading in the garden hammock this summer.
Have a great month in the garden!