By Dick and Clodagh Handscombe, Spain’s best known gardening authors
Practical Gardeners new year resolutions
Do ensure that 2013 resolutions are practical in terms of being realistic to the size and style of your garden, cost in relation to your gardening budget and within your creative and physical capabilities. For s0me this comes naturally for others less so. We therefore offer the list below as thought starters whether you have an estate, park, average villa garden, courtyard, patio, apartment terrace balcony or windowsill, a growing table or a bonsai tray to develop so that the garden becomes more attractive, productive , sustainable and maintainable.
12 possible new year resolutions
- Aim to make all spaces more usable productive and enjoyable.
- Be adventurous but cautious with your plantings. Adventurous in recognising that an enormous range of flowering and evergreen plants and trees, fruit, vegetables and herbs that can be grown in all situations in Spain. Cautious in focussing on planting mainly drought and frost resistant plants to minimise the cost of losses. Each of our main books include lists of suitable plants with indications of where they can be grown.
- Recognise that in all gardens the predominant colours will be the multitude of green tints and hues so add to the assortment of leaf colours for interest. Then if you love the power of colours to add interest and raise seasonal spirits aim for year round colour. Even at Christmas we had getting on for forty types of plants in flower. Having just walked the garden will try and remember what they are; African daisies, yellow and pink bignonias, blue red and mauve salvias, yellow euryops, leonotis, grenvillea bottle brushes, felicias, verbenas, violas, cotyledon succulents, rosemaries and thymes, nasturtiums, jasmine, purple and red bougainvilleas, double rd hibiscus, white purple yellow pink and orange now going red with the cold lantanas, lunar lemon tree, strawberry plants, roses for cutting alongside the veggie plot Spanish style, unseasonal tangerine blossom and in addition the red fruits of cacti and mini pomegranates and the busting seed pods of pittosporum and lilies add seasonal colour. For ideas for new colour schemes read the chapter on ‘Painting with plants’ in our book ‘Your Garden in Spain – From planning to planting and maintenance’.
- Finally go eco and avoid using potentially dangerous chemical gardening products. A bottle of neem oil insecticide now widely available since Flower launched two neem products, a bottle of propolis as a fungicide which if not in your local garden centre is in the health stores and honey shops, a bottle of potassium soap or an eco washing up liquid plus a few cloves of garlic to crush to add to water or to plant in geranium pots or under rose bushes can sort out most garden problems. For snails and slugs try Neudorff’s eco snail pellets which do not end up with piles of dead snails and slimy snail tracks. Persuade your neighbours to do likewise. There is more on eco pest controls in our books.
- Start to grow a few vegetables even if only in large size builders buckets or window boxes or on a growing table. The illustrations in ‘Apartment Gardening Mediterranean Style’ and ‘Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain’ will give you plenty of ideas. If you like freshly harvested mushrooms a spore impregnated sack from a local garden centre agricultural cooperative or animal feed warehouse is a very easy and productive way to start. If you can’t trace a sack contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- Add some additional fruit trees bushes or plants for fresh seasonal fruits ranging from peaches to redcurrants and strawberries. With home grown fruit you can harvest when really ripe and if not sprayed or spayed ecologically one can eat directly from trees. There is nothing like wandering round the garden eating a Christmas tangerine or early summer peach.
- Get out and enjoy the first sunny days of the new year and progress the annual winter clean up and cutback early to create a neat garden and give plants plenty of time to bud up for spring and early summer flowering.
- If you don’t have room for a veggie plot take on an allotment. There are an increasing number of council and privately run ones available.
- Encourage the next generations to take an interest in nature and gardens beyond growing cannabis. From what we have heard when running question and answer stands at village fairs and flower festivals many youngsters are experts at that and the skills are there to grow healthier crops.
- Scale down the part of your property which is actively gardened as you become older.
- Attract more wild life.
- Reduce the amount of water you use. Dick’s Kindle e-book ‘Making waterless gardens a practical reality worldwide’ can help you in this respect.
Whatever your new year plans for the garden and apartment terraces do enjoy them to the full this year.
(c) Dick and Clodagh Handscombe www.gardenspain.com January 2013.