May in the Spanish Garden

By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe

Wherever one gardens in Spain, May is essentially Spring although in cold winter Catalunia it will be the start and in warmer winter Andulucia the end. However essential jobs for all will include the following.

  1. Planting up annuals, perennials and shrubs – including climbers.
  2. Deadheading annuals and perennials to stimulate continuous flowering.
  3. Ensuring that the roots of fruit trees are constantly damp to ensure that forming fruit swells.
  4. The spraying of fruit to prevent problems with such things as leaf curl, honey fungus, mealy bugs, fruit moths and flies and sooty fungi. Appropriate ecological sprays are suggested in Chapter 5.7 of our book Growing healthy fruit in Spain – From strawberries to oranges and watermelons ISBN 978-84-89954-62-5. If you cannot find the sprays listed on herb stands in local markets, in local agricultural cooperatives or garden centres there is now an internet shop selling a good selection by mail order .
  5. Weed strawberry beds and harvest as fruits ripen – don’t be tempted to pick them unripe as one sees early strawberries in many shops as they are nothing like the real thing. Already we are harvesting sufficient sweet alpine strawberries to be able to dry some overnight in our Dorrex dryer (see earlier article and contact order@conasi.bis for information) to include in our snack lunches when out walking the Spanish mountains.
  6. Plant out melon plants and is not already done your courgettes and squash.
  7. If in the south continue to harvest avocados as you need them – it’s best to use the tree to store the remainder to avoid a ripening glut in a kitchen drawer or a cellar.
  8. Cover blueberries with netting before they ripen – these are the only fruit other than grapes that we lose to birds if not protected.
  9. Prune out lower growth on grape vines trained over gazebos or arches.
  10. Dust vines, raspberries and garlic with sulphur powder through an old sock – but not one with holes!
  11. Audit how ecological your vegetable and fruit gardening has become and plan the next steps. See chapters 5.9 and 5.8 in Growing healthy fruit in Spain and Growing healthy vegetables in Spain respectively. Each presents a practical self audit.
  12. From the number of questions we have had at recent talks and on our REM radio programme re flowering plant problems we suggest you read chapter 6.16 Be a plant detective in Your garden in Spain. This lists 50 ways to kill off plants in Spanish gardens . Be forewarned!

Each of our books includes a longer calendar of essential May tasks.

© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe May 2008.