By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe practical gardeners and authors who have visited Spain for the past forty years and lived here for the last twenty two.
Although there are now four million expatriates resident in Spain there are even more who own apartments for holiday visits of two weeks to two months or more if retired plus of course the millions of coastal apartments owned by Spaniards as second homes. But unfortunately most apartment terraces look bare and uninteresting through out the year whether anyone is resident or not. A great pity that the original green Mediterranean coastal strip – often used previously for the growing of vegetables – is now smothered in prison like blocks within a concrete jungle although the better resorts do have colourful promenades, streets and squares.
But it could with little effort or expense all look so different and be productive as well.
How about the following for starters?
Just coming out for two weeks at a time.
- Visit the garden centre on day one and buy some window boxes and trailing geraniums, portulacas or petunias. If you ask the garden centre will probably be willing to plant them up for you to save you from buying sacks of compost.
- Although the time is to short to grow large vegetables it very possible to grow tasty nutritious sprouting seeds that soon germinate in the warm weather and within five day’s you can be easting wonderfully healthy and tasty salad vegetables. As explained in the mini growing chapter of Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain there are many types of sprouting seeds. They weigh little and you can bring out in your luggage to save going to a health shop on day one.
Coming out for a month.
As above plus;
purchase containers of tomato , pepper and aubergine plants which already have fruit about to ripen -many garden centres now sell these.
Coming out for two or three months.
As above plus;
- plant up a wider variety of quick growing vegetables such as cut and come again oriental salad leaves and radishes in containers,
- plant up a window box or two with a selection of culinary herbs such as parsley, basil, thyme, and marjoram plus two separate containers for mint and sage. – again many garden centres would be willing to do this for you, and
- purchase one or two colourful climbing plants such as bougainvilleas, passion flower, plumbago and jasmine and grow them in pots – they are not expensive so you can give them away at the end of your holiday to save organising for a neighbour or the concierge to water them until you come back. A glance through the descriptions and photographs of several hundred flowering plants in our book Your Garden in Spain will stimulate other perhaps creative ideas.
Simple actions like these will not only brighten up your terraces and stimulate you to use them more but – most importantly -also enrich your al fresco eating on the terrace.
And of course the face of the apartment block in which you reside will have another square of colour to brighten it up and look lived in. It might even help you sell in today’s tough market!
© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe July 2008.