By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe
All gardens and apartment terraces can accommodate them
No Spanish garden or apartment terrace should be without fruit trees or plants. Even in less than a square metre it is possible to grow alpine or ordinary strawberries in a strawberry barrel or window box and citrus, peach, apple, pear, pomegranate, avocado and fig trees on dwarf root stocks grow perfectly well in containers provided you fill the containers with a rich in nutrient and water retaining/ well draining soil mix. Our experimental container is doing well orchard is doing well.
Aim to harvest on every day of the year
Once in a larger garden it does not require much imagination to plant a dozen varieties as trees or plants and be able to harvest ones own ecological fruit crops on every day of the year.
Try the following for starters – almond, apricot, avocados, fig, lemon, mandarin, mangos, orange, persimmon, peach, plum, strawberries , raspberries, walnut. Our book Growing healthy fruit in Spain – From strawberries to oranges and watermelons published by Santana Books gives you over seventy fruits to chose from according to your tastes and location. Naturally tropical fruits can be grown more easily on the Costas del Sol and Tropical and the more temperate fruits that need some winter frosts such as cherries and apples are going to grow better in higher inland gardens and in Catalunya.
All your daily 5 fruits and veg a day
If you combine the above with a vegetable raised bed or patch even a moderate sized garden can become your daily market for the fresh healthy fruit and vegetables increasingly recommended by medical authorities.. Spanish readers will immediately recognise what we are saying –i.e. return to the back yard or small holding of our grandparents – for what we recommend does not require a large orchard. Indeed, as many inland expatriates with 10.000 metre plots have discovered, how does one cope with the ripening fruit of several hundred trees when Spaniards are feeding surplus oranges to their sheep and goats and abandoning orchards for villa construction as it is less expensive to do so than pay to harvest the fruit for very low prices.
The multiple benefits of fruit trees.
Luckily many fruit trees have multiple benefits so they easily fit into mixed gardens for they are among the best trees for spring blossom, then the colouring fruit add interest followed by the vivid autumn leaf colours of the deciduous trees and early winter colours of persimmons and pomegranates well after the leaves have fallen.
As mentioned in our earlier columns and described in detail in our book there are now many natural, ecological and organic ways of fertilising and spraying fruit trees bushes and plants against pests and diseases so one does not need to be concerned about residual chemicals on the skins.
Eat when ripe – they’re different to commercially harvested fruit
Eating perfectly ripe fruit direct from the tree bush or plant is one of the delights of gardening in Spain as elsewhere in the world.
You do not need to harvest when unripe to avoid bruising during transportation to packing stations, packing in boxes or plastic wrapped trays, transport to markets shops and supermarkets and back home again.
Graze on fruit when gardening
Fresh raspberries from May to October, grapes from august to October and in a few weeks time tangerines are some of our regular pre breakfast snacks when working early in our holistic garden. They are irresistible. Thinking about citrus trees if you select early mid and late season varieties it is possible to harvest edible mandarins from October to May and a mature perpetual flowering/fruiting lemon tree can supply a years supply of lemons for gin and tonics and lemon sorbets.
Obtaining Growing healthy fruit in Spain
Our fruit book can be obtained from bookshops or by mail order from internet shops such as Amazon. For immediate action you can click on Our Books on this site and then click through to our publishers internet shop at the bottom of the description of the book. In the UK a free phone call to 0845-2604505 – the Royal Horticultural Society book shop at Wisley Gardens is a speedy way to order.
© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe 0ctober 2008.