Although it is the hottest month of the year there is always just as much to do in the garden as there is in the spring months when everything needs planting up.
Well everything comes to harvest time so we will begin with tomatoes. These have probably been ripening for a while now but most important will be those planted for keeping strung up for the winter months.
Many of us will have only considered the tomato as a salad fruit but here in the Mediterranean it has many other uses. Here in Majorca the variety of tomato used for one of the most popular snacks must surely be the bread and oil, (pa amb oli).
The method of making this snack is simply a slice of Majorcan bread covered in olive oil and then the pulp of a tomato rubbed all over it. But !!! it must be right variety of tomato, a ‘ramallet tomate’, this tomato should be ready for harvesting just now.
It is not a bright red fruit as other salad tomatoes are but more an orange turning to red. The skins are very tough and rarely eaten but by way of cutting the fruit in half and rubbing it on the bread all the flesh inside rubs off.
Now I am encroaching onto the cookery page so I must return to the garden! Ramallet tomatoes need to be harvested before the autumn rains otherwise they do not last as long as they should.
Ramallet means ‘little bunches’ so to harvest this variety of tomato you must cut off the whole truss of fruit then string them all up as one does onions. A good healthy crop of ‘ramallet’ tomatoes will last from harvesting until tomatoes come again next year if they are well looked after by hanging in a cool dark larder or the like and the tomatoes just picked off as needed.
All the other varieties of tomato, pear shaped, salad, you name it, they can be harvested just as they are ripening and continue to be used on a daily basis until the plant finally dies back. Tomatoes are very hungry plants needing good healthy soil and regular watering even all through the harvesting period which can continue for a few months yet depending on when they were planted.
Another really important August crop to harvest is the Almond. I am aware that not everyone has an Almond tree in the garden but if you have one and never quite known when to harvest, well it’s now.
The island is of course known in the spring time for the white and pink blossom of the thousands of Almond trees which were at one time one of the principal crops of Majorca but like all things, the cost of harvesting and supply from other countries has meant that not quite so much depends on the Almond, although many of the Christmas sweets like Turron are made from Almonds so the Almond is still needed.
Our gardening books tell us of the many vegetables that can be planted now, Carrots, Onions, Leeks, Beetroot, Spinach, even Peas, Beans and Broad Beans as well as all the cabbage family. As we frequently comment, all gardening seems to be upside down when compared to gardening that we may well have been used to in cooler northern gardens.
Here we really do have a growing season all year round.
Admittedly there is much more work keeping it all watered at this time of year but it can be very rewarding to be able to pop out into the garden to pick some of your own home grown veggies.
A long with all the lovely growing of things there is the constant battle with all the different bugs that try to get to your crops before you do. Many of the intruders are blamed on something that has come from afar like the Red Beetle that has been killing off some varieties of our Palm trees and the grey butterfly that really eats into the Geraniums.
That’s not to mention the slugs and snails that will eat anything. If you are into local cuisine you can always get your own back by collecting snails to eat but that admittedly, is not everyone’s taste. Slugs are another matter, their silvery trails all over the garden path will tell you they are there somewhere but seem impossible to find before they have spoiled something special.
Now here is a new story. Russia is suffering a plague of an invasion of ‘large Spanish Slugs’ it seems hard to believe but specialists say they have traced this very large slug right across Europe as having come from Spain.
They are so big and their slime so very strong that no predator will touch them and now they are in Russia eating their crops. Thank goodness slugs don’t swim so have not arrived on this island.
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