Saturday was Spain’s national feast day, October 12 is said to be the day that Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas. Now you will ask, “What has all this to do with gardening, was it he who actually brought the potato back to Spain?- or is it simply the fact that its origins are from across the Atlantic.” Now the potato is one of the staples of our diet and frequently found in our own vegetable garden.
Tobacco was another plant that was first grown on the other side of the Atlantic, whether it came on the same ship as the potato who knows? Here we can find it as a delightful plant in the flower garden which has pretty flowers and a lovely fragrance simply referred to as a Tobacco plant. What you do with the leaves is entirely up to you. If you really want to dry them and smoke them then it will be your lungs that suffer. You can grow it from seed or buy bedding plants from garden centres.
One of my real favorites from the other side of the Atlantic must surely be the Epiphyllum, that untidy looking Cacti that grows beneath the trees in South America, I doubt that this crossed the Atlantic with Christopher Columbus but it is interesting to see just how many of our garden fruit, vegetables and flowers have come from across the water. Here it takes only a simple cutting of an Epiphyllum to take root and there you have a new plant. It is still flowering late at night for just a few hours filling the air with it fragrance so take cuttings just whenever you like they will take root in either a plant pot or directly in the garden.
I know I am always complaining about the slugs and snails that can really leave a plant without leaves but beware of other pests in the garden I have mentioned the little grey butterfly that only seems to go for the Geraniums and is said to have come over from North Africa. On the whole we enjoy seeing butterflies in the garden but where ever there is life there has to be a baby! I was blaming slugs and snails for holes in the leaves on my Frosty Dawn (Datura) but I discovered it is not only them but caterpillars as well. They are exactly the same green as the leaves and lie along the veins so look just like they belong to the leaf but eat their way through it just like the slugs and snails. Oh dear I suppose we cant have butterflies in the garden without there having first been a caterpillar.
Loquats are one of the earliest trees to have fruit.
So.... what else is there to do in an autumn garden in Majorca? It really is growing season all year round so no matter what seeds you put in the ground you can be sure they will germinate, all of the ones we consider ‘spring vegetables’ in Northern gardens will thrive if planted now. Some supermarkets have packets of seeds as well as do the garden centres and farmers co-ops. Get the seeds in the ground now whilst the soil is warm, be sure to keep the soil moist, in fact all of the garden still needs frequent watering until it really starts to rain.
The lawn will still need frequent watering and of course cutting. Bermuda grass (grama) continues to grow whilst the sun is on it and a warmth in the air probably until about the end of this month, that’s when you will be aware of weeds and the dreaded Oxalis taking over.
Citrus fruit trees will be showing their new crop of fruit, be sure to snip off any really dead twigs and branches to keep the tree in shape. Other trees like the early cropping Loquat, (Nispero) will already have their little bunches of blossom, once they open fully there will be a lovely fragrance and along with that will be the buzz of bees that feed off the pollen. These two families of trees, Citrus and Nispero are the earliest ripening fruit trees. Early oranges are frequently harvested before Christmas and some Lemon varieties have flower, green fruit and ripe fruit ready to harvest all at the same time and all year round. The Nispero comes a little later but is still surprising to Northern gardeners to find ripening fruit in mid winter.