We are so dependant on the weather when it comes to gardening when we think of sunny days or torrential rain but in the long run thank our happy stars that here in Majorca we have an all year round growing season.
There are of course some aspects of the weather that will upset everything, like the awful winter winds that will either burn off tender plants or rip the branches off some trees. With this in mind it is as good a time as any to be sure to cut back some trees especially those that are still heavy with leaf.
Although decidious means that the leaves fall annually, here the leaves seem to stay on the trees well into the winter months, the branches on these trees that are heavily laden with leaves will easily catch the wind and in some cases the bough breaks and in the extreme of cases the whole tree. This can be avoided by pruning these trees now, if you were going to do it anyway then it doesn’t matter if there are still leaves on the tree or not if it can avoid the tree being ripped apart where you least wanted it or even uproot it altogether.
This leads on to us thinking of younger trees, make sure they are all well supported with three or four sturdy stakes to help avoid the tree rocking in the wind and disturbing the roots which can, in the end kill the tree.
Whilst on the subject of trees, I am reading that the destructive red horned beetle is still around killing off Palm trees. Gardeners and pest control companies can be of help with regular treatments to discourage the plague as well as the garden centres and co-ops having pesticides available which go under the name of 'picudo rojo de la Palmera' an (organic isecticide).
So, we are talking of garden pests, well there are plenty of those starting with slugs and snails. If you can’t bring yourself to tread on them but rather throw them over the garden wall, they will simply find there way back in again unless they are at least 100 yards away. There are those who like to collect snails for that lovely Majorcan dish of ‘caracoles’ but it is not really everybodies taste!!
There are of course many natural helpers in the garden who eat each other so we must be careful not to upset the helpers. Bird life is of course the most important some of those we see here in our garden ie. robins, blackbirds, the tit family and flycatchers who are all carniverous. There are many natural born killers, lets start with the ladybird whose natural diet is greenfly and blackfly aphids.
Wasps believe it or not can be great helpers even though they have a bad reputation and frequently we ask what use are they to anyone, in fact they are quite important in their own food chain taking a wide range of caterpillars and other insecect larvae back to their nests for their own young and combined with this, frequently pollinate our own flowers.
Don’t forget the spider, that will catch anything that flies into its web, OK we don’t like spiders webs in the house but in the garden they are some of the most effective fly and other insect trapping animals in the garden. The black ground beetle is not to be spurned either, it feeds off caterpillars, leatherjackets vine weevil and even slugs and the centipede as opposed to the millipede enjoys the same diet.
We can’t forget the mushroom to use its common name. They are in abundance both wild and cultivated. A sack of ‘Oyster’ mushroom spore can be purchased from some co-ops or farmers markets. You just have to make a few holes in the sack and water it well, within a few days they will ‘come up like mushrooms’ keep the sack in a dark corner and you will produce more mushrooms than you will ever want to eat. You don’t even need a garden for that, just the back of the garage!
Every month has its own garden smell about it and surely November must have the smell of wood fires as all that garden waste that won’t decompose can now be burnt. Often as we drive through the country a plume of smoke will be obvious. Be a little considerate if you are burning rubbish in the back garden, make sure the neighbour hasn’t just hung out her washing! Composting can go on all year round it is as good a time as any to add some of the good made compost as a mulch to the garden.
And as for other fragrances in the garden, surely one of the most delightful at this time of year will be the Loquat (Nispero) tree already in full flower. To my mind this is the tree to waken all the sense. Lovely to look at, the smell of the opening flowers, you can hear the bees as they hover over all the blossom and whilst looking, the whole surface of the tree will be shimmering with the bees flitting from flower to flower. The evergreen leaves that are constantly falling are an untidy aspect of the tree but the fruit will be worthwhile eating as one of the earliest crops to be harvested in this climate.