There will hardly be any garden or terrace that has not suffered from the gale force winds of the last week with broken branches and upended plant pots, so now comes the big clean-up once again. At least we have had plenty rain to water the garden and fill the wells. The biggest problem is that one doesn’t really want or more than likely can’t get out into the garden when the weather is so inclement. More leaves than ever will need sweeping up along with the last of any remaining flowers or more disappointing still, the new flowers coming into bud on some shrubs, but that is what gardening is all about “pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again”.
One of our readers commented to me just this week that she had never planted broccoli until this last season and was just so thrilled with the outcome also that her potatoes were really showing signs of new growth and looking forward to digging her own new potatoes, I hope she has a good mint bed to add just a little of that exotic flavour to the cooking pot. Mmm mmm I can already imagine that lovely dish of new potatoes boiled with mint and then served with a little knob of butter. That is what gardening is all about.
And now let’s get down to some real work, once again a reader has asked ‘how will I know when my compost is ready to use’? I have to admit one cannot hurry compost. It will depend a great deal on what you add to the compost and how frequently you add to it as well as maybe needing some water when the weather has been very dry. Freshly added vegetable matter needs time to rot down completely, grass cuttings from the lawn, of which there are few at this time of year, will generate real heat within the heap which helps decompose everything. Turning it all over from time to time helps to bury the slower top matter which may well have dried out and what comes to the top during this process will have already started to decompose in fact the very bottom layers may already be a fine crumbly soil and even better, could well be full of worms and all sorts of creepy crawlies that are really necessary to this process.
I believe one can even be known to buy worms to add to the compost, that I have never needed to do having more worms and grubs there than in any other part of the garden.
A good and long established compost heap will be an on-going thing that you get into the habit of adding to at one end and turning the other end over onto it primarily to bury the recently added waste and avoid the rotting smells and flies.
Initially it could be a whole year before you can actually dig out buckets full to be able to use in your plant pots or as a top dressing around the roses for example. That very bottom layer should be very dark brown even almost black and crumbly with no odd ends of vegetation that are recognisable as such.
It is quite healthy and not disagreeable to touch at all. It is good to keep something like a large polystyrene box and a smaller open meshed vegetable tray to use as a sieve.
Take scoops of the bottom layer of the compost and shake it through the sieve. Once in the box, there you will have sufficient fresh compost on hand for whenever you are going to need it. If the garden is large enough I would almost go so far as to say ‘no garden should be without its compost heap’.
I know I am always complaining about the weeds in the garden especially that all invading oxalis (Bermuda Buttercup). I suppose I shouldn’t because now that spring is in the air, well not quite but lovely days are even more beautiful with the verges just covered in the brightest yellow of that wild flower and a field of it is just something to be seen, a never ending patch of yellow and now to add to that the almond blossom. Who needs all that work of a garden when all you have to do is enjoy our natural garden that is Majorca. Although I have just said, ‘spring is in the air’ we really are still in mid winter if we can call it that here in this Mediterranean climate.
As a result of the warmer sunny days and in a garden with a sunny aspect, planting can go on all the time, the ground is never really that cold so most seeds will germinate and advance what we have always thought of as the growing season by several months, it is really only the wind that can put everything back or even destroy it so beware and prepare for it.