I frequently repeat and can’t help myself repeating once again, how repetative gardening is and all things growing. One season follows the other and here we are once again with the island full of colour, this time with the colours of the Oleander that line the motorways, cross fields and in nearly every street some garden or other will have one. I do in a way regret that I never planted one all those years ago when I started gardening in Majorca but I had my reasons. Oleander can cause skin irritatoins and is mildly toxic so with a household full of children wanting to climb trees or play hide and seek amongst the bushes we felt it more prudent to avoid any plants that could cause trouble and this is one of them. But, it is never too late take a snippet and pop it in the soil and hope it will take root or go the whole hog and buy a few already mature shrubs from the garden centre. I know there are rules about when and how to plant up a garden but most trees and shrubs that are available come well rooted in their pots and are probably just longing for a little more room. The secret about planting is to make sure the hole prepared is large enough to take the whole root-ball as it is upended from the pot. The hole can be prepared with plenty good loose soil, even a little compost in the bottom, soak this with plenty of water before settling the the plant in place. If the roots are too tightly packed when taken out of the pot, as they very often are, just tease out a few roots without breaking them off but in such a way, as once settled in their new home they will find it easier to establish themselves. Now fill in the hole all around the plant with more soil, never planting the growing tip below the level it was in its pot, firm this new soil in and water it well, even add more soil as the level filters down in. This new plant will need frequent watering, even the occasional top-up of soil if it looks to need it.
Naturally you can’t expect shrubs to flower the moment they are transplanted although some may just come with a few flowers that don’t wilt during the transplant, otherwise its all a matter of nurturing this new addition to your garden.
All of this of course can be repeated on a terrace or balcony if you have room for potted shrubs, there is no reason why the balcony garener shouldn’t enjoy some of the same plants. Now lets move into the kitchen garden. Early planted tomatoes will already have ripening fruit. One of the easiest types to grow is the one known here as the ‘remallet’ and is good for keeping hung up in strings as we hang up onions. They do not ripen as rich a red colour as salad tomatoes or other varieties do but remain a mottled red/orange. It is reccomended that they should be harvested before the first autumn rains but that cannot always be predicted as with the thunder storm that hit the north of the island last week. Pick the tomatoes off in little trusses of two or three ripe fruits so that there is enough stem to tie together forming the string as well as not bunching up the fruit too close to each other. Hang this string of ripe tomates in a cool dark larder or some such and with a bit of luck they will last until well into the winter months, that is if you dont eat them all !! Check them over from time to time just in case one has gone bad or is looking slightly over ripe, in which case this is the one to eat first.
Believe it or not, this really is one of the busiest times of the year for planting up the winter vegetable garden, you really can be planting up what you are just about harvesting like (1) carrots and celery, leeks, beetroot, turnips and radishes. There are other vegetables and greens like (2) cucumbers, courgettes and lettuce that can be planted, transplanted and harvested at just any time of the year, all you need is a little time in the garden and plenty of water. The cabbage family won’t be quite so ready for harvesting at this time of year. As I have frequently mentioned, there is something to do in the garden in Majorca all year round, our climate is kind enough. There is one big BUT, never plant anything in exactly the same plot next time round. Everything takes some different nutrient out of the soil or puts others back in. For example, those I have just mentioned (1) prefer to follow tomatoes and peppers whilst number (2) group like to follow number one. After these come all the peas, beans and cabbages then back to the tomatoes and peppers. Oh dear that does seem a complicated circle of planting up but the main point is never to repeat the same plants in the same plot consecutively just be sure to ring the changes.