I have surprisingly been receiving enquiries about the Christmas flower, the Poinsettia. Christmas seems such such a long way off whichis why it came as a surprise to me but the real reason in both cases is because our Daily Bulletin reader wanted to share with us her delight in still having a healthy Poinsettia from last Christmas. Her only disappointment is that although the plant has produced masses of new leaves resulting in a much larger plant than before, it has no red leaves. Here is where I can congratulate her in keeping the Poinsettia alive and assure her that all is well, those red leaves will come although she will have to help them along a little. The red leaves are actually known as bracts and come along with special nurturing as from about October time, lets say in just a month.
That is when the plants needs a full 12 hours every day of total darkness. Don’t ask me why, I just know that is the solution to red bracts. Keep a really black bin bag or such on hand and totally cover the plant every night to ensure no glimmer of light reaches it, then remove the bag the next morning for the plant to have fresh air and light. Quite a simple solution, no need for special chemicals or feeding just a long dark night. Good luck with your Poinsettia. The Poinsettia is in fact one of the Euphorbia family which grows wild on this island and is one of a very extensive species, the Poinsettia actually having come from Mexico. The one on this island grows on the mountain slopes and starts off with a pretty shade of green leaves and then like others of the same family has a different coloured bract, in this case a golden colour with the most insignificant tiny flower that you almost overlook. This Euforbia grows well in the garden taking little or no watering even during the summer months. It has the same whitish sap as the Poinsettia and we are warned to be a little careful with it, it can cause skin irritations although not exactly poisonous. So, should you still have a last years Poinsettia we will give you a reminder when to start getting it ready for Christmas. In the meantime, make sure it has the correct sized pot with a little gentle watering from time to time, unlike its wild cousin of the mountainside it does need a little looking after.
And now down to some of the work that continually needs doing in the garden. One thing I find really annoying is the noise that comes from all those gardening implements. Why does the day always have to start with someone nearby using a strimmer or a leaf blower or cutting the hedge? I admit it is just me, I simply hate machines when an edging tool or a pair of clippers and a leaf rake will do the job without bothering the neighbour. We are still enjoying the wonderful colours of the summer flowering shrubs and some with their lovely evening fragrances. Every one of them will have flowers and leaves that will fall to the ground and need sweeping up so prepare yourself for thatongoing chore. Keep dead-heading the roses to ensure there are blooms until its time to prune them which could be about the end of the year. The vegetable garden will have a bit of everything , planting, transplanting and harvesting, it really is an all year round climate which never ceases to surprise the northern gardener.
As I constantly comment from reading local garening books, a great deal is attributed to the phases of the moon, sow and plant with the growing (waxing) moon, constantly water and then you can harvest just whenever the crop is ready. Some will be considered more of a fine weather crop like tomatoes but even these I have grown all year round.
The more hardy local variety (Ramallet) known for keeping hung up in stings like onions should actually be harvested now, preferably before it rains. Carefully cut the trusses off with two or three ripe tomatoes still on them and bind them together to form a string about 18 inches long, dont pack the fruits too tightly together, should one beging to rot it then would turn all the others bad. Anyway it is recommended to take alook at them from time to time and be sure to use the more ripe ones first.
In mid winter these tomatoes are greatly in demand and I have seen them in the shops for prices far in excess of salad tomatoes in the region of 7€uros a kilo and yet they really are the easiest of all the varieties to grow. It is naturally fruit picking time, we just don’t need to be told when a fig is ripe, they just sit there waiting to be picked.
The grape harvest is perfect now, the birds soon tell you when the fruit is at its best so we have to try to get the bunches picked before they get at them or cover them with nets until you do want to harvest them. Making wine is quite another matter so we won’t go into that, there is enough work growing them without going any further.