October looks to be a busy month. As we spoke about trees in the garden last week let’s continue with them. To start with, there are fruit trees that do well to be planted this month like the Cherry, Pear and Apple trees. The latter of these, the Apple and Pear may well have late fruit ready to harvest. Some Apples keep well for quite a long time after picking if they are laid flat in a fruit tray preferably with newspaper or such between each apple to avoid them touching each other, and never piled one on the other.
Other fruits that are ready for harvesting this month will be the Pomegranate and Quince as well as all the Nuts, Walnuts and Hazel nuts etc. And if you are really into local produce and don’t know what to do with all those olives on the trees, you can start picking them for keeping by bottling up in brine. This will be one of the crops never found in a northern garden and one of the reasons for this Sunday gardening page, the differences in gardening between the north and the Mediterranean climate which dictates just what and when. Just about anything can be planted this month starting with peas, beans and broad beans if you haven’t already, and even if you have a second later crop spaced out several weeks apart keeps the fresh vegetables ready for harvesting over several more weeks without a glut all ready at once. So, space out the planting of these spring vegetables. Which can of course include carrots, onions, lettuce and all the cabbage family.
The soil is still warm from the summer months and October can continue to be a sunny month so gentle watering of newly planted seed may well be needed, but with care. The nights could well be much cooler from this month onwards but that does not stop anything freshly planted from germinating and growing in a sunny aspect.. If you want to keep tomatoes on into these months they are best planted in large pots and kept on a terrace. The wind we have already experienced this last few weeks can be the biggest hazard of all in a garden, it really will blow branches off trees and break shrubs and bushes apart.
I was asked this last week if lawn could still be planted. Here we refer to the Grama/ Bermuda grass type of lawn that grows so well in this climate. I would answer this by saying yes, just, the lawn itself is still needing a weekly cut so freshly planted cuttings should take root with care. Good freshly dug soil, a little compost perhaps and once planted a gentle water. Each long runner of grass can be cut into pieces in between the grass, with the growing grass trimmed back to a few inches before planting, the growing stalk included and from this joint the new roots should grow. As just mentioned above, the ground is still warm so with gentle watering and warm sunny days the newly planted grass should get a good start for a few weeks. When temperatures drop and there are fewer sunny hours this type of grass makes no new growth at all no matter how much you water it, that is right round to next April/May it sort of hibernates, quite the opposite to the vegetable garden. At least cutting the lawn is one chore less during the winter months.
I wanted to mention a few more trees that fit well into a garden or even in pots on the terrace. I have seen standard cut orange trees in large pots on a terrace so flat dwellers can enjoy plants around them. It is in fact the beginning of the time to plant citrus fruit trees. Already mature and grafted trees can be bought from the Co-Op or garden shops, they usually come with a little ticket showing which variety they are. All oranges and lemons are grafted on to either pomegranate or bitter orange root stock and take a full eight years before they are mature enough to produce fruit so it is important to know if the tree is already producing fruit before purchasing it. I transplanted a beautiful really mature lemon tree from a patio where we had had it for ten years, into this garden where I live now. It wasn’t happy and just died back even though I did all I was told by gardeners in the know. Well I couldn’t bear to dig the dead looking trunk up so just looked at it for a season then there was a green shoot right down at ground level which we nurtured for years. Well it turned out to be those eight years when the tree was head height and it started to bear flowers, Oh the fragrance from citrus trees is just something else. But the fruit that matured from the lemon tree were not lemons but bitter oranges, the tree had grown afresh from below the graft and reverted to the original root stock. Well all that was at least 45 years ago, the bitter oranges are the best ingredient for marmalade, the tree is huge, with kilos of oranges every year and I have to admit it is the most popular tree of all Puerto Pollensa, all who make marmalade come to pick the oranges every year.
The crop is just filling out now with hard green oranges, they are of a later ripening variety so are not ready for harvesting until about February. Here I must add that there are trees of the Orange/Clemantine/Tangerine family that will soon be ripe for picking, it all depends on the variety you planted if you have fruit before Christmas and an Orange to go in the toe of the Christmas stocking!!
· Just about anything can be planted this month starting with peas, beans and broad beans if you haven’t already, and even if you have, a second, later crop spaced out several weeks apart keeps the fresh vegetables ready for harvesting over several more weeks without a glut all at once.