Gardening In Majorca: Cactus

Gardening In Majorca: Cactus.

03-12-2020Dorothy Loeffler

If we have been pruning and cutting back all those shrubs and trees I have been suggesting over the past few weeks there really shouldn’t be much left of the garden to cut back. I am a great believer in making little bundles of cuttings that are woody enough to burn and left in a pile to use as lighting wood if you have a fireplace or ready to light the BBQ.

Climbing plants

Its only a suggestion as to how one can dispose of garden rubbish unless you take the drastic bonfire at the bottom of the garden solution. Here is a further re-cycling tip I often use. An old really worn out mop head from indoors can well be pulled apart strand by strand and there you have little strands to tie up the bundles of firelighting wood, exactly the right length so no need to go rushing about looking for the scissors that will then be put down and forgotten where they were left!!.

These little strands are just the right length for tying up the Tomatoes or such plants that need to be tied to supporting sticks and the like as well. And from here on this last spring the birds helped with our re-cycling by stealing some of these bits of old mop from where they were tying up some climbing plants.

Stick plants

They pulled and pecked at the strands then flew off with them in their beaks to weave them into their nests. This nest was on our summer dining terrace nestled in amongst the blades of the ceiling fan. So, there was no cooling fan until the birds had hatched and flown their nest leaving an untidy bundle of twigs and garden string but inside the nest lined with feathers and fluff of all sorts. There is no telling what pantomimes one can watch in a garden, its not only work.

Then we have the issue of watering, you can be sure that the day you do get the hose pipe or watering can out, the very next day it will rain. And now we are told we are in for a colder spell or even snow in the mountains so winter must be almost here in Mallorca. This is all a sure indication that potted plants and anything vulnerable needs to be moved into a sheltered corner, one never knows when one of those noisy windy nights will tip all the plants pots over and cause havoc.

On the other hand, the already established vegetable garden will be romping ahead, earth up the potatoes, keep a look out for the slugs and snails, the rain really does bring them out in abundance ( I don’t know what the collective name for slugs and snails is !) But they really can cause havoc on any tender new greenery, pick them off and squash them I find as the best method but by then they have frequently eaten off the tender leaves.

Snail pellets are a good deterrant, some gardeners say salt others wood ash, no matter what, just get rid of them. It is no use throwing them over the garden wall if you are a bit squimish about the squashing bit because they will only come back over again.

And now to our readers letters. Jill Carter liked the look of last weeks Nispero tree and asks if it would be suitable for a balcony as a potted plant and how long before it would flower? I can only suggest that a small Nispero (loquat) will grow from a seed just anywhere so why not in a pot? Naturally it will need a large enough pot for the roots to extend and counter balance the weight of the tree as it grows.

Nearly all trees can be kept small enough to grow on a balcony so why not try the Nispero. As to how long it will take to mature and flower I have to admit I have no idea but it will be several years unless you start off with an alreay mature tree. Jill’s next letter was on the subject of Cacti. These of course grow well in pots on a balcony, she says “ I aquired some cactus cuttings, as one does! One has fronds growing down from it. Another , the Cactus itself hangs down and is all of four foot long already. And yet another has a very thick stem and is forming an ‘S’ shape.

Plant growing

This is about all that Jill mentions concerning her Cactus plants. They must all have taken root to be growing so it will be up to her to decide just how big she wants them to grow. The great advantage of the Cactus family is that it needs very little water once established and a simple cutting will take root easily simply planting its stem in a pot and in some cases just a fleshy leaf laid on the soil will pop out roots. It is in fact such an easy family to nurture in this climate that really no balcony is complete without a few. Some of the Cacti look really good planted together forming a sort of miniature rock garden on a shallow plate. So if nothing else, fill the balcony with small Cactus plants.

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