We are the start of 2021 and who knows what the year will bring, we can hope but not know. The start of 2020 was filled with promise as always and for us gardeners, plans for future plantings and projects in the garden were never too far away from our minds. Little did we know that for many of us we would have more time in the garden than we would normally have and I for one certainly took advantage of it.
A great many of my fellow gardeners in the Mallorca Gardeners Facebook group also took advantage and recently I met up with a truly lovely couple Ruby and her husband Hago who did the same. New to gardening last year I wanted to meet up with Ruby to find out how she got on and indeed if she would continue her new found hobby.
Theirs is a wonderful garden in which they have had the opportunity to plan almost from scratch, clearing waist high weeds to reveal a lovely space that holds beautiful Palm trees, Fig trees, Orange, Mandarín and Carob among others. They have put a great deal of thought and a lot of hard work into planning and design.
Pathways have been planned, beds around the trees have been formed and the project is coming together really well, my only advice would be to take lots of photos as they go through the stages so they can see exactly what they have achieved. It’s surprising how certain things in life become normal so you forget how it came to be, it’s the same in a garden.
At the start of what would become known as ‘lockdown’ and a reference point for the year, Ruby took the opportunity to start her vegetable plot. With help from Hago she chose an area which could be fenced off from her two inquisitive dogs, Mono and Oscar, and set about creating her beds. Ruby is improving the soil by not tilling which in turn improves soil structure and protects the top soil layers, encouraging worms and good microbes in the soil. The couple have now built raised beds around these initial beds and will fill out these areas by adding well rotted compost. They have also built a deeper bed which is filled with wood, twigs, leaves and then to this they will add wood ashes and compost layers becoming a hugalkultur bed.
Even in December when I visited there was plenty of evidence of successful harvests and lots of beautiful broccoli, kale, chard and onions waiting to be harvested.
Ruby takes inspiration for gardening from many different places and as we started to discuss methods of controlling undesirable bugs and fungus on trees and in the garden, she explained one method she has employed.
Apparently Ruby is getting good results from spraying diluted sea water on her plants which has helped them to be more resistant to disease and bugs which damage the garden. She learned this from an experienced Mallorcan gardener, Señor Biel.
He sounds to me to be what all we gardeners need, experienced and very knowledgeable without using pesticides! Ruby says “Biel is a believer in the “balancing proprietories” of sea water in all microorganisms including us humans. He is a firm advocate of sea water for himself and all around his farm crops and animals.”
He sounds to me like a fascinating man and I hope to meet him one day.
On further reading there have been many studies in fact on the use of sea water in the garden and the results appear to suggest an increase in yield, more drought tolerance, longevity in storage and more importantly less likely to be attacked by insects.
Sea water of course is packed with minerals which apparently cushions the plants against any effect of sodium. Properly diluted (the suggestion is a 1:10 ratio) studies suggest that it is a great fertilizer. It’s certainly something to think about, I will try on a small patch and conduct my own experiments with it. Ruby harvested the sea water, when she went out in a boat as the deeper you can harvest the water the better. It will then store until you use it.
Another thing I like about this garden are the lovely statues dotted about which bring a smile, and the views down the garden from the house are framed by very attractive palm trees which have professional care to ensure they do not get attacked by the palm beetle.
I can imagine it is very peaceful sitting in this lovely garden planning the next stage of design, certainly 2020 was a good year in this attractive garden and I look forward to seeing the project develop because Ruby and Hago have some great ideas.
New to gardening? tips to help:
This week we have tips from Lynn McAvenia, all round brilliant contributor and one of the moderators of the Mallorca Gardeners facebook group.
- Start with the soil - this is what ultimately determines the quality of your veg.
- You can get your soil tested and find out its state before you do anything else.
- If you find that your soil is very alkaline, you can add Sulphur to bring the Ph down a bit.
- Green manure crops are a great start to any planting bed. They are a close planting of a crop which is cut and tilled into the soil before theyflower. This will then break down and add organic matter to the soil. Broad beans are a good choice to use for this.
- Its a great idea to lay some watering lines unless you want to spend the Summer hand watering.
- Use crop rotation. This will help you avoid having a build up of insects or other pathogens. Plant your toms, peppers, aubergines together in one bed.
Then next year, plant them in another bed, and so on. The same for your other veggies.
Happy Gardening everyone!