HERE we are half way through this month and still looking for the real ‘ Calms of January’, everything seems to be upside down these days.
I did just mention citrus fruits last week. The really ripe fruit are already falling off the trees, this is one fruit where windfalls are not very nice to gather, they really do bruise easily and are often very bitter as well as rotting almost immediatly and as well as any fruit they touch each other in the fruit bowl. This is where I say they keep better on the tree than in the fruit bowl. Apart from the picking we must look after the tree, sometimes they almost fall into the hand as they are picked but the fruit that needs to be broken off must be carefully snapped off with a twig intact or cut off.
The broken fruit skin that leaves that tell tale little bit of orange skin and white pith on the branch is a real invitation for invasions of any fungi or whatever to get into the tree, so always be sure to leave a clean cut tip to the twig when picking the fruit. Apart from all the ‘do’s and dont’s, there is nothing nicer than the sight of orange and lemon trees just laden with fruit except of course when blossom time comes round and the fragrance of orange blossom fills the air.
I just loved Andrew Valente’s food page a week ago when he was telling us all about what we could do with bay leaves and commenting on the fact that the bay tree in fact has its origins in the Mediterranean. It even dates back to the Romans and beyond. Thank you Andrew, I will mention here that the bay tree is one of the easiest trees to grow in the whole garden and self-seeds every year from its own tiny puff-ball like flower.
They can be a little difficult to transplant because they have a very long tap root that doesn’t like being broken or cut into. But, digging up a large enough unbroken root with plenty of soil around itwill help the transplant into its own space or even a plant pot. Yes , this is a lovely little tree for the balcony gardener where the tree can be kept as a delightful little ‘standard’ or left more bush-like depending on what space you have. I won’t encrouch on the cookery pages other to say that a Bay tree is a ‘must’ near any kitchen and I am sure any gardener would be more than happy to transplant up some of those wayward young Bay trees that keep popping up all over the garden.
I think I might have already mentioned that my first bay tree was sneaked away from a garden in the Son Mark Valley just off the Lluc road about 1975 by an old shepherd friend of mine. That one little tree is now taller than the house and if it has one sapling it will surely have 21 all round the garden growing in every shape and size. And to repeat Andrew, my son who is a chef never cooks anything without first going out into the garden to pick bay leaves.
Another Mediterranean plant, this time for the vegetable garden. We have been mentioning the planting of tomatoes about now and one variety known more here than in Northern gardens is the Ramallet or hanging and keeping tomato that can be kept until ripe tomatoes come again.
One very important thing though, these strings of ‘keeping tomatoes’ must be looked over from time to time just in case one has started to rot in amongst the bunch so it must be removed before others hanging beside it are affected.
If you have tomato seedlings well established, keep them under cover at the moment, they really won’t like the cold nights and rough windy weather, but to get some of these summer plants well established now can be counted as a real ‘plus’ when spring weather really does arrive but I guess we must be patient and get through the winter months first even though the sunny days encourage us outside at times.
- Bay trees have a long tap root which needs to be unbroken to help it transplant well.
- Keep tomato seedlings undercover at the moment until the weather warms up.
- Always leave a clean cut on an orange or lemon tree when picking fruits.