A new season in the garden


It’s October and today’s blog has a horticultural tinge.

Cortijo Limonero now has a name sign, kindly painted for us by a friend

Cortijo Limonero now has a name sign, kindly painted for us by a friend.

The weather is finally calming down a little, after a scorching hot summer and not much sign of cooling down in September. We had a couple of downpours recently, but neither lasted very long. The land is still quite dry and dusty and in need of irrigation.

We decided that we would try to create a proper system of caballones, the banks that hold the water in sections of the land, as Jose Manuel suggested when we asked his advice. For the last few months, we have made do with channels to take the water to each tree, but this has not been ideal.

Unfortunately, making these banks using a hoe is extremely hard work and we need to make almost half a mile of them (if my maths is right.) If it had not been so daunting, we would have got on with them, but even digging the channels in nearly forty-degree heat was extremely hard going for poor Geoff. I could not even attempt it without becoming quite unwell.

We are experimenting with sun drying our grapes. We have eaten loads

We are experimenting with sun drying our grapes. We have eaten loads, the chickens love them and we still have as many again to dry.

We concluded that it would be worth getting a special attachment for our rotavator, and then found it was more cost effective to sell the one we had and order a different one that comes with all the attachments.

While we wait for the new one to arrive, we have been trying to catch up with some of the jobs that we could not do during the summer.

So far this week, we have cleared some of the pile of tree prunings that was being a blot on my personal landscape. It always surprises me that some things, like the pile of poles waiting to become the support for the grapes, don’t worry me very much at all, while other things are a constant low-grade annoyance. The pile of tree prunings was one of the latter.

The quinces had started to drop, so I concluded that I would have to pick them and decide what to do with them. Regular readers of El Perro will know that I have a very uneasy relationship with quinces, but I picked a huge bucket full, cooked and bottled half of them (losing two nails in the process) and gave the rest to a chap I caught scrumping pomegranates ‘for his mum.’

The quince tree with a fairly obvious dead top!

The quince tree with a fairly obvious dead top!

He tells me he is known locally as Peter the German, although he is Spanish, because he spent twenty-five years in Germany. I wonder if this gives me reason to hope that in another couple of decades I might not be far off being Lynn the Spaniard. I somehow doubt it!

We chopped some lumps off the quince tree once the fruit was picked. There was quite a large branch that was clearly dead and was blocking the view a little, so we set about cutting it into logs and chipping the pieces that were too small for the log burner. The pile of old bits of tree from before the summer was also on the receiving end of our tender ministrations. The log pile grew nicely and the chippings have almost finished covering another of the flowerbeds I am preparing.

Fresh from the garden

Fresh from the garden

We are coming up to the time to plant the winter veg, so the patch where most of the tomatoes and cucumbers have been growing needed an overhaul. It was thrown together really, with very rapid repairs to the section of the retaining wall that had collapsed.

We slightly belatedly planted tomatoes and cucumbers between potatoes stubbornly refusing to grow, some huge boulders strewn about and a rough bank on one edge where the digger man ruptured the wall between the levels to install our septic tank. We have had masses of tomatoes and cucumbers, but the supply has been dwindling and the huge beef tomatoes up in the main garden are taking over, along with the peppers and chilies flourishing beneath our ‘hitching post’ border to the boules pitch.




and after.

Yesterday and today I have spent my time moving industrial quantities of soil and rocks and tidying up the veg patch. There are quite a few potato plants that have sprung up now, in wonky rows where they have been accidentally moved when planting the cucumbers. I have earthed them up in the hope that they may yet provide us with a decent crop.

Of course, this means I do not have the clean sweep I had hoped for to plant up with broccoli, romanescu and anything else I can find at the local supplier’s, but there is a strip around three sides that is now more or less clear. I also have a lovely new dry stone wall where the pile of spoil used to be.


Ted was happy to watch