The 1st of November is probably the most important date in the contiental florist's calender. Throughout Europe people flock to the cemetries ladden with flowers for thier near and dear ones. The chrysanthemums which we have planted in net covered green house thingy have provided and oustanding harvest this year. In the foto is Tia Maria with the variety "Anastasia" just in front. This plant alone provided 20 full size single blooms. She provides me with eggs and cakes, and was the lady that fitted my kilt.
I maintain a large school not too far from where i live. It amazes me the stupidty of the design of the green or garden area. Surrounding the concrete playing fields there are mature oilve trees, the olives when ripe fall and are like marbles for the kids to play football on. Maybe that is the secret of why the Spanish National football team are current world and football campions. Eucalyptus trees have alson been planted, they stand at some 12m and constanly shed bark and branches regularly fall, on top of the goals. I presume Iker Casillas trained there and that is why he is so slight of foot. The public car-park has those stupid flower beds - those of some 40cm broad, which only serve as rubbish collectors. I suppose there must be something in the rumour that the original design was comissioned by some cousin of Paco who's kids don't go to that school.
A quick note in blogger's land to say all is well. Fortunately the vegetable patch is having to play second fiddle to roof and vertical gardening planning and instalation. I have planted bush tomatoes this year, which i will cover with a net to keep out the tutta,peppers, beans,onions, cucumbers, kale, cougettes and aubergines. Just a few of each for our own personal use.
The xeriscape at Ocaive is doing very well. The autochthonous plants are thriving whilst some carefully chosen Australian and South African imports ( calliestemon and agapathus,etc) are surpassing expectations in there adaptation to their new home. A very wet spring has no doubt helped. The rabbits, which abound in the area, have been a little rampant in thier destruction of the flowers of the diasies which i planted, so a wire cage has be put round them to give them a little protection until they "get up" a little.
I have just undertaken a new project with some of the specification being a roof garden and a vertical garden to the frontage of the property.The idea of the living roof or greenroof is to insulate the property and help control the storm water run-off. In this case a light-weight medium has to be used due to the structural conditions of the property . Expanded clay/ volcanic rock will be the medium for the roof garden as it's light and will be ideal for cacti succulents and aloes which shall be the mainstay of the roof.
In the coming months I am going to catalogue the common bugs and beasties which affect our gardens here on the Costa Blanca and what we can do about them. Whilst out and about in clients garden's I see what beasties are prevalent at different times of the year. Although still in February, yes we do get a winter in the Mediterranean, the plants in our gardens are starting to bud and are preparing themselves for the spring sunshine which is just round the corner. As a consequence the green fly white fly and black fly are preparing themselves for some early spring pickings too!! The first culprit to come under the hammer is the Californian Red Scale or “aonidiella aurantii” to those people who speak Latin or wear white laboratory coats. Strange but true , it is called California Red Scale but originally comes from Australia and is found in nearly all hot countries. I have noticed some heavy infestations of scale on rose bushes lately and of course on citric trees. Other plants that are particularly prone to attack are olives and boxwood. The difficulty with treating scale insects or mealy bugs is that they have a protective coating in the form of a shell or a wax covering which means that many insecticides do not “ reach” behind their defensive armour, and the majority of insecticides that were effective in their control have been removed from the marketplace. What do scale / mealy actually do? They suck the fluids from leaves and stems, robbing plants of essential nutrients. Mealy bugs/scale feed on all parts of the plant, but especially on tender new growth. Leaves wither and yellow and, on crop plants, fruit may drop prematurely. In many untended orange groves Red Scale is responsible for the dead “bits” of the trees. How to treat. The mealy bug problem is probably slightly easier to deal with as if there are not many these can be taken off by hand. On fruit trees a winter oil mix can be applied to treat scale. The best course of action is applying neem oil at the end of Feb and then again at the end of May.
Some bits and pieces i dsicovered about chickweed and nettles.
Chickweed is called Stellaria Media while nettles belong to a family called Urticanceae.
Chickweeds are an annual herb, widespread in temperate zones, arctic zones, and throughout, probable origin Eurasia. Chickweeds have established themselves all over the world, possibly carried on the clothes and shoes of explorers. They are as numerous in species as they are in region. Most are succulent and have white flowers, and all with practically the same edible and medicinal values. They all exhibit a very interesting trait, (they sleep) termed the 'Sleep of Plants,' every night the leaves fold over the tender buds and the new shoots. The cultivation of this one is not necessary it is abundant and easy to find. Gather fresh edible plant between May and July, as soon as flowers appear, it can be used fresh or be dried for later herb use. Properties Chickweeds are Medicinal and edible, they are very nutritious, high in vitamins and minerals, can be added to salads or cooked as a pot herb, tasting somewhat like spinach. The major plant constituents in Chickweed are Ascorbic-acid, Beta-carotene, Calcium, Coumarins, Genistein, Gamma-linolenic-acid, Flavonoids, Hentriacontanol, Magnesium, Niacin, Oleic-acid, Potassium, Riboflavin, Rutin, Selenium, Triterpenoid saponins, Thiamin, and Zinc. The whole plant is used in alternative medicine as an astringent, carminative, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, refrigerant, vulnerary. A decoction of the whole plant is taken internally as a post-partum depurative, emmenagogue, galactogogue and circulatory tonic. It is also used to relieve constipation, an infusion of the dried herb is used in coughs and hoarseness, and is beneficial in the treatment of kidney complaints. as an astringent, carminative, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, refrigerant, vulnerary. A decoction of the whole plant is taken internally as a post-partum depurative, emmenagogue, galactogogue and circulatory tonic. It is also used to relieve constipation, an infusion of the dried herb is used in coughs and hoarseness, and is beneficial in the treatment of kidney complaints. New research indicates it's use as an effective antihistamine. The decoction is also used externally to treat rheumatic pains, wounds and ulcers. It can be applied as a medicinal poultice and will relieve any kind of roseola and is effective wherever there are fragile superficial veins or itching skin conditions. Folklore Chickweed water is an old wives' remedy for obesity. RecipesMedicinal tea: To 1 tbls. dried herb, 2 if fresh, add 1 cup boiling water steep for 10 min. Take in ½ cup doses 2 to 4 times daily, during a cold or flu. Article by Deb Jackson & Karen Bergeron
Feb is here and the garden is cold. The rains prevail ( and more predicted this week) making the soil heavy and wet.
Today i went to the vegetable plot to see how things were, to breathe some air and generally be with nature a little. A little bit of weeding - mainly nettles and chickweed both of which are edible with medicinal properties. I quickly forgot about the medicinal properties of the nettles as i was stung a couple of times, and remembered the medicinal properties of an antidote in the form of dock leaves. There was a time when i made wine from nettle leaves, it was pretty foul tasting stuff but had a rather noted effect and a hell of a hangover.
At the plot the carrots required "thined-out", the process of taking out intermediary baby carrots (which are delicious raw or pan fried with a little butter) to let the others develope
Leeks are planted beside the carrots to ward off carrot fly in a style of complementary planting.
I lifted a couple of shaws of potatoes which look delicious, small tubers with little skin. Potatoes planted at the back-end of the season do not provide a large crop, however they have a flavour all of their own and are a gastranomic treat.
Radishes and sugar-snap peas along with fesh lettuce and curly endive leaves provide the salad which accompanied the paella today.
Tomorrows lunch will include some of the small cauliflowers cropped today. I will try them in some tempura batter along with the remaining sugar-snap peas.