by Dick and Clodagh Handscombe,
Spain’s best known expatriate gardening authors living in Spain for 25 years.

The Situation

Several times a year we hear about new attempts to establish English-style allotments for growing your own vegetables and in some cases also fruit. Some have been launched by thoughtful Town Halls and others by private individuals who have unused fertile land. Luckily most seem to survive. Typically, plots of 100 square metres are on offer, which is great for a family or group of friends.

Typical Prices

From our knowledge, prices vary from 100€ a year to 1€ a day, equating to 365€ a year. Neither seems expensive, as the lowest prices were only for the loan of the land and the most expensive has included fencing, a shed, supply of water and manure, loan of tools and a rotavator, occasional courses on Saturday or Sunday and fortunately for us, a copy of ‘Growing Healthy Vegetables In Spain’ for each tenant.

Eco or Not

Some organisations are and some are not, which is a nonsense. The main reason for growing ones own vegetables or fruit is to be able to harvest fresh chemical-free produce. If one person uses chemical pesticides fungicides and fertilizers, it ruins things for everyone else, so check that a project that interests you has rule of ‘100% ecological’. This is not a problem, for with the wide range of varieties of vegetables likely to be grown, few pest-problems are likely and if they occur, inexpensive sulphur powder dustings and sprays with garlic and horse tail infusions or 3 to 5% solutions of neem oil and propolis and a few friendly plants such as fennel, thyme, nasturtiums and garlic will solve the problems.

Preparing The Soil

Do follow the advice of our books and aim to work in 25 to 40% of organic mature into the soil over the first couple of years. It is not difficult or expensive these days to source dried or raw goat, sheep, or horse manure. In many areas, sacks of highly nutritious worm compost is also available. Ask at local nurseries and agricultural cooperatives.

What To Grow?

This should be what you like, what you would like to try, what can be fitted into the size of allotment you hire and what is most nutritious. The range of seeds available in Spain has reduced considerably over the past twenty years so it is worth getting hold of the hard copy or internet catalogues of gardening-bookcompanies who sell Mediterranean type vegetables, as well as northern European ones. Try Chiltern Seeds, Sutton Seeds, Jungle Seeds and Thompson and Morgan for starters. There is a longer list of possibilities listed in the latest printing of our book ‘Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain’. Things that take up most space are courgettes squash and pumpkins.

gardening-cover-paellaRegarding what is most nutritious, we include a list of what have most beneficial vitamins and minerals in ‘Living Well From Our Mediterranean Garden’ and ‘Having A Great Retirement’.

Dick Handscombe has just published two new books ‘Your Practical Guide To Having A Great Retirement’ and ‘Your Personal Guide To Making Authentic Valencia Paellas’. These were at first only as Amazon Kindle ebooks, but by April hard copy versions should also be available on Amazon Books.

Contact if you are interesting in obtaining copies.

(c) Clodagh and Dick Handscombe