by Dick Handscombe, holistic gardener and author who has enjoyed the Spanish climate for 27 years.

Hot Dry Weather Ahead
Unless something miraculous happens it looks like June and the summer ahead could be dry.

gardening-2014-05-09-10.50.18We have experienced the driest six months to end of March for fifty years and the driest April for 100 years, so take care to walk the garden every couple of days to watch for plants needing a watering, especially those that are only moderately drought resistant. One advantage of the great weather is a very colourful garden as late spring and early summer flower displays have merged. The second is that gardeners have early tans!

The other day a pantechnican passed the gate transporting yet another family back to the UK. The same day the English papers forecast that torrential rains and gale force winds were about to batter Britain for 72 hours. It seemed unbelievable that one would leave the generally good Spanish climate and go to where all the Spanish rain has gone, due, so were told, to global warming. Be aware that gardens do need to be designed to enjoy the Spanish weather to the full.

Is Your Garden Organised For The Summer?
gardening-2014-05-11-06.23.59Have you installed canvas or plant-covered gazebos or sails to give deep shade if natural shade is not available from maturing trees? These are rather more stable than large umbrellas in strong winds which do sweep down the Med and up from North Africa. A four square metre umbrella on one of our eating terraces collapsed in high winds two months ago, so the opportunity was taken to revamp the paella and tagine coking area and build an all-weather gazebo. Fortunately it was used on a hot sunny May Day for a paella party, naturally following what is said in my book.
If you still rely on a watering system, have the jets and duration of watering been set to summer conditions? Do remember that the aim is to have damp soil around and just below the deepest roots. To be sure that you are achieving this, dig a few holes alongside plants and check the state of the soil at various levels. If you see a dampness meter in a gardening shop, grab it – it can be very useful.
Have you set up a woven plastic shade over summer lettuces and annual herbs if they are not planted in a dapple shaded spot? Even tomatoes and peppers do not require sun all day.

gardening-pict4527Summer Fruit Vegetables
Summer fruit vegetables sown or planted as plantlets should be growing well by now and starting to yield good crops. I enjoyed harvesting the first tomatoes, peppers and aubergines in the second week of May. If you see plantlets still available, perhaps outside Chinese shops, it is not too late to plant them in large pots and grow them on a terrace or drive. By the way, they do not need sun all day.

gardening-DSCF2602Excess Fruit Harvests
From June onwards you could well have more fruit ready to pick than you can eat immediately. If you don’t do all ready, freeze, bottle or dry them for later use. The first could well be apricots and white fleshed peaches. The latter are great bottled in brandy or anise and later eaten with a home-made olive oil ice cream.

Buying the Handscombe’s Books
With the collapse of the network of bookshops and distributors of English language books in many towns in Spain, the most convenient way of obtaining the gardening and lifestyle books written by Dick and Clodagh Handscombe is via the internet, including Amazon Books. If you do a search for Dick Handscombe, most books should come up in on go.
By the way, ‘Our 52 Day Retirement Adventure Along The Spanish Pyrenees’ Is selling well. Dick thanks readers for their support.

© Dick Handscombe