by Dick Handscombe, gardener and author living in Spain for 25 years.

For most, October was an enjoyable month for gardening and entertaining in the garden as the weather was a helter-skelter ride of hot and wet days. The latter stimulated autumn growth and flowers, making it easy to undertake autumn plantings of trees shrubs and overwintering vegetables.

Hopefully November will follow in a similar vein so that such jobs can be completed. As the weather is now cooler and the daytime hours shorter, it is wise to plant and sow by the lunar calendar.

For November the best days for sowing seeds (s), bulbs (b), plants (p), and trees (t) are as follows:

Root vegetables – radishes (s), onions (p), garlic (b) – November 1/2, 17/18/19, 28/29.

If you planted potato tubers back in September for new potatoes at Christmas, do keep earthing them up and if frost threatens, protect them with a plastic/fleece or bubble wrap tunnel.

Leaf vegetables – leeks (p), cabbages (p), sorrel (p), dandelion (p – November 23/24

Flower vegetables and flowering shrubs and trees – broccoli (p) cauliflowers (p), romenesque (p), spring flowering bulbs (b) – November 11/12.

Fruit vegetables and fruit trees – globe artichokes (p), peas (s), broad beans (s), sweet peas (s) and fruit trees (t) – November 7/8, 17 mornings.

Taking and planting cuttings from shrubs is best done on a root day to stimulate root growth. Now that the weather is cooler it is wise to use rooting powder when potting up the cuttings. Incidentally in relation to these dates, the new moon will be on 3rd Nov and the full moon on 17th Nov.

Last month I was fishing 24 hours a day by the Ebro at the full moon. Sitting by the bank in a comfortable folding chair on a starlit windless night, one had a perfect reflection of the night sky once the moon had passed over the horizon with the turning of the earth. It reminded me how elderly Spanish agriculturalists, mostly now sadly passed on, used to recount to us how they used to sit on a stone terrace wall with their grandfathers in times before the TV and street lights for nightly instruction in the patterns and movements of the moon, stars and planets and their relative positions in relation to good and poor days for sowing, planting, harvesting, cutting of canes, pruning tree, mating animals etc. When we compared their pronouncements with our modern day lunar calendar they were cannily accurate. No personal bests this time, but matched my second best carp with one of 45 pounds at 2.30am on the second of five days.

Several persons asked us during the busy guest season what they should use to reduce the murkiness of swimming pool water caused by sun creams and oils and dirty feet. We have suggested Seaklear which is described on It will give an extra-special water purification before adding permanganate or covering over the pool for the winter.

Lastly, the growth of shrubs has been incredible after the autumn rains, so do trim the most untidy to have a good looking garden for Christmas and pathways that you can walk down.

gardening-booksIt’s Timely To Order Christmas Presents From Amazon Books

Gardening and Lifestyle books that have an on-going practical use make good Christmas presents for family and friends and those written by Dick Handscombe and his wife Clodagh make good buys. Unfortunately with the closure of many English book shops and book distributors in Spain it is most practical to buy by mail order from internet shops such as Amazon or Santana Books from whom you can also order by phone on 952 485 838 from 10am-2pm Monday to Friday.

The basic quartet of books is illustrated in the photo, but there are now also the following smaller books:

Your Personal Guide To Making Authentic Valencian Paellas.

gardening-cover-paella-(5)Your Personal Guide To Having A Great Retirement.

Living Well From Our Garden – Mediterranean Style.

Making Waterless Gardens A Practical Reality Worldwide.

Adventure Along The Spanish Pyrenees

gardening-europeThis is an interesting travel-log describing the 52 day 950km retirement walk Dick and Clodagh made from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean Sea. This is the rarely walked nature’s wilderness alternative to the busy pilgrim route to Santiago to Compostello. The book will be published early November.

© Dick Handscombe