Each year more and more expatriates are thinking about growing at least some of their own fruit and vegetables not least in Andalusia. There are a number of reasons.
Secondly people miss the home grown produce they grew on their allotments back in England and allotments are so far few and far between but they are coming.
About four years ago we drove round the ring road of the village of Villamartin in Cadiz province and noticed a well laid area of looked like English style allotments. Correspondence with the mayor proved that they were and that the following rules applied among others. 1.Priority for allocation of allotments were retired people, disabled persons. and school children.
2. The allotments would be worked ecologically.
3. A seed bank and exchange of traditional heirloom varieties would be set up.
Then last November when running a Question and Answer stand at the over 50’s show in Estepona Dick spoke to the persons manning the nearby Agrojardin stand and discovered that they were in the process of launching the letting of some sixty allotments of 50 square metres for hire on a sixth monthly basis to anyone with interest. The allotments are alongside the Rio Quadalmansa garden centre. More information can be obtained on www.huertojardin.com or by telephoning 952 796 231. By the way this garden centre stocks our four gardening books.
More recently we were contacted by Fergus Meegan just after Christmas for advice with his setting up of Alhaurin Allotments at Finca Mariposa in Alhaurin El Grande. The first 40 square metre plots will be ready for renting at a euro a day by early March. For more information and to reserve an allotment call Fergus on 693230287 or email him via email@example.com . Fergus informs us that he will presenting each tenant with a copy of our best selling book ‘Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain’.
So a hundred or so more families will soon being enjoying their own ecologically grown wholesome produce.
It was also encouraging that the Flower shop in front of the entrance to the food market in Malaga sells vegetable plantlets and seeds and that some of their customers are growing vegetables on apartment terraces and rooftops within the city. If an allotment does not appeal but terrace growing does the book we wrote at this time last year ‘Apartment Gardening Mediterranean Style’ explains just how to do this productively starting with just an A4 sheet of paper space.
By the way the route we followed over Christmas was from Guy Hunter Watts new walking book ‘The Andalucian Coast to Coast Walk – from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean’. The total route would take 21 days. We will be back sometime to walk the rest.
Plants found to be still flowering at Christmas
Wandering up into the Axarquia area of Andalucia over Christmas we found the following plants still in flower although above 550 metres some marked * had been caught by air or ground frost. Gazanias, bougainvilleas*, white and yellow jasmines, pineapple and velvet*sages, various lavenders, late flowering bignonias*, euryops, heathers, rosemary, thyme, gorse, broom, hibiscus*, brazilian flame vine*, aloes, wonderful areas of wild blue Sisyrinchium irises above 600 metres and the first almond tree we had seen coming into flower this year.
The winter cutback
As described in some detail in Chapter 6.9 in ‘Your Garden in Spain’ now is the time to do most of your annual major garden cutback and cleanup with exception of plants, shrubs and trees that have already been burnt by early frosts. Leave these until the chance of frosts are post.
Spreading palm deaths
During December we travelled a thousand kilometres by coach along the Mediterranean Coast and during our Christmas trek we walked some 150 kilometres from village to village where we lodged overnight. So we could assess the current spread of the palm weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus which has been killing large numbers of palm trees for the past decade.
The plague is certainly not under control and a mountain top hotel that we stayed at one night ,some six kilometres from the nearest village and several hundred metres above it and experiencing winter frosts, had lost an entire grove of a dozen very mature palms that we had admired seven years earlier. So if you do buy new palms ask for a health certificate and a two year replacement guarantee or play safe and plant tall varieties of cordylines as alternatives.
Happy gardening and the reading and use of our books during 2011.