I have been picking the brains of the Ukveggardener experts for a good three years now, but family events earlier in the year, lead me to Andalucia for the winter months, hopefully, to avoid the worst of the British weather.
Perhaps I should report my progress or lack of it, during this year. I am basically a fruit grower. I am going to pick chestnuts in Spain soon,but my enthusiasm for apples, pears, and grapes also is unabated. I got three grafted vines from Vic, last year, but lost one in February this year. the other two are doing well and in an excellent location. I aalso lost a 2m high vine probab;y from age and infirmity, about forty years, although they can last a century or more. an apple tree can go on for 150 years, and it was with sadness for the old, that i cut the last one down about 5 years ago. New ones are doing well, although Beauty of Bath is being crowded out by the grapes, the increase of which latter has been sensational this year. if the grape crop is anything like the increase in its foliage, I shall have about 6 gallons of good wine to crow about in a couple of months time, to mature in 2018-19.
Fermentation is interesting to compare Grape and Apple juice fermentation. Totally different, at least for these particular grapes, and apples. I learn more about fermentation and how to use it as the years go by. Three years is not that long for cider to go on fermenting. 12 months is just about enough for a good drink.
I started to grow Aubergines, Artichokes and Asparagus this year and discovered why they are high value crops in these islands. I saw a large field of asparagus in Spain a few weeks ago, wafting gently in the wind, and thought to myself that they can grow 10,000 in rows and I am unable to grow one, in my garden in Darzet. What have I done to deserve such a fate?
Globe artichokes are quite tough plants, thistly, in a way and the tender fruit can, like pickled walnuts, be picked and eaten young.....the WHOLE FRUIT, not just the nut or the flesh. The pickled walnut shell is completely soft to start of with which is when they have to be pickled and eaten. The same applies to the Globe Artichoke.
The Aubergines took off very well in February and I had an excellent foliage by May, and then they started to wilt in the greenhouse and nothing I could do would save them. I left them outside and they lasted a little longer so perhaps it was too hot in the GH and good practice would say take them out in early June?I shan't mention Asparagus again although.......
My gardening soil excavation of the last few years to make the garden tolerable but close to a much busier road have nearly reached their completion. I now have the space for raised beds or even a polytunnel of 120sq m, which has sufficient hobby space for any active septaguenarian such as myself. It also reduced the dependence on the public road for this property since there is now so much of interest, and to do in the garden, which there had ceased to be before the soil re-arrangements.
Late least year I set forth on a lean-to DIY greenhouse. It was a meccano/lego challenge, and it took me about three months to build and there are things about it which are not perfect but still marvellous for me.
As a child, I wept when I was not allowed to use two greenhouses attached to a Victorian home in the home counties, gh which had coal/wood boilers attached to them. It was my ambition ever since to have a greenhouse and at last I have one and it is doing excellent service with a variety of vegetables including my chosen species of tomato. I gave up the Mamande outside grown with vigorous weeds, to provide a huge crop of GREEN tomatoes, in order to grow them for a longer season, in the greenhouse. The small crop on a couple of tomato vines are doing well. I hope to have red tomatoes later instead of green ones soon.
I went in to the business of topiary in more detail in 2014. Yew and box are now doing well in pots, and my front yew hedge now has 5 fine turrets, and will soon have seven. I am doing much more pot planting, using 12x16 and 16x20 pots to last much longer and to get plenty of increase before planting them in the ground. Clematis Montana can be most interesting as a flower training plant but the Espalier fruit tree or the "Dwarf" I am not interested in, largely trained as they may be. Cotoneaster is another topiary plant I have been enjoying, working, this year.
Changing a very informal "wild flowers" garden in to a formal one, as I have been doing, can be a heart breaking exercise, demolishing things that late Mother liked but which are just impossibly placed for more formality. I now, after five years of organic work, have the useful basis of a formal garden, topiary at its core, and fruit too.
The term "organic" seems to have changed over the years. Campaigns against wicked big business have subsided, but I do still take term to have good meaning if considerably changed. Dedication to the manual skills of gardening, and small horticulture, has been lost in these islands, due to easy consumerism, and mass production of food. The organic skill of gardening, including digging, which few people want to do, are themselves the most important part of the organic world. It is not the "nasty monopoly" seed merchant Gm changer that matters now, but the fact of production by those who, instead of footling in Gyms with barbells and weights, or "jogging" , are glad and happy to get in to the garden and DIG at any time of the year, and to plant, not millions of seeds for mass production, but just a few, for ones selves.
Happy Days to all my very helpful correspondents at UKveg gardeners. THANK YOU!
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