December Jobs in the Mediterranean Garden,
Seasonable & Sustainable
December means the tenth month; it was only when the Roman Emperor Numa Pompilius added January and February to the calendar that all the months had to be nudged along. It is, of course, the month of the winter solstice, the shortest day, and longest night, of the year. Also known as midwinter or Yule, it falls on 22 nd December this year. It symbolises the first real winter month, the season of darkness and dormancy for many animals even, to some extent, here in the Mediterranean area; Holly, ivy and evergreen boughs are used to decorate the home and, traditionally, a sprig of mistletoe was hung above the threshold as a good luck charm for the coming year. The idea of kissing under it is a modern twist. The solstice is celebrated throughout the world, in Japan, people take a relaxing bath scented with yuzu citrus fruits to protect themselves from colds and flu.
What a great idea! We can be emotionally tired after a long year, so if an enervating bath doesn’t appeal, sit peacefully by the fire, snuggle into an armchair with a blanket and book, take time out to relax and unwind. When the weather is bad, there is nothing more comforting than the shelter of home.
During good spells of weather relaxing and pottering in the garden is so de-stressing (not distressing) and we owe it to ourselves. Recent rains have been life-saving in many ways and, on sunny winter days, it is an absolute delight to be out there! I know that many of you make this a busy month with shopping, eating, drinking, partying and generally be merry but take time out to unwind too. It’s the natural way.
Important Days to Remember this Month:
1 st December: World AIDS Day
2 nd December: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
3 rd December: World Day for the Handicapped
5 th December: World Soil Day/World Water Day/International Volunteer Day
8 th December: International Children’s Day
9 th December: International Anti-Corruption Day – haha
10 th December: Human Rights Day
11 th December: International Mountain Day
13 th December: Friday the 13 th
15 th December: International Tea Day
22 nd December: Winter Solstice
25 th December: Christmas Day
31 st December: New Year’s Eve, Hogmanay
Every Wednesday morning Bio Food and Health Market at Viveros Florena, though there will be no market on 25 December and 1 January.
Moon Phases: 12 th December is the full moon, known as the long night’s moon or cold moon. According to NASA, this year it is particularly important – it will reach its peak at 12.12am on the 12 th day of the 12 th month. New moon 26 th December.
December Birth Flower: the narcissus. Don´t confuse this with the daffodil (a type of narcissus), which is the birth flower of March. Here we are talking about winter flowering narcissus such as the delightfully scented Paperwhite. Narcissi are natives of the Mediterranean. The flower symbolises good wishes, respect and faithfulness.
Planting: Conditions are great for planting almost everything. Remember with new plantings to firm them in well and check after heavy winds to make sure they haven´t loosened. If plants are rocking, they don´t get a chance to root in. Don´t forget to apply a mycorrhizal rooting product – this increases root growth by up to seven times and makes the plant much more self-sufficient in terms of water and food.
Keeping warm: Don´t forget the horticultural fleece. At only €0,50 per m2 you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes to tender plants. Often it is just a case of cutting the wind.
Mulching: Part of keeping warm is protecting roots too and after heavy rain, is an ideal time to apply mulch thickly. Triple purpose, it keeps roots warm, renovates soil by improving earthworm and beetle activity and blocks weed growth.
Harvesting: Lots of the citrus mature around the end of the year. Keep picking and eating those golden blobs of sunshine!
Cutting Back: With the long and late autumn, there’s still time to cut back herbaceous perennials. Leave grasses for the birds – you’ll enjoy their acrobatics - and, if they do get lightly frosted or heavily dewed, they look fab!
Pruning: If you live in a cold area, you may prefer to leave pruning evergreens until early spring so there’s no danger of new growth getting frosted. Remember that citrus trees are pruned after the crop has been taken or, in the case of lunar lemons (perpetual fruiters), prune branches now and again (avoiding the summer months) so as not to lose flowers and fruit. Deciduous vines, fruit and ornamental shrubs and trees should all be pruned once they have lost their leaves. Olive trees are pruned after harvesting, December into January. Right at the end of the month and in to
January, you can prune roses but more on that next month.
Winter Veg: It’s time to sow things like winter lettuce, radish, beetroot, chard, spinach, peas, beans, leeks, onions and garlic and root crops like carrots Work the soil well for carrots otherwise you’ll end up with some weird twisted offerings, though tasty all the same.
Beasties: Keep a sharp eye out for processionary caterpillar nests, they’re about. If they’re low you can just cut out the nests and burn them. Always cover up well and mask the eyes and mouth when working around pine trees; the fine caterpillar hairs can blow around in the wind and cause severe irritation. Under new European regulations, the Ynject system is no longer available to home gardeners. You have to be properly licensed now to use the insecticide and it means employing a professional. The only other answer seems to be traps wrapped around the tree trunks so that when the caterpillars start to descend, they are trapped, but you need a very tight seal between the trap and trunk or they will find their way through.
Most other insects will now be going dormant so you can largely take a rest too from the ravages of the palm and agave weevil and the cochineal beetle amongst others. But this is the time of year when fungal diseases are very prevalent – things like mildew, rust, black spot etc. Spray with organic neem
oil or copper fungicide; a cheap home-made solution of skimmed milk, water and bicarb of soda is effective on minor infections.
Save Our World: Some interesting statistics from SER Radio.
If the population of Spain decided to go vegetarian or vegan, there would be a 71% reduction in CO2 emissions, a 36% reduction in consumption of water and a 62% reduction in the use of land. Surprisingly, perhaps, in the last year 20% of the Spanish (not sure if this includes the foreign population), have changed to a vegetarian/vegan diet. If it seems like a huge commitment, changing for just one week amounts to 100 km of car driving combined with 500 flushes of the toilet!! So, maybe, just now and again, we could all have a week free of meat and make a considerable
contribution to the environment.
Something New: And talking of fruit and veg, we love all things natural, fresh and preferably organic, so we started our weekly mini Food and Health Market some 18 months ago. Stallholders have come and gone, as is the way of things, but our biggest problem has been finding a regular fruit and veg stall which we consider is an integral part of the market. So, we’re taking things into our own hands!
From January 2020, we will have access to a huge range of organically certified fruit and veg. Every Friday we will email/whatsapp the availability list for the following week with prices; send us your order by Monday morning and we will have it at the market for you on Wednesday for collection (or the day after if you can´t manage Wednesday).
If you want to subscribe to this scheme, just send us your name with email address or whatsapp number.
Remember, it’s certified organic, it’s fresh and it’s on your doorstep.
Always something new at Viveros Florena!
Tip of the Month: Create a flaming corner to warm you up on cold winter days. The flame vine (pyrostegia venusta) is one that lots of you will know for its sheets of orange flowers during the winter months. Plant in front of it aloe arborescens, the red hot poker aloe – ideal to poke the flames! – and as a dark smoky contrast, try alternanthera Purple Knight. It’s a combination you won´t regret, pull your chair up close and bask in its heat!
Job of the Month: Keep the Christmas tree watered if you want it to have a chance of survival later. Once decorated, we tend to forget that they are still living things. Even if you don´t intend to plant it out later, it will retain its needles better if kept damp. Don´t overwater your poinsettias, they’ll
rot and collapse – it’s always better to keep them on the dry side. We’ve a huge range in stock in lots of colours.
Plant of the Month: Staying on the theme of fiery plantings, crocosmia Lucifer is another glowing one – direct from the devil himself! A South African bulbous plant that grows wild in open grassland, it, logically, goes well with grasses – delightful in tawny schemes or strikingly good with purple fountain grass or steely blue Lyme grass – its bright red flowers can carry on from the scarlet of poppies. A small plant will rapidly spread into a big striking clump. Plants will be arriving this week at Viveros Florena.
STOP PRESS – Our bare-rooted roses from England are here! Perfect planting time.
Viveros Florena, Cómpeta
with Shabby Shed Shop, The Shambles below and Café.
Winter hours, 10am until 4pm, closed Sundays and Mondays.
Bio Food and Health Market every Wednesday morning.
We are closed from 22 December 2019 until 6th January 2020 inclusive.
We are passionate about plants!
Garden Centre, Designers and Landscapers
Probably the best little garden centre in Andalucia!
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- please talk to us!!
We are passionate about plants!