August Jobs in the Mediterranean Garden,
Seasonable & Sustainable
We are passionate about plants!
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Probably the best little garden centre in Andalucia!
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We are passionate about plants!
As the sweat and sizzle of summer surrounds us, it’s time to relax,
laze and enjoy that much-loved Spanish tradition of siesta
accompanied by the singing cicadas. Gardening will be early
morning when it is deliciously fresh or a late evening potter.
Enjoy the intense aromas of your hard work – sun-ripened tomatoes,
spicy chillies and ripe sweet melon blended with the blowsiness of
basil, mint and lemon verbena. Evenings will douse you in jasmine,
dama de noche, citrus blossom and ginger lilies. Bees are
drunk on pollen, butterflies are fluttering and the early morning
birds are definitely out catching the worms! Then you will know
that you’ve gardened well!
The Viveros Florena Team are having a well-deserved rest – well,
we think it’s well deserved! August is, in many ways, the end of our
plant year – we rise mightily again in September!
It’s been quite a year with the birth of our youngest apprentice – he’s already up and walking, desperate to get into every plant and bucket of water all mixed up with mouthfuls of gravel! My favourite in-the-mind image of him is with his head stuck into a huge thyme plant, breathing in all those wonderful aromas and coming up smiling!
My own health problems have been tackled and sorted – hopefully we’ll all soon be able to say the same of covid.
So it’s flip flops on, hammock and a good book, restoring body and mind.
We will be closed for the entire month of August.
Important Days to Remember this Month:
1 st August: Lammas Day. Lughnasaid. International Friendship Day. International Beer Day
4th August: Aboriginal Children’s Day
8 th August: World Cat Day
9 th August: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
12 th August: International Youth Day and Vinyl Record Day
13 th August: International Left Hander’s Day
15 th August: Feast of the Assumption and Night of the Wine in Cómpeta
17 th August: World Honeybee Day
19 th August: World Humanitarian Day. Start of the Islamic New Year.
20 th August: World Mosquito Day
21 st August: World Senior Citizens Day
22 nd August: World Plant Milk Day
23 rd August: International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
25 th August: Kiss and Make Up Day
26 th August: Equality Day for Women
29 th August: International Day against Nuclear Testing
30 th August: International Day of the Disappeared
Moon’s Phases: 3 rd August full moon; 18 th August new moon
August’s Birth Flowers: gladiolus and poppy. The gladiolus or sword lily indicates that the heart is being pierced with love! It represents infatuation, but also calm, integrity, sincerity and generosity. The poppy has modern-day connotations but originally symbolised eternal sleep and oblivion.
August is a big holiday month for many of us, though this year will definitely not be normal! If you’re staying home, it’s not a month for too much activity! Our Mediterranean-style plants feel the same. Many go summer dormant so do not try and force them to perform; they need their rest period to survive extreme conditions. Do
not prune, though dead-heading is ok, do not apply strong fertiliser; your plants are stressed by the heat so, in general, just leave them to make their own adjustments at their own pace.
In contrast, semi-tropicals and tropicals like to be fussed over, given extra water, plenty of fertiliser and, because they are the stars at this time of the year, you need to keep them looking fresh and fabulous. They’re slightly diva, so dead-head frequently, trim away old or damaged leaves and give them a mist over now and again. They love to be loved – and you’ll see them smile!
Pest Control: Get out there early in the morning whilst it’s lovely and fresh and just take a leisurely walk around your garden. It’s a good time to spot problems and act before they get out of control.
Ant Control: Armies of ants are back on the rampage. The best product we know is
Diatomaceous Earth. Sprinkled around their nests and along their pathways, it desiccates them. You can even sprinkle it on ant-infested plants, it won´t harm your plants at all and is harmless to warm mammals like cats, dogs and chickens.
Red Spider Mite Control: If you have any form of greenhouse, tunnel etc. you could be finding red spider mite a problem. They thrive in very hot and dry conditions, especially where there is little airflow, so even plants climbing up a wall can be prone.
Plants will start to look a little sickly with a mottled effect on their leaves; when the situation is really bad, you may actually see very fine spiders webbing coating your plants. Keeping humidity up will help, though this can be difficult. Apply neem oil in bad cases because these webs can literally suffocate a plant.
Powdery mildew: often shows when plants are stressed. Deep watering will help or use a spray of copper fungicide to help control it.
Herbs: Herbs are some of our easiest garden plants to grow and great value for money.
Few people stop to think why they are so aromatic - well it’s their own form of chemical warfare. Those strong tasting and smelling leaves are meant to deter grazing animals but that is not their only wiliness. When herbs are grown soft and spoilt with fertilisers to produce lots of leaves, they sense that they are under no stress or danger, so the chemicals being sent to their leaves are reduced. Grow them hard and lean and you’ll be overwhelmed by their scent and tastiness. Two of the best – mint and basil – will root easily in water! Or take root cuttings of mint, it’s so easy. Simply turn the plant out of its pot and gently pull away a length of the thick white root that is snaking around the edge. Chop it into sections, lay on compost and lightly cover with more
compost. Water regularly and you´ll soon see new shoots poking through. Often this is better than trying to regenerate old pot-bound plants that are worn out.
Lavender and rosemary: give many of you problems. The answer is to lightly trim regularly. Every time a flush of flowers finishes, trim 5cm or so all around to promote bushiness below. Never cut into tough old wood; they usually won´t regenerate.
Veg: remove old and diseased leaves from tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, melon etc. And keep feeding them as fruits develop. A liquid fertiliser in this case as it’s quick acting, bringing instant nourishment to boost crops.
Seeds: Collect seeds from summer flowerers. Try planting immediately because lots of these need real warmth to germinate.
Shade plants: sometimes get a little ignored because they are not flowering right now but it is a vital time for things like camellias, gardenias, azaleas and hydrangeas. Next year’s buds will be starting to develop soon so keep them lightly watered and give them a light feed to help them along.
Clear Weed Growth: I know it’s not always easy but do try and cut down dead weed growth; it’s a huge tinderbox as conditions get drier and drier. Strimming is best, leaving the roots intact to help with soil erosion and encourage a wonderful show of wild flowers next spring.
Bulbs for Autumn Planting: If you want a fabulous springtime display, now is the time to plan and think about your autumn bulb planting. The obvious are daffodils, crocus and tulips, but think also of more unusual bulbs like alliums, iris, lilies, species gladioli – they’re all good ones for Med climates.
Irrigation Systems: Stroll around in the evening checking that everything is working well. Clean microtubes and sprayers, which can easily block up.
Pots: Keep them looking wonderful with constant deadheading and regular fertilising.
A liquid fertiliser is usually best for colourful pots as you need something quick acting.
Save Our World: Homo sapiens sapiens, literally meaning human being wise, wise. So wise they named us twice! So why are we in such a mess? We’ve had fire, flood and plague and we still carry on thoughtlessly. One of the many things we should have learnt from the covid crisis and lockdown is that we just do not need consumerism, we do not need so many ‘things’.
I’ve not been out shopping with my daughters and grand-daughter since the lockdown.
It was something we always loved. But you know, what was important about it was the being together; we’ve learnt the true value of that, how time together is irreplaceable.
In 2019 the world threw away a shocking 53.6 million tonnes of electronic waste, up 21% from 5 years ago. Europeans are the most wasteful, discarding annually 22.4 kgs per person – even worse than the U.S., which, you might imagine, would head the table. Shame on us.
Something New (in plants, not electronics!): Ensete ventricosum Maurelli, the red Abyssinian banana, is a beautiful semi-tropical plant. The elegant maroon-red foliage and leaf axils will reach up to around 3m tall and its great paddle-like striped leaves make it very striking. Mix with other bright colours, reds, oranges or hot pinks for summer sizzle- It can set fruit but they are dry and inedible.
Tip of the Month: I love Mexican fleabane or erigeron karvanskianus. The simple little daisy flowers froth around like sea foam. Try them between paving slabs or in cracks up a flight of steps (as in the picture) for a soft and natural look. They’re very happy in a dry situation.
Job of the Month: At this time of the year, it’s quite common to come across a sweet potato in your veg basket that has started shooting. You’re well on your way to having a lovely foliage plant and crop of sweet potatoes around Christmas time! If there are several slips (shoots), carefully cut them away leaving a small sliver of sweet potato attached. Place this in water and you’ll soon see roots developing. At this stage, plant them out in the garden or a large pot. It forms a vine-like plant which you can train up a framework or let it trail from a pot. It’s a very decorative plant and will be growing those tasty tubers underground.
Plant of the Month: kalanchoe beharensis is a great August plant because it can survive all the heat you throw at it – and not only will it survive, it will thrive!
Commonly known as felt bush – touch it and you’ll know why – it’s a fab architectural plant with its great big triangular grey-felted leaves and gaunt stature. Equally good in a pot or in the ground, it is also very drought resistant. Try it against a deep-coloured wall, it won´t disappoint.
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly! Van Morrison.
See you all in September!