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What can we do in our garden to prepare for spring?

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It is full winter weather when we see snow on the mountains and continual rain showers although local fable promises us ‘the calms of January’ every year. Let’s see if they happen this year. As I frequently mention local farmers and gardeners always refer to the fazes of the moon or the Saints days or who knows what else to remind themselves of what needs doing in the garden. The waning moon is said to be the best time for cutting back or pruning and that is a never ending job . I mention it now because I had said some weeks back that I would put a reminder in about remembering to prune the Roses.

Here we add the Saints and the moon together. It is said, if you want roses for the Feast of Saint George in April you must have finished pruning them before the day of Saint Anthony. Well there won’t be any bonfire night this year but the Saints day will still come around next weekend on the calander to remind us to get things done. To be practical about Roses, they really must be cut back unless of course you have a rambling variety in which case it is just a matter of cutting off the longer shoots to keep it into the shape you want it.

Other Roses do need a cut right back to a foot or so off the ground every few years and an annual prune to just above a leaf joint, here again depending on what variety of Rose. They can occasionally produce a spur below its graft and that will revert back to a wild Rose so be sure to cut that right back to avoid the bush reverting to a wild Rose sometimes referred to as a Dog Rose.

No matter what or how, Roses grow on new growth so the main idea is to encourage new spurs that will eventually end up in a beautiful blooms. Keeping them well pruned should also encourage the shrub to stay as the veriety originally planted.

Another flower in the garden or on the terrace is the Geranium. I mentioned it a few weeks ago saying that I wondered why it was never considered as the national flower of Spain it grows so well everywhere and needs so little looking after. What it does need though is a really good trim back from time to time. Now is as good a time as any to cut out any dead woody stems or those that have been invaded by the little grey butterfly during the summer months.

That little beast will have ruined much of the tender top shoots of the Geranium so these must be cut right back to below the little black holes.
Geranium really does propagate easily with just a healthy cutting stuck into the ground so get down to increasing the Geraniums this way.
They grow well in pots or directly into the garden so there is no excuse for not having a beautiful display of this easy to grow National flower, Patios in Andalucia are famous for their walls full of plant pots hanging on them just full of all the different shades of the Geranium colours. They probably won’t make such vigorous growth during the cooler months but once thet have made new roots they will just romp ahead, all we need is to keep the little grey butterfly away.

Now into the vegetable garden, just plant up everything in the way of spring vegetables that you can get your hands on if you haven’t already done so, even plant up again for a later harvesting of these favourite spring vegetables.
Planted now and the spring rains will encourage them into early summer cropping. I am of course referring to the peas and bean families which you may already have at least a foot high but there is no harm in planting more. Garlic cloves showing a little green tip in the vegetable rack will romp ahead if planted out.
Bunches of green onions can be bought in the market or even little onion sets to get them started.

srouted garlic clove

Citrus fruits really will come into their own now some varieties just a few weeks ahead of others but this is the best cropping time.
Don’t be mistaken with adding citrus trees to the list of those that need pruning these certainly do not need cutting back yet, that comes in about the month of May when all the fruit has ripened.

This is where we can refer once again to the differences in gardening in Northern gardens to that of gardening here in the Mediterranean, I can’t think of any tree laden with fruit at this time of year in the north where as here and even more so on the coast of Spain, Oranges simply fill the trees with colour.

Top Tips

  • Prune the roses before the day of Saint Anthony if you want roses for the Feast of Saint George in April.
  • Now is a good time to trim out the old wood and damage from the little grey butterfly in the summer to the geraniums.
  • Don’t cut back Citrus until May.

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