Grow your own world!

This month in the garden - 2019

January

The days are already starting to get longer but while growth in the garden is still slow do as much preparation for spring as you can. Clear out empty beds and start adding manure and compost for summer veg beds. Get tomato poles ready and fix fences. Get holes ready for trees to be planted in February. Garlic, radishes and carrots can be sown.

In the New Year it's customary to make new years resolutions and make decisions about how we're going to live our lives, breaking old habits and starting new ones. Growing our own world has so much more to it than what we can grow in the garden. We can't grow everything we need to live and even those of us with the biggest most productive gardens still have to buy certain produce. Our buying power has a lot of influence on the world around us and this influence has a global reach. The decisions we make about the products we buy help to create the world we all live in. 2018 saw a global campaign to reduce the use of plastics. Plastics are getting into the food chain, literally; an increasing number of marine mammals and sea birds are being found dead as a result of consuming humans' plastic waste. This has touched the hearts of many of us and we can all support the campaign to ban single use plastics. While we wait for the ban to come into action, we can all choose not to buy products packaged in single use plastics. Bananas are on sale in the supermarkets, wrapped in plastic bags. Is it really necessary to wrap bananas? They already come in a biodegradable bag, called a banana skin. Bananas grow on the Costa Tropical, yet the shops are full of bananas imported from South America. We can choose to seek out locally grown food. There is a growing local organic food movement in Granada province. With two monthly farmers' markets both in Granada and the Valle de Lecrin, local growers on the weekly markets in Nerja, Orgiva and Velez de Benaudalla and numerous health food shops throughout the region offering locally grown produce, we can make choices about the food we buy. Supporting local growers not only cuts down on pollution from transportation and packaging, it also keeps farmers in the campo and conserves our beautiful landscape. Shopping locally also gives us the benefit of eating seasonally so we can be sure our walnuts were not grown in California and our asparagus did not come from Peru. European legislation deems that all fruit and veg sold should state its country of origin. Have a look next time you buy some “fresh” produce in the supermarket and see how far it has travelled. We can all grow our own world and create the world we want to leave behind for our children and grandchildren.

Tip: when sowing carrot seeds mix the tiny seeds with sand to help sow the seeds thinly. This will mean less thinning to do later on.

Reader's Question: When is the best time to prune my walnut tree? - Sue, Orgiva
It's best to prune walnut trees when they are in their dormant phase and before the sap has started to rise to carry nutrients to the new spring growth. The sap in walnut trees tends to rise early so it's best to prune the tree nearer the beginning of the dormant phase, so in autumn or early winter when the tree has lost all its leaves. Walnuts are prone to “bleeding” which means sap flows from the pruning cuts. This apparently doesn't harm the tree but can be very alarming for the gardener to see. The sap will be lower on a waning moon.

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