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This month in the garden - 2019

April in the garden

The unusually warm February and early March may have fooled us into thinking that summer is already here. Don't forget that cold snap that hit us late last year, when Cadiar growers lost their tomato plants to a killer frost on May 1st. If you have been tempted to put in some summer veg early, it would be wise to keep some fleece handy so you can protect those tender plants should the temperatures take a dip.

Organic certification brings many benefits to farmers. The stamp of approval from organic certification bodies, such as CAAE, allows access to organic markets where products reach a higher price and demonstrates to customers that the grower has serious organic credentials. With so many people nowadays actively seeking out organic produce, not only for health reasons but as a lifestyle choice, many farmers are investing in the extra cost of certification. There is an alternative to third party certification bodies that is much more economical. The SPG (Sistema Participativo de Garantía) [in English PGS (Participatory Guarantee System] is defined by IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) as "locally focused quality assurance systems. They certify producers based on active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange."

Well let's break that down a little...PGS has been around since the 1970s where it first appeared in France. It is a system whereby groups of local farmers work together to choose and define standards and to develop their own certification process. Participation is the key word and all members of the group agree upon the criteria to which they all adhere. Transparency is very important with every member welcoming the rest of their group for a visit of their property every year. The more the members participate, the stronger the group becomes, supporting each other by sharing knowledge and experience, collaborating on work days and cooperating to market products. The Agroalpujarra group which consists of 3 main branches, Orgiva, Cadiar and Costa Tropical have secured themselves a place on the eco mercado in Granada. Between them they have an impressive diversity of products; fruit, nuts, vegetables, honey, sweet chilli sauce, olive oil, seeds, soap and flour from last water powered mill in the Alpujarra.

They will have a stall again this year on the feria “Hecho en la Alpujarra – Feria de Turismo, Artesanía y Alimentación” from April 18th to 21st in the polidesportivo in Orgiva. Come and see us there to find out more about the group and how you can join. www.agroalpujarra.com

Tip: As brassicas start to flower, pinch out the flower buds to prolong harvest. The flower heads are delicious too.

Readers question: I have clumps of little green creatures on the tops of my habas plants. What are they and should I be worried?
What you describe are aphids. They love to suck the sap out of tender new growth and will weaken your plants if left to get out of control. Luckily, they are quite easy to deal with but do it now because they multiply very quickly. A true soap, such as castille, works better than dishwashing detergent as the fatty acids in real soap dissolves the waxy coatings of the insects and causes them to die of excessive moisture loss. Make up a 2% solution of soap and water in a spray bottle and give them a good blast every couple of days.

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