Thoughts about allotments and growing your own veg

DICK AND CLODAGH: Gardening experts

SEVERAL times a year we hear about new attempts to establish English style allotments for growing your own vegetables and in some cases also fruit.

Some have been launched by thoughtful town halls and others by private individuals who have unused fertile land. They stretch from the south to the north of the Euro Weekly News catchment area. Luckily most seem to survive. Typically plots of 100 square metres are on offer which is great for a family or group of friends.

From our knowledge prices vary from €100 a year to a euro a day which is €365 euros a year. Neither were expensive, as the lowest prices were only for the loan of the land and the most expensive included fencing, a shed, supply of water and manure, loan of tools and a rotavator, occasional courses on Saturday or Sunday and, fortunately for us, a copy of ‘Growing healthy vegetables in Spain’ for each tenant!

The main reason for growing one’s own vegetables or fruit is to be able to harvest fresh chemical free produce. So if one person uses chemical pesticides fungicides and fertilisers it ruins things for everyone else.

So check that a project that interests you has rule of ‘100 per cent ecological’. This is not a problem, for with the wide range of varieties of vegetables likely to be grown few pest problems are likely and if they occur inexpensive sulphur powder dustings and sprays with garlic and horse tail infusions or 3 to 5 per cent solutions of neem oil and propolis and a few friendly plants such as fennel, thyme nasturtiums and garlic with solve the problems.

Do follow the advice of our books and aim to work in 25 to 40 per cent of organic mature into the soil over the first couple of years. It is not difficult or expensive these days to source dried or raw goat sheep or horse manure. In many areas sacks of highly nutritious worm compost is also available. Ask at local nurseries and agricultural cooperatives.

Grow whatever you like, what you would like to try, what can be fitted into the size of allotment you hire and what is most nutritious. The range of seeds available in Spain has reduced considerably over the past 20 years so it is worth getting hold of the hard copy or internet catalogues of companies who sell Mediterranean type vegetables as well as northern European ones. Try Chiltern Seeds, Sutton Seeds, Jungle Seeds and Thompson and Morgan for starters. There is a longer list of possibilities listed in the latest printing of our book ‘Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain’. Things that take up most space are courgettes squash and pumpkins.

 

Regarding what is most nutritious we include a list of what have most beneficial vitamins and minerals in ‘Living well from our Mediterranean garden’ and ‘Having a great retirement’. Contact [email protected] if you are interesting in obtaining copies.

This week’s column was stimulated by a stranger coming up to Dick in the street saying ‘You write in EWN don’t you, can you help with our new allotment project?’ He said probably yes and this is the first contribution.

(c) Dick and Clodagh Handscombe www.gardenspain.com March 2013. 

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