God loves a “tryer” and as Mr Piglet says I’m very trying! Every year I attempt to grow my own vegetables with varying degrees of success. I do not have a Horta (Allotment) but a patch of poor sandy earth in a small, windswept urban garden in the Algarve. High humidity and salt air, due to the close proximity of the Atlantic Ocean, wreaks havoc with many vegetables causing a white mold to appear on their leaves.
We have our own micro-climate and as yet I have not found a definitive guide to growing vegetables in the Algarve. Basically it’s very much trial and error! Frosts are rare and I have noted temperatures during February and March can be as high as 20C during the day, but at night can plummet to as low as 5C. I am still experimenting as to what to plant when and what’s successful and what’s not. I intend to use my gardening posts, instead of scraps of paper (which I usually lose), to keep a record and hope other aspiring gardeners in the Algarve and maybe even further afield may also find my ramblings useful and hopefully, even reciprocate by sharing their successes and failures. I’m not proud all suggestions welcome!
Last year I abandoned the space loosely but lovingly called my vegetable plot as the hedge and trees planted to provide shelter and privacy sapped any nourishment from the soil.
“Can’t” is not in Piglet’s vocabulary so I decided to experiment as to which herbs, fruit and vegetables grew well in pots. These included cucumbers, courgettes, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, strawberries, squash, French beans, radish, basil, parsley, garlic, chili peppers, aubergines (egg plants) and bell peppers. So if you live in an apartment with a sunny balcony or have a small garden there is no excuse not to grow your own!
I admit the planning and location of my vegetable plot was not one of my “brightest” moments and one I came to regret. I am now pleased to say I’ve found a solution! Mr. Piglet, after much persuasion and groveling on my part, has just built me a raised vegetable bed!
I won’t tell you how many bags of soil and manure has gone into the bed so far plus my complete compost heap. I will still be filling it up from my organic compost heap next year…to the “dulcet” tones of Mr. Piglet saying “I told you it was too big” Don’t you just love it when men do that?
The plan this year is to grow my tomatoes, strawberries, garlic and chili peppers in pots, but grow spinach, French beans, beetroot, cucumber, squash, watermelon, lettuce, aubergines, yellow peppers, radishes etc in the raised bed.
Piglet’s planting diary – February
7/2 Bought baby courgette and strawberry plants from market. Planted courgettes in new raised bed but protected them with plastic collars made from the 5Ltr water bottles and strawberries in pots. I will sow further courgette seeds in April/May for a later crop.
10/2 Started seeds in pots: cherry tomatoes, beef tomatoes broad beans, French beans and cucumber.
23/2 Planted seeds directly into raised bed: French beans, beetroot, spinach and radish
23/2 Started seeds in pots: Lettuce, aubergines, schnaufer tomatoes and flat leaf parsley.
I prefer to start all my own vegetables from seed but sometimes I do feel they are doomed the moment I open the packet. It seems very hit and miss and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the soil, too much water, not enough light, to cold. I’ve tried to buy some fine Vermiculite to add to the soil but as yet I have been unable source any due to language/translation problems as I understand this may help.
If anyone has any suggestions or can offer any useful tips, as I said above, please PLEASE share!