We are only halfway through July in the Western Algarve and already my vegetables have frizzled in the extreme temperatures and hot Southernly winds. With temperatures topping just under 40C and the serious threat of drought it’s time to start gradually winding down and covering exposed soil until the autumn. It’s been a while since I participated in Six on Saturday and to be honest, I have missed catching up with other gardeners around the globe.
Most of Portugal is facing extreme drought even more severe than in 2005. Despite pleas from the government to save water, I despair at some people’s complete lack of awareness and frugality. When I hear my neighbour watering her garden for over two hours with a hose I have to wonder and shake my head. What will it take before some people sit up and take notice and take the situation seriously?
We reuse as much water as possible in an attempt to reduce our consumption. For example, when we shower we collect the water in a bucket, wash our hands in a bowl, collect backwash from the pool and grey water from the washing machine all this is then used to water the plants.
We are scaling back growing all fruit and vegetables to the bare minimum and will not be planting more in the main bed until the winter … if at all. But I have to wonder why we are going to so much effort and inconvenience when maybe we should also ‘just let tomorrow take care of itself’.
2. Main Vegetable Area
The remaining runner beans, carrots and courgettes are beginning to die off so over the next two weeks I will continue to cover the exposed areas of soil with black plastic to suppress the weeds while the area ‘rests’ over the remainder of the summer and we can conserve water.
Although carrots are cheap to buy you cannot beat the taste of those you grow. Sadly, the last of these will be pulled today! Okay, they would not win any prizes for looks but they taste amazing!
3. Strawberry Bed
Yep, you can be forgiven for expecting to see strawberries in a ‘strawberry bed’. Earlier this year we revamped this raised bed after invasive roots from the nearby melaleuca hedge and mint completely infested the area making it unusable. We created a brick base, laid plastic sheeting as a root barrier, and then added manure and soil from the compost heap.
We stood back to admire our handy work and the virgin bed. Satisfied we planted about fifty strawberry plants all neatly spaced like soldiers on parade. Sadly, for whatever reason, most of the plants withered and died. Luckily Mother Nature had other plans for the bed and provided a chaotic mixture of tomato plants, squash and physalis (Chinese gooseberry) probably thanks to me meticulously composting all the green kitchen waste.
Hmmm … the squash leaves are rather yellow … not enough or too much water. They need feeding again or have had too much feed …
At the far end of the bed, I planted mixed lettuce seedlings. I’ve covered these with crates to provide some protection from the sun and enthusiastic blackbirds harvesting the worms.
The self-seeded butternut squash has already provided six free squash. There would have been more but due to the lack of bees, I had to hand pollinate the female flowers with a paintbrush.
I grew these from seed so I am a happy bunny to finally be harvesting aubergines!
5. Tomato Challenges
These are meant to be cherry plum tomatoes. I’ve grown them before but the plum shape is absent along with the taste. Blight is also beginning to develop so their days are numbered.
6. Growing Salad Crops in Containers
Maybe my greatest success is growing lettuce. I cover the container with open plastic crates to ward off the blackbirds… little devils like to dig for worms.
My next batch of tomatoes I’m growing in a pot on the front terrace. So far so good!
Well, folks. That’s all for my Six this Saturday.
Related Posts: Piglet’s Saturday Gardening Adventures