Some heavy rains not enough

UNDER ATTACK: Rice crop suffering from snail pest.

MANY readers will now have had a few storms or days of drizzle but unfortunately this has done very little to dampen the soil in gardens more than a few centimetres down.

So take care planting out timely young vegetable plantlets such as broccoli, cabbages, cauliflowers, various colours and leaf forms of lettuces, chicory, onions, leeks, green and white celery and especially the bigger rooted globe artichoke plantlets. It helps if you mix TerraCottem soil improvement gel into the planting holes whether in the open ground, raised beds, a growing table or containers. After planting give the plants a good soak. If you have never heard of or used this product it is available in Spain from TerraVerde. Have a look at their website for full information and a link for placing orders.

This product in the ground helped considerably to keep our salvia, sage, forest alive during the long hot drought and it is now starting to come into flower. Hopefully the display will be even better than last year.


Tomorrow mornings first job is to plant up half a dozen infill shrubs. In each case some TerraCottem will be worked into the soil at the bottom of the planting holes to ensure a continuity of moisture during the first couple of years. After what I said earlier each planting hole will be filled twice with water which will be allowed to soak away into the surrounding soil and the planted area will be well soaked after planting.

Unfortunately as the hillsides green up it is very evident that many pine trees have died in recent months. Apparently this is due to attacks from Caleóptera tomicus destruens, a small flying insects that attacks via the leaves, on trees under stress from low water tables. Where the insect appeared from I don’t know. May be it has always been around but not a major problem. If you have small trees a spray with a neem oil-water solution may help prevent an attack.

While I was away fishing  news came across of another new pest attacking rice crops. It is a large snail that breeds on land but then enters the water in the rice fields to chew the stems. Unfortunately, like many small fish now in Spanish rivers, the snails entered the eco sytem after the snails were imported and sold as pets by Catalonian pet shops. Washing out their aquariums or allowing them to escape seems to have created a major problem in just a few years. If you ever come across any, they are apparently some three to five centimetres across, do report them to your local environmental, medio ambiente, agency.

To date I have not heard of any of the UK’s new invasion of large 10 inch slugs. If you do, again let your local  environmental, agency know. I would also be interested to hear of this to warn other readers.

Purchasing our books

We have just been notified that Santana Books,  the publisher of our books Your garden in Spain, Growing healthy fruit in Spain, Growing healthy vegetables in Spain and Apartment Gardening are going out of business at the end of the year due to the competition from internet information for some of their titles.

So Amazon Books and other internet bookshops will be the only route to obtaining those books, as it is has been for our newer books during the past year.

That’s all for this week. Do enjoy the rest of the current Indian Summer.


© Dick Handscombe October 2014


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