Surviving the Spanish summer

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GOOD ROOTS: Coaching roots to search for nutrients and water reduces the gardening effort required.

AT the time of publication it will be still only be July 7 but some readers will have already experienced over 40 degrees Fahrenheit and with no rain yet forecast.

Will we get rain or not? Will we continue to have no or little rain until the autumn, it’s anyone’s guess. For sure the monthly thunderstorms of the early 90’s are a thing of the past and the ‘Gota Frias’ of mid-September are now most likely to be one or two months later.

With a generally mature garden we only started watering the flower garden on the first of June and then only where necessary once a week.

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The main thing is that we are coaching roots to search for nutrients and water, not giving it to them on a plate. This way they develop good root systems which will reduce our gardening efforts in the future.

Already the considerable shade we have in the garden from high trees and hedges is invaluable. Deep shade becomes the outdoor workshop as well as the place for lunch, siestas, reading newspapers and books and thinking about the content of newspaper articles and new books.

Apart from going indoors to sleep, the interior of the house is rarely visited and when it is it is a cool below 20 degrees centigrade temperature and the wooden shutters are closed all day to keep the sun out in traditional Spanish style. Once the sun is down shutters and windows can be opened to achieve a night time cooling breeze across the bedroom.

Having come to Spain 25 years ago we became accustomed and acclimatised to living without air conditioning or indeed winter central heating. 

We came for the generally liveable climate and did not attempt to establish an expensive electricity driven artificial UK office and home and climates. 

Likewise generally we chose plants that caused few summer problems and work.

For those who live in apartments blinds and awnings transform the life for persons, pets, and plants. As explained and illustrated in our book Apartment Gardening Mediterranean Style awnings and blinds make growing of a wide assortment of flowering plants, herbs, fruit and vegetables very possible, indeed easy if you read and take on board the practical advice given. 

Lastly dust the sunhat off and wear it when working and wandering around the garden after 10am until sundown. Do most of the essential summer garden work between 6am and 10am plus watering in the evening as the sun goes down. An afternoon siesta will enable you to catch up on sleep and restore energy levels for evening social life.

So be prepared to enjoy the Spanish summer. Correctly planned it can be enjoyed without escaping to the unpredictable weather of northern and central Europe.

© Dick Handscombe – www.gardenspain.com

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