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Planning edible/ornamental garden in N Spain

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  • Robert Alcock
    Hi group, I need your advice. I m planning the edible/ornamental garden around our cabin. We are in Northern Spain, with a maritime climate that s pretty
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 7, 2009
      Hi group,

      I need your advice. I'm planning the edible/ornamental garden around
      our cabin. We are in Northern Spain, with a maritime climate that's
      pretty similar to southern Britain but about 3 degrees warmer. Things
      that grow well there will probably grow better here. The area where
      the garden is gets full sun for most of the day. The soil is heavy
      clay, but I'll try to make sure the garden has plenty of organic matter.

      I want plants that will take and stay there without having to be
      planted again every year. I want the garden to produce a significant
      quantity of tasty food for us with minimum effort (weeding and
      harvesting, basically). I'd also like it to be ornamental, with some
      attractively coloured plants and flowers in there. So I'm looking for
      perennial or self-seeding annual herbs, shrubs and vines, which fulfil
      these criteria.

      My partner has put in a specific request for a vine with showy flowers
      like bougainvillea, but I'd like it to be one that's also edible!

      Because I'm not a very experienced gardener, I don't get much from
      just reading a seed catalogue - even specialised ones like ART. I'd
      like to ask members of the group to recommend some plants that they
      grow and would suggest for use in a garden like this. Also, some
      places to obtain the plants (in the EU, preferably).

      Here's a partial list of what we've already got growing there:

      Grape trained on pergola (2 vars)
      Goji
      Nasturtium
      Marigold
      Rosemary
      Thyme
      Stevia
      Parsley
      Coriander
      Mint (2 vars)
      Kiwi (m+f)

      Your suggestions are much appreciated!

      Robert

      PS. To see some photos of the cabin and the land, visit
      www.abrazohouse.org/gallery2
    • Jim
      Hi Robert etc. I m a fan of squashes and pumpkins. I think they look good, produce fantastic food also and are quite easy to grow outside in southern UK so
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 7, 2009
        Hi Robert etc.

        I'm a fan of squashes and pumpkins. I think they look good, produce
        fantastic food also and are quite easy to grow outside in southern UK
        so should be even better where you are. They like a good soil, try
        and keep green growth contained somewhat if you want fruits. You can
        grow them up framworks, if you have just one variety that is true
        breeding you can save the seed...don't bother saving seed from cross
        fertilised fruits, it usually turns out to be worthless. Try local
        supplier or the Organic Gardening Catalogue has plenty of varieties:

        http://www.organiccatalog.com/catalog/

        Cucumbers are good also. I grow in a cold greenhouse, but with the
        warmer summers there outdoor varieties will do well I should think.

        In terms of pereninal fruiting climbers, thats something I'm just
        getting into myself. Perhaps Passiflora?

        Thornless loganberry is very very lush and can be grown on a bramble
        frame:

        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pfaf/photos/album/1174064837/pic/1948036
        936/view?picmode=&mode=tn&order=ordinal&start=1&count=20&dir=asc

        (That bramble is Tayberry I think)

        Thanks,

        Jim.



        --- In pfaf@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Alcock" <ralcock@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hi group,
        >
        > I need your advice. I'm planning the edible/ornamental garden around
        > our cabin. We are in Northern Spain, with a maritime climate that's
        > pretty similar to southern Britain but about 3 degrees warmer.
        Things
        > that grow well there will probably grow better here. The area where
        > the garden is gets full sun for most of the day. The soil is heavy
        > clay, but I'll try to make sure the garden has plenty of organic
        matter.
        >
        > I want plants that will take and stay there without having to be
        > planted again every year. I want the garden to produce a significant
        > quantity of tasty food for us with minimum effort (weeding and
        > harvesting, basically). I'd also like it to be ornamental, with some
        > attractively coloured plants and flowers in there. So I'm looking
        for
        > perennial or self-seeding annual herbs, shrubs and vines, which
        fulfil
        > these criteria.
        >
        > My partner has put in a specific request for a vine with showy
        flowers
        > like bougainvillea, but I'd like it to be one that's also edible!
        >
        > Because I'm not a very experienced gardener, I don't get much from
        > just reading a seed catalogue - even specialised ones like ART. I'd
        > like to ask members of the group to recommend some plants that they
        > grow and would suggest for use in a garden like this. Also, some
        > places to obtain the plants (in the EU, preferably).
        >
        > Here's a partial list of what we've already got growing there:
        >
        > Grape trained on pergola (2 vars)
        > Goji
        > Nasturtium
        > Marigold
        > Rosemary
        > Thyme
        > Stevia
        > Parsley
        > Coriander
        > Mint (2 vars)
        > Kiwi (m+f)
        >
        > Your suggestions are much appreciated!
        >
        > Robert
        >
        > PS. To see some photos of the cabin and the land, visit
        > www.abrazohouse.org/gallery2
        >
      • Jim
        ...also courgettes: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pfaf/photos/album/1174064837/pic/1596540 75/view?picmode=&mode=tn&order=ordinal&start=1&count=20&dir=asc
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 7, 2009
          ...also courgettes:

          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pfaf/photos/album/1174064837/pic/1596540
          75/view?picmode=&mode=tn&order=ordinal&start=1&count=20&dir=asc

          ..that is a round variety.


          --- In pfaf@yahoogroups.com, "Jim" <cromlech108@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hi Robert etc.
          >
          > I'm a fan of squashes and pumpkins. I think they look good, produce
          > fantastic food also and are quite easy to grow outside in southern
          UK
          > so should be even better where you are. They like a good soil, try
          > and keep green growth contained somewhat if you want fruits. You
          can
          > grow them up framworks, if you have just one variety that is true
          > breeding you can save the seed...don't bother saving seed from
          cross
          > fertilised fruits, it usually turns out to be worthless. Try local
          > supplier or the Organic Gardening Catalogue has plenty of varieties:
          >
          > http://www.organiccatalog.com/catalog/
          >
          > Cucumbers are good also. I grow in a cold greenhouse, but with the
          > warmer summers there outdoor varieties will do well I should think.
          >
          > In terms of pereninal fruiting climbers, thats something I'm just
          > getting into myself. Perhaps Passiflora?
          >
          > Thornless loganberry is very very lush and can be grown on a
          bramble
          > frame:
          >
          >
          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pfaf/photos/album/1174064837/pic/1948036
          > 936/view?picmode=&mode=tn&order=ordinal&start=1&count=20&dir=asc
          >
          > (That bramble is Tayberry I think)
          >
          > Thanks,
          >
          > Jim.
          >
          >
          >
          > --- In pfaf@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Alcock" <ralcock@> wrote:
          > >
          > > Hi group,
          > >
          > > I need your advice. I'm planning the edible/ornamental garden
          around
          > > our cabin. We are in Northern Spain, with a maritime climate
          that's
          > > pretty similar to southern Britain but about 3 degrees warmer.
          > Things
          > > that grow well there will probably grow better here. The area
          where
          > > the garden is gets full sun for most of the day. The soil is heavy
          > > clay, but I'll try to make sure the garden has plenty of organic
          > matter.
          > >
          > > I want plants that will take and stay there without having to be
          > > planted again every year. I want the garden to produce a
          significant
          > > quantity of tasty food for us with minimum effort (weeding and
          > > harvesting, basically). I'd also like it to be ornamental, with
          some
          > > attractively coloured plants and flowers in there. So I'm looking
          > for
          > > perennial or self-seeding annual herbs, shrubs and vines, which
          > fulfil
          > > these criteria.
          > >
          > > My partner has put in a specific request for a vine with showy
          > flowers
          > > like bougainvillea, but I'd like it to be one that's also edible!
          > >
          > > Because I'm not a very experienced gardener, I don't get much from
          > > just reading a seed catalogue - even specialised ones like ART.
          I'd
          > > like to ask members of the group to recommend some plants that
          they
          > > grow and would suggest for use in a garden like this. Also, some
          > > places to obtain the plants (in the EU, preferably).
          > >
          > > Here's a partial list of what we've already got growing there:
          > >
          > > Grape trained on pergola (2 vars)
          > > Goji
          > > Nasturtium
          > > Marigold
          > > Rosemary
          > > Thyme
          > > Stevia
          > > Parsley
          > > Coriander
          > > Mint (2 vars)
          > > Kiwi (m+f)
          > >
          > > Your suggestions are much appreciated!
          > >
          > > Robert
          > >
          > > PS. To see some photos of the cabin and the land, visit
          > > www.abrazohouse.org/gallery2
          > >
          >
        • Jim
          A herb area is definitely a good idea - I d make it a circle or sprial maybe...you can keep adding different plants to it, carefully weeding to ensure
          Message 4 of 5 , Jan 7, 2009
            A herb area is definitely a good idea - I'd make it a circle or
            sprial maybe...you can keep adding different plants to it, carefully
            weeding to ensure balance...fantastic in summer and then you can have
            fresh herbs for various uses including green leaves ro eat fresh or
            in cooked meals, and then dry load for winter use. Growing
            traditional meadow is good also, and will reward you with a seething
            mass of life effect. Start making a tree nursery of 'edibles' and
            take cuttings where possible for your own use and sharing. Make sure
            you map everything, including noting down on the map which are the
            original plants because you can take cuttings from many fruit bushes
            etc, and you want to take cuttings only from the original plants
            because they tend to degrade in vitality as you move further from the
            original plant...yes so fruit bushes are good I think, blackcurrents
            and the other currents, gooseberries, woosterberries, jostaberries,
            (these take cuttings reasonable well) plus the more unusual stuff and
            whatever they do locally to you. I'm trialing various species and
            cultivars of unusual fruit bushes and climbers currently in both Kent
            and Anglesey, UK... too early to declare results...mostly sourced
            from the Agroforestry Research Trust (ART):

            http://www.agroforestry.co.uk/

            I have found quite a lot of unusual stuff failed even when carefully
            tended in pots in the cold greenhouse for no apparent reason. 'Ben
            Hope' appears to the most vital blackcurrent...you might do better in
            your warmer climate. You're already growing grapes, these take
            cuttings well by the way. I start off most cuttings in the
            greenhouse, maybe in plastic bags..they need watching.



            --- In pfaf@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Alcock" <ralcock@...> wrote:
            >
            > Hi group,
            >
            > I need your advice. I'm planning the edible/ornamental garden around
            > our cabin. We are in Northern Spain, with a maritime climate that's
            > pretty similar to southern Britain but about 3 degrees warmer.
            Things
            > that grow well there will probably grow better here. The area where
            > the garden is gets full sun for most of the day. The soil is heavy
            > clay, but I'll try to make sure the garden has plenty of organic
            matter.
            >
            > I want plants that will take and stay there without having to be
            > planted again every year. I want the garden to produce a significant
            > quantity of tasty food for us with minimum effort (weeding and
            > harvesting, basically). I'd also like it to be ornamental, with some
            > attractively coloured plants and flowers in there. So I'm looking
            for
            > perennial or self-seeding annual herbs, shrubs and vines, which
            fulfil
            > these criteria.
            >
            > My partner has put in a specific request for a vine with showy
            flowers
            > like bougainvillea, but I'd like it to be one that's also edible!
            >
            > Because I'm not a very experienced gardener, I don't get much from
            > just reading a seed catalogue - even specialised ones like ART. I'd
            > like to ask members of the group to recommend some plants that they
            > grow and would suggest for use in a garden like this. Also, some
            > places to obtain the plants (in the EU, preferably).
            >
            > Here's a partial list of what we've already got growing there:
            >
            > Grape trained on pergola (2 vars)
            > Goji
            > Nasturtium
            > Marigold
            > Rosemary
            > Thyme
            > Stevia
            > Parsley
            > Coriander
            > Mint (2 vars)
            > Kiwi (m+f)
            >
            > Your suggestions are much appreciated!
            >
            > Robert
            >
            > PS. To see some photos of the cabin and the land, visit
            > www.abrazohouse.org/gallery2
            >
          • Steve
            Hi Robert, I guess my first suggestion (mostly because I see it s not on your list) is Basil - Ocimum spp. Unless you ve got a personal reason not to have it,
            Message 5 of 5 , Jan 8, 2009
              Hi Robert,

              I guess my first suggestion (mostly because I see it's not on your list) is
              Basil - Ocimum spp. Unless you've got a personal reason not to have it,
              Basil is an amazing addition. Food, tea and medicine can be made from it,
              and it self seeds easily (my garden weeds now include culinary and medicinal
              basil).

              Do you grow comfrey (Symphytum officinalis)? It's a good medicinal herb -
              for humans as well as poultry and other livestock - and is a major
              constituent in biodynamic compost teas. It's a very useful herb to have
              around.

              As for your vine with showy flowers that is also edible, an obvious one for
              me is the passion fruit vine (Passiflora edulis). There are a few
              varieties; some are small and fit in the palm of your hand, and others are
              large (don't need much else for breakfast).
              Another vine is Kiwi (Actinida spp) - this is an option if you are prepared
              to provide a strong, substantial trellis, as kiwi will get pretty big. Of
              course you could cut it back, but I think it does best climbing a tree or a
              pergola. If you gave it a pergola, you would be able to stroll underneath
              it to harvest. Don't plant this one too close to your house; you might lose
              your house under it.

              I know choosing species is a somewhat agonising process, but you have to
              somehow match up your climate with the growth requirements of plants - don't
              be afraid to stretch your luck, though.
              Many plants have warm and cold adapted varieties (kiwi is an example), while
              some will not survive a frost. Others lose the above-ground portion in a
              freeze, but come back in the spring (comfrey can do this; also bulbs and
              tubers).
              Look around your local area. Try just identifying plants and trees which do
              well where you are.
              See if there are any local organic gardening groups or seed-banks.
              Farmer's markets can be a good place to start (especially because you need
              to buy food, anyway). Most folks are pretty happy to talk about the produce
              they grow.
              I made a lot of good contacts via a farmers market we went to for a while.
              I even ended up helping out with the fall harvest on one farm. When you
              take the initiative to offer your assistance, you'd be surprised how
              generous people can be with advice, or maybe seeds or help of their own. I
              still grow their heirloom purple tomatillos.

              Anyhow, I've got to go - dishes still need doing.

              Peace,

              Steve.


              --
              "Look beyond complexion and see community.."
              Maya Angelou


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