Re: Planning edible/ornamental garden in N Spain
- 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):
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 email@example.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.
> 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
> 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
> perennial or self-seeding annual herbs, shrubs and vines, which
> these criteria.
> My partner has put in a specific request for a vine with showy
> 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)
> Mint (2 vars)
> Kiwi (m+f)
> Your suggestions are much appreciated!
> PS. To see some photos of the cabin and the land, visit
- 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
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
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
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
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.
"Look beyond complexion and see community.."
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