Wednesday, 12 of August of 2020

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Japanese rice paper plant

For those of us still sulking over the Gunnera we had left behind in the UK, the Tetrapanax acerifolia, also called the Japanese Ricepaper Plant certainly would not disappoint. It adds its magnificent form to any design. Sure, it likes a lot of water but unlike Gunnera it can stand the severe heat (due to a fluffy substance on new leafs and stems of leafs and I imagine also the deep folds in the leave surface) and it is a bit more tolerant to drier conditions here in Mallorca. It still is slightly temperamental and prefers a quite specific sheltered position,

 


The Wildlife Pond

The Wildlife pond is a fun way to bring more wildlife into the organic garden and in terms of biodiversity organic gardener mallorca.comlive water is a must have. A pond may even be the very next best thing to living next to an actual fresh water lake or a river. Among other benefits, water calls birds from wide and far to enter into our gardens for a sip of sweet water or maybe to take a refreshing bath or simply to snack on some of the many insects as the flycatchers do.

Lizards will soon follow as abundance of insects come to drink water too and they will find suitable habitat among the rocks that surround the pond. Dragonflies should aventually lay their eggs in a floating layer of alga which over time partly covers the Surface of your pond. Here their larvae will mature. Dragonflies among other waterliving insects are carnivorous and feed on other insects, some of which are considered not to be beneficial. Keep in mind that some insects live only a part of there life cycle in water.

Native frogs could find your pond an ideal hideaway and adding some small native fish or gold fish or koy (If you have the volume and depth) will secure that your wildlife pond stays Mosquito free. Some species of wasps will not only drink water from your pond but also collect mud where the pond overflows to construct their nests with, as the giant black wasp do within the hollows of a bundle of giant Grey canes, cut and left out in bundles for such purpose.

The rustic croaking of the frogs in springtime makes a beautiful hypnotic chorus for you to unwind to.

Please let me highlight again why insects are so important:

All plants employ insects for tasks such as pollination. Bees, butterflies, beetles, wasps and moths are all pollinators and as we know pollination is vital for a good crop.

Parasitic and predatory wasps prey on the larvae of the pollinating insects and naturally control numbers, before they can do serious damage to your brassicas and other precious food crops.

The wildlife pond plays an important role in sustaining the biodiversity needed for your organic garden to flourish in the midst of a new harmonious equilibrium which would eliminate by one hundred percent the need for chemicals, which are damaging to the environment.

Want to do it yourself? In the following paragraphs I explain how in a few simple steps:

Very carefully, without damaging too many plant roots you simply dig a hole in the ground of the exact size and shape on the exact spot where you pond should be. Do not think too big as the sizes of pondliners available may vary, it may be best to check first…

Place your pond liner to cover the entire hole with the minimun folds you can manage.

Fill your wildlife pond with water and place some stones round the edges. The stones are placed round the edges to keep the pond liner in place and also function to hide the pond liner where it is not covered by wáter. The rest of the liner will soon gather dirt and green up with algae.

For best results you will need at least some filtered sunlight where you construct your pond.

If you use treated water to fill your pond, let your pond stand for a day or two for chemicals to evaporate.

Populate your pond with some aquatic plants and very importantly some fish, as without these as I have mentioned you may breed mosquitoes. The species of aquatic plants you choose will be determined by the degree of sunshine available.

Fill the pond up often and let it overflow at the lowest point where it’s almost always a nice idea to establish some water loving plants such as Peppermint, Skullcap, Papyrus Reeds, Miniature canes or Arum Lilies.

Make sure you find a comfortable seat nearby as watching your pond will become very entertaining.


Spectacular Dutch Iris

For those of us who love Dutch Iris, it is good to know that these pretty members of the Iris family flourish in Mallorca and they are suitable for a variety of positions in the garden. Although they love water as much as the majority of spring flowering bulbs, they will perform just as well in slightly drier conditions. The even better news is the fact that you would have to plant them only once as they will multiply and re-appear the following spring after overwintering safely if left undesturbed in the ground.

Dutch Irises are classified as summer bulbs. Their bulbs or seeds can be easily found over winter and towards early spring in garden centres and DIY stores, normally with instructions on how to plant.

The striking blues and yellows mix especially well and the hybrid flowers contain bright complementary colours within the same flower. Dwarf varieties and pastel colours are commonplace. In the picture above, matching Bougainvillea, ornamental grasses, Tulbachia (wild garlic) and perennial Salvia provide the background while Dichondra covers the ground.

Combine Dutch Iris with beard Irises and you could create a real life original Von Gogh.

The flower bed above has automatic micro irrigation on a timer switch, which I recommend at least for a small section of the garden although as metioned above Dutch Iris will thrive in full sun with as little as twice waterings per week.

This beautiful combination attracts bees and butterflies!


Rose caterpillars

 

In general these are called rose caterpillars. They make naturally nutritious snacks for garden birds and with their stools produce an equally nutritious byproduct to enrich the soil on ground level under your rosebushes

In general these are called rose caterpillars. They make naturally nutritious snacks for garden birds and with their stools produce an equally nutritious byproduct to enrich the soil on ground level under your rosebushes

In general these are called rose caterpillars. You need not worry about them. They make naturally nutritious snacks for garden birds and with their stools produce an equally nutritious byproduct which enrich the soil on ground level under your rosebushes.

The rose bushes I had picked them from provided a beautiful show of flowers at least twice last summer and some flowers in the autumn  and few during the winter as I do not prune them down fiercely  as is the custom for some gardeners. These sweet little caterpillars almost never eat into unopened buds or feed on the petals of flowers.

On the foliage though there has been considerable “damage” detected at least twice during the season here in Mallorca. In some cases leaves get eaten right down to their veins and as I mentioned converted into a rich manure by these loyal servants of mother nature as opposed to have to drop off to the ground uneaten in autumn colors.

One of the reasons an authentic organic garden need not depend on the addition of more animal manure.

Keep in mind that the masses of leaves you prune off during the autumn could be left for these caterpillars to feed on, if you would leave the pruning for a little later, which is if you want to help encourage the local bird population.

 

If left alone in peace these lovely creatures will do the same as silk worms and spin a small cocoon around them, hidden among the fallen leaves

If left alone in peace these lovely creatures will do the same as silk worms and spin a small cacoon around them, hidden among the fallen leaves

 

If left in peace these lovely creatures will do the same as silk worms and spin a small cocoon around themselves, hidden among the fallen leaves.

Having done no permanent damage to your lovely scented rose bush nor interfered with flower production, these lovely small multicolored caterpillars could be left to complete their valuable life cycle and fulfill their important role in the garden eco-system.

I am still waiting for the moths to appear. Do not try this at home. The caterpillars I saved had nowhere to go, they are quite vulnerable and are best kept on the live plant. Their diet is very specific. They only eat fresh leaves of rosebushes and do not make suitable pets as silkworms might.

I’ll keep you posted.

PS: Rose caterpilars will appear once only during the apreciating fase of when Specialized Organic maintenance sets forth. As for the update these small cacoons tragically never hatched.


Sunflowers

Despite his brilliance, let´s face it, van Gogh’s paintbrush did not do justice to Helianthus annuus, the common sunflower.

When their sweet scent reach your nostrils as you stare into an intricate depth of a spiraling mandala consisting of a web of hundreds of tiny florets you may understand why not unlike the great van Gogh, a huge variety of insects are also hopelessly mesmerized by its beauty and drunken by its tasty pollen display the same devotion as the sunflowers themselves do in turn dutifully turning to face the sun bowing their heads in unison.

Besides being simply beautiful, the many seeds they provide are rich in protein and a natural source of iron for human beings.


A Winter in Mallorca.

Some of my favourite reasons why a winter in Mallorca could be more colourful:

The first and in no particular order must be Euphorbia milii also known as Crown of Thorns.

Winter colour in Mallorca

Euphorbia milii also known as Crown of Thorns.

The one on my south facing balcony started to flower around December when I brought it indoors where I am keeping it quite dry! The beautiful orangy yellow flowers and sticky stems shedding after flowering are providing an interesting and warming addition to the indoor plant display. Must be kept in a sunny position indoors plus a little sheltered from winds outdoors.

The second is this three year young Acacia tree (see photo below) It has been making this lovely fluffy and beautiful soft yellow display throughout December and January and as you can see it is still going strong. It will provide pollen for bees during winter when it is certainly needed. Acasias are fast growing and must be propagated by seed.

This Acacia sp. is making a lovely fluffy and beautiful soft yellow display through December and January and still going strong. It will provide pollen for bees during winter when it is certainly needed.

This Acacia sp. is making a lovely fluffy and beautiful soft yellow display through December and January and still going strong. It will provide pollen for bees during winter when it is certainly needed.

 

Sweet Alyssum (not pictured) is another reason! This self-sowing annual bedding plant we all we gardeners know  and love, will form a dense flowery white carpet loved by insects such as bees. During a Winter in Mallorca it will perform as well as spring or summer if planted in an all-day or most of the day, sunny spot. Collectively Alyssum produce a pocket of sweet honey fragrance which is very pleasant to walk into during a morning stroll in the garden!

The fourth reason could be orange and yellow Calendulas which need no introduction. It loves the winter here and can keep going well into spring. Save the petals for your herb net to make the loveliest of soothing teas. Try to endure their dead flowers and yellowing leaves at the end of cycle in order for the seed ripen for harvest.

Reason number five featured here is the very prolific Kalanchoe daigremontiana which react well to tender loving care despite their unrestrainable ability to multiply, even threatening to some gardeners! The hundreds of plant lings falling from the mature leaves will take turns to mature and flower when and where colour is most needed.

the very prolific Kalanchoe daigremontiana which react well to tender loving care despite their unrestrainable vigorous ability to multiply, even threatening to some gardeners! The hundreds of plant lings will take turns to mature and flower when and where color is most needed.

The very prolific Kalanchoe daigremontiana react well to tender loving care despite their unrestrainable vability to multiply, even threatening to some gardeners! The hundreds of plant lings which fall from mature leaves, will take turns to mature and flower when and where color is most needed.

 

 

This perennial bulbous plant will not let the winter put stop to its flame hot display of colour, is the very commonly found striking bright orange Watsonia of Mallorca.

This perennial bulbous plant will not let the winter put a stop to its flame hot display of colour, it is the very striking bright orange Chasmanthe floribunda.

 

 

The sixth reason is this beautiful perennial bulbous plant not letting the winter put stop to its flaming hot display of colour. The striking bright spikes of orange is by Chasmanthe floribunda also known as the African corn-flag. Some of its bright uplifting tubular flowers are out now in full Bloom at the worst of the Mediterranean winter. Take note that Chasmanthe will savour the rest of its stems for spring when esthetically there will exist no better flowering companion for Zantedeschia aethiopica or giant white arum lily, also from South-Africa.

There are many more jems which will assure colour in the garden over a winter in Mallorca. Soon we shall discuss a few more such as the many varieties of Lantana.

Thanks for Reading.

 

 

Not a very typical collection on a small balcony in Palma de Mallorca. This photo was taken in mid-Winter.

Not a very typical collection on a small balcony in Palma de Mallorca. This photo was taken in mid-Winter.


The Martyr Group Effect in Plants

I observed this phenomenon which I call simply ‘the group effect’ for the first time many years ago with a single row of Cherry Tomatoes I was gowing on organically. The plans were isolated in a courtyard with a mixture of other mostly ornamental flowering plants in pots.

One of the about eight plants, which I call the martyr plant, took all the so called attacks of various insects including aphids, rust and some whitefly on various occasions while the other 7 plants in the isolated group basically remained clear of any.

The common mistake all gardeners make is to remove and replace the martyr plant which will result in another plant in the group serving as martyr or the group may even be totally affected in such cases, maybe due to the absence of the martyr plant or confusion as to which member could be next in line or should be nominated to be the next martyr plant.

In other cases, the responsibility may even be shared among more than one plant. One may be infected by let’s say whitefly and another by rust, but the same organic gardening principle can be observed.

In isolated groups of evergreen trees and shrubs of the same species I have observed similar behavior. Even among large conifers of the same species, I am convinced one may have to die back partially even without specific cause to provide an abundant aspect of dry wood which will play host to more insect life including wood boring insects such as let’s say the Red Palm Weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineu).

The martyr plant or tree has to be left intact to complete its role.

To remove the martyr plant due to the aspect of dead material which modern gardeners frown at, another tree may have to die to take its place and if the delicate balance of the whole group is disturbed, maybe more than one.

If the martyr plant is removed the rest of the group flourishes due to higher immune system and as a result of information provided by the martyr tree to the group. In forest conditions I suppose it may be another question, survival of the fittest perhaps?

Another  aspect of dry materials in design:

We may all love some perfect all green Hollywood style gardens and I like some too, but i have fallen in love with the natural aspect of dead material of the season before  and I try to appreciate the rustic esthetical value as well as a resource not only to start a fire but to provide natural habitat.

Leave plants to complete their lifecycle up to the end of selfseeding or then at least  apply dead material elsewhere to the mulch layer.

Dead material feed the soils micro biology which in turn provides the natural fertilizer plants need to flourish.

Giving someting back to the land.

 

 


Hello

Welcome to my blog. The blog is for your entertainment and also to showcase a little of my work as I have been without camera for a long while before now, soaking in the beauty of Mallorca as only two human eyes can! I can not speculate on the regularity of blogpost or the nature of the material that may surface.

The service we provide is described in this website.

Thanks for reading and please leave a positive comment!

Warm Regards,

Johan