Quote of the Month

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.

~Mirabel Osler

Friday, 30 November 2012

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas....

Our Garden Club Christmas Lunch will be on
 Tuesday, 11th December at 1pm at El Pilon Restaurant, Competa.  
The cost per person will be €15  for a three course table d'hote  to include 1/2 bottle wine.  
There will be a choice of three primeros and three postres and the following segundos;

a)  Pollo al Chilidron   -  chicken stew with peppers, garlic and white wine.

b)  Pez Espada  -  BBQ swordfish with an anchovy and green olive tapenade

c)  Burrito vegetal   -  vegetable burrito with guacamole and rice

Please advise Cindy at cindyjones19 @ hotmail.com if you are joining us 

before Thursday 06 December and at the same time indicate your choice of main course.  You are welcome to invite a family member or friend to join us.   
Thank you

Fruit Trees and Xmas Trees

Our bare-root trees have arrived!

We have apricot, cherry, plums, persimmon, apple (Granny Smith and Starking), quince, pomegranate, peach, donut peach, nectarine, almond and walnut. Also the decorative purple plum, prunus pissardi.
All at €6.50 each - a bargain and perfect planting time.

We now have Christmas trees in stock. 

One size only, 1.5m - 1.75m, rootballed, price €17.50

And we've a delightful range of poinsettias - with a difference - cyclamen, etc. Some are potted to make a lovely gift.

Come and drool over our oranges and pink grapefruits - with fruit - at €35 each.

Lorraine Cavanagh, Viveros Florena, Competa, Malaga, Spain.
 Winter hrs: 10 - 4.
Closed Sundays and Mondays.
Tel:         00 34 689928201
Email:       florenaspain@hotmail.com

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Jigsaw - just to pass the time when it's raining

Picture of an  Aechmea Bromeliad


Use your mouse to complete the jigsaw....soothing 

Lunar Calendars

 I'm about to send for a Lunar Calendar for 2013 (as discussed during the recent presentation by Andrew Sloan)
It costs 7.95 GBP plus postage
Does anyone else want one - if so, we can economise on the postage.

janekirkspain @ gmail.com

Monday, 26 November 2012

Visit to Montes Negros Organic Farm

On Saturday 24th November some members of the Garden Club plus other friends visited Montes Negros Organic Farm near Canillas de Aceituno. 

We all met in the car park of Bar Cruce at El Trapiche prior to the 15 minute drive up the mountains to the 7 acre farm. 

On arrival we were greeted by a huge Scooby dog and several cats. 
The farmhouse was rather rundown but our host, Rachel, was very welcoming and friendly and soon took us down to see the well constructed chicken run and hen house made from recycled pallets. Only one, very healthy, chicken made an appearance; the two others had already put themselves to bed. 
Beyond the chicken coup was another small, furrowed, bed from which potatoes had been recently harvested. 
The land was very stony and unpromising for growing vegetables but hard work has gone into creating a small vegetable bed showing spinach and other produce.
From there we started the walk on steeply sloping ground passing a cement capped well and then on to part of the neighbour's land where there was an impressive primitive 1.5 m round well built entirely of mud and stones and standing some 3m from the ground. 

The braver of the group leaned over the parapet and peered down into the well which was probably dug by hand many years ago. 
From there we got down to the fast flowing river and, those who wore wellingtons, waded upstream. 
We were all delighted to see a wild turtle and, after picking it up to show to the snapping cameras, we then watched it swim and float downstream glad to be away from us.
The return to the farm passed slopes where olives were once planted but the previous owner had ripped them out and replaced them with grapes; none of which had survived leaving a rather barren landscape except for the masses of wild lavender. 

Our walk nearly at an end we passed what could have been taken for an alpine meadow full of almond trees, the ground beneath covered with green clover which is "mown" and fertilized by 4 horses owned by a neighbour.
Then we all enjoyed tea, coffee, and homemade cakes and bread as well as chutneys, jams and relishes on the terrace from where we had hoped to watch the sunset - sadly hidden by cloud that day.   (Carol S.)

A second account of the visit is reproduced after the following photos. Ed
Inge & the Turtle

Follow Me !!

River Walkers
Empty Bed !

Alternative Version received by the Editor.....


A Walk on the Wild Side.....
Well, it must be said that the description provided in the Advertisement for the Organic Farm Visit was an example of Aspirational rather than Factual....
Many AGC members were rather bemused at the entire thing. 

However, there's nothing like a little Adversity to bring out the best in people! 
The old Adage of Keep Calm and Carry On  was well and truly to the forefront as the group set off to stagger up the steep slope and then - (rather like King George's Men) stagger down another steep slope.

One member said he thought they should all have been roped together and he lamented that he had not thought to bring his spiked shoes and pitons.
The answer to the question "Was your Journey Really Necessary?" was a resounding "No!"
Most members had seen 2 or 3 olive trees and a lemon tree before. 

A few had seen locations that had previously been home to vines etc. that had subsequently be grubbed out......
Several had also, in the past,  paused to regard an empty vegetable patch.....
A slight frizzon of excitement was engendered by the appearance of the Single Chicken.

The unexpected appearance of the little wild turtle proved the hit of the afternoon!
Some members returned to their long ago childhoods with a satisfying (if ankle-turning) trip along the river itself....complete with squeals.....
Returning to the Homestead ( that so much Potential.......) we did enjoy a jolly repast.

Driving homewards, we reflected that we had thoroughly enjoyed the company of fellow members (as always) and that, at least we would be in time for Strictly Come Dancing...........

Ready! Steady! GO!

Such Potential

Restorative Victuals

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Having Problems accessing the Webpage for our Blog?

There seems to be a few people who are experiencing problems - either with accessing the Website or in NOT receiving the Emails that I create regularly sending the new Posts and photos etc.

  • Accessing the Website:   Simple <Click> here and go to  www.axarquiagardenclub.blogspot.com   Whilst you are there "Bookmark" the page and then every time you want to visit it - you can either go to your list of Bookmark and <Click> on it OR go to the Search Box at the top of your screen. When you start to type in "axarquiag"   our Website address should pop up and you can give it the old <Click>
  •  Not receiving these regular updates in your email In Box ? First step is to look in your Trash box to see if Google, or whomever, has decided you're too young to receive such communications and blocked anything coming from the Axarquia Garden Club.  Open one of the "banned" emails and the system will ask if you are sure you know what you're doing... before letting you Un-ban me!

  • If none of the above works - email me editor.agc@gmail.com
Anyone who knows a member who is experiencing troubles (ONLY about the Blog!!) tell that person to email me at the address above.

Axarquia: True vintage

 The Axarquia has a long and rich history of wine making
 By Jon Clarke  (published in The Olive Press online)

THE Axarquia was producing top quality wines way before Rioja and Ribero del Duero got into the mix.
Indeed, in 1933 the region became the first in Spain to have its own DO – or denominacion de origin.
But the area can also claim to have one of the longest traditions of wine making in Spain, with vines first being planted by the Phoenicians up to 3,000 years ago.
They were later heralded by the Roman poet Columbella, and back in 1502 the Catholic Monarchs were so keen on the fabulous sweet wines that they took the first known measure to protect the regional wine from imported products.
A century later Malaga wine producers formed a guild, the forerunner of today’s ‘consejos reguladores’ (control boards).
It came about just as the wines started to become fashionable abroad, particularly in the UK from the 17th century.
At the time, there were said to be around 14,000 wine presses in Malaga and – along with Jerez – many British merchants moved to the area.
Evidence of their success can still be found, for example, at Venta Galway, high in the Montes de Malaga hills, named after an Irish merchant who settled there then.
But, as was the case in many European regions, the industry was destroyed by the phylloxera bug that arrived in the late 19th century. It wiped out the vast majority of vineyards and the amount of land under vine dropped from 100,000 hectares at its peak to just 6,000 hectares today; many for raisins or eating grapes.
So the crucial work being undertaken by a number of companies today to make the sweet wines fashionable again is vital as a dynamo for the region.

RHS Photo Winner taken in Spain !

BRITAIN’S Royal Horticultural Society has announced that an image, taken in Spain as the winner of its annual Photographic Competition.
The picture of an olive tree surrounded by tulips was taken by Josie Elias, who scoops up the €1,200 prize money and title of ‘Photographer of the Year’.
“We stumbled on the Iris Garden at Plantas Distintas in Marnes, near Alicante. I was particularly intrigued by the contrast of the gnarled old olive tree and colourful spring flowers,” said Elias.
Competition organiser James Arnold said: “We have had a record number of entries this year, doubling figures from last year.
The judges have been astounded by the extraordinary quality of the images which people have produced from all over the world, it’s simply breathtaking and it was very difficult to choose a winner.” 

(See the picture The Olive Press or Ask Google ! )

Danger to the Fig Industry in Spain

SPANISH farmers are warning that the fig industry could collapse after environment ministers refused to approve the use of a chemical which aids production.
Hydrogen cinnamide is used to protect the crop from adverse weather and is already widely employed in Portugal.
But the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment has blocked its use in Spain, providing only ‘evasive answers’ by way of explanation.
“What we need are politicians able to provide solutions to the problems people are facing,” said Alicante farmers’ union leader Eladio Aniorte.
“There is no other substitute to hydrogen cinnamide and it is vital to get proper development of the fig tree.”

Garden La Palma - helpful advice

Taken from The Olive Press Online -  Garden La Palma

FOR all you fair weather gardeners I suppose you can sit at home and watch it continue to rain and complain that the weeds are growing.
As a commercial grower we have more than just a problem with weeds.
Here in Velez-Malaga we have had 230mm of rain since the weather broke on September 27 and we are now struggling to get new crops planted and the present crops harvested.
Our customers in the UK expect a continuous supply of perfect product from early October until the end of June.
Failure to supply is a severe loss of brownie points.
In the following months articles I will give you an insight into life as a UK supermarket supplier!
My advice for you veggie growers is to be patient until the weather improves and then get stuck in.
At this time of year you can say that nearly all the types of vegetables and some soft fruit can be planted.
Look around and learn from the local growers and get a feel for the do’s and do nots.
For instance DO NOT IGNORE FUNGICIDES as the present wet weather will cause severe plant losses with mildew and botrytis.

As we move indoors and leave the barbies and al fresco dining behind, protect your terrace furniture with weatherproof covers; a selection of which can be found at Garden La Palma.
As this paper goes to print our star plant of the month will begin to show its colours.

The poinsetia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) with its strongly coloured leaves adorns many places from roundabouts to hotel receptions and local bars.
As producers of poinsetia we make plants available in all their different guises.

Christmas is just around the corner so order your Christmas tree now.
We will be taking delivery of trees at the beginning of December and we should have a selection to suit all tastes.
At home we prefer the species that do not drop their needles and tend to be more bushy.

Lastly on a more lighter note;if at any time any one would like to see behind the scenes and experience some of our commercial operation ask for me in the Garden centre and a visit can be arranged.
Until next month just keep pressing your olives.

(Maybe our President can arrange for the Club Members to see Behind the Scenes..? )

Thursday, 15 November 2012

AGC November 2012 Meeting - photo album

Cindy - probably demanding money with menaces (subscriptions due now!)

                                                  Andrew Sloan - our guest speaker

Views of the new planting 
of drought tolerant plants

Note the wide spacing between the planets - 
allowing them to achieve their natural size 
without the need to transplant

                                                    The use of rocks & stones            
                                                    enhances to natural beauty 
                                                     of the growing plants

Aloes come in all colours, shapes and sizes,
from trees to this delicate, slender beauty

                                        Andrew became an expert
                                        propagator of seeds by following
                                         the well worn path of Trial & Error!

A full report of the fascinating presentation is to be found below.........

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

AGC November Presentaton : A Report

Tuesday November 13th
Presentation on Aloes, Agaves, Succulents and other drought tolerant plants 

by Andrew Sloan

This was one of the most articulate presentations I’ve heard in many a year. The fluency of the descriptions was reinforced by the lovely photos that were displayed on the white screen in timely fashion by Andrew’s lovely wife, Margarita.

Andrew &  Margarita have lived amongst 2 acres in Alhaurin El Grande for 15 years and their garden had developed like most of our gardens – bit  of this here; couple of those there; some of those a friend brought round over there and all these here that we “liberated” from friends’ gardens….. The contents of one’s garden can often tell the story of our time here in Spain.

They followed that excellent advice to install the irrigation before planting the gardens, thus ensuring minimum disruption to young plants.
The growing realisation that they needed to husband their water supply for the sake of the purse and the state of the planet, meant that they decided to remove thirsty plants and redesign their gardens so that they held drought resistant plants.
Andrew conceived a passion for Aloes and has rapidly become an expert – through his reading, Internet research, travels and conversations with people all over the world. 

He freely admits that he learned more from his mistakes than from his research (like all of us).
He is active on Facebook where there are different groups for various types of plants, all called Planet.... He especially likes Planet Aloe & Planet Agave where he interacts with and receives advice from other members especially from California and South Africa.

(He also emphasised how useful the MGS forum on the internet has been for him. 
The MGS is much more than a very interesting journal every 3 months  Mediterranean Garden Society) 
Andrew's  photos told the graphic story of the replanting.

A trip to the gardens of Israel proved most informative as did visits closer to home – the Cacti Gardens in Casarabonela (which AGC members visited earlier this year) and Parque La Paloma in Benalmadena.
La Paloma hosts a 2-3 day Fair each July when one can buy specimens from as little a €2.50. 

(I see an AGC “Jolly” coming up….)

We were given many a handy tip on propagating and nurturing the plants – such as:-
•    To create a “water basin” around and under each new plant so that one could pour in 20 litres of water that would slowly seep down into the earth – making a moist path for the roots.
•    To use a sterilised medium into which to plant the seeds. He would microwave or cook the growing medium in the oven for 50 mins at 325 degrees F.
•    Seeds are inexpensive and available on line from www.koehres-kaktus.com
      & www.made-in-afrika/com )
•    Whatever one does, the importance of ensuring that the soil is well drained (add river sand) and that one knows which areas are alkaline and which are acid.
•    Aloes don’t like to be in large pots – 6” (15cm) is the maximum for young plants
•    Recommended is a book called The Dry Gardening Handbook (which can be found in the AGC Library! ) 

Whilst awaiting your turn to read it – visit the author’s website www.jardin-sec.com
•    One of the really valuable elements of the book cited above is the Drought Resistance Code Number attached to the description of each plant. Andrew aims for those with the designation from 4 to 6 – this is roughly equivalent to the number of months the plant can survive without water.

We then diversified

Learning about the 114 Olive trees on their land. 
The enjoyment they get when friends come round to help with the harvest and go away with a litre of the golden elixir of life!
All of Andrew's olives are hand harvested and his trees are not battered like so many are around the Cómpeta region.
Andrew emphasised the importance of bi-annual pruning so that (in the Spanish way) a bird can always fly through the branches in any direction…
One can judge the age of an olive tree by its girth. If a man can just  put both arms around the trunk – it is probably a hundred years old.
Many of Andrew’s trees required four people to cuddle them!

Some of the precious plants in their garden were attacked and eaten by the wild rabbits. 

They were advised to collect human hair (preferable that which the hairdresser had cut off and saved for the purpose.)
Andrew obtained some old tights from Margarita and stuffed in the hair. 

“Sausages” of these were placed around those particularly precious plants and the depredation halted!
The Members where then treated to a refinement on this strategy when we explained that wild boars can be kept off one's property (even the vegetable garden) by a man urinating on the aforementioned bags of hair! ................ It works even without the aid of the hair bags.
(Indeed, so efficient is the production of Brian that this writer's garden has never endured a single porcine trespass!)

Andrew had introduced the concept of Lunar Planting and Gardening – first described by Rudolph Steiner and a system adopted by almost every older village gardener, presumably handed down through many generations.
The moon’s cycle of 28 days – waxing, full moon and then waning – affects the cycle of plants. Different stages of the moon exerting a force on a different part of the plant – some days are good for the growth of leaves; others for roots. Some days are beneficial to fruits, others to  flowers. 

 It is possible to buy the Lunar Calendar. Andrew had the Spanish version Lunario 2012 (www.lunario.es).
An AGC member, Gill, buys her English version (complete with wall chart )  off the Internet. http://www.lunarorganics.com/

We all agreed that Andrew should come back in five years time and bring a new set of photos showing the development of his gardens. 

(He originally thought ten years would really show the maturity of the landscape but we felt that 10 years was likely to outrun the “maturity” of some of the members…..)

The morning certainly proved fascinating and was marred only by Cindy demanding money for the annual subscription – albeit without menaces!

Membership Subscriptions due now. €10 each
Contact Cindy
cindyjones19 @ hotmail.com

Financial Report from our Treasurer

Financial Update

Brought  Forward                          --------                             534.76

Beth Chatto Library Book                                    21.00

Andrew Sloan expenses: dinner & petrol           50.00

Raffle                                         13.00
Plant Money                              12.00
Subscriptions                           250.00

Carried Forward                                                                 €738.76

 Although the club funds look "high" at the moment, I have yet to pay out for the recently purchased club microphone.

Viveros Florena Offer

From 13th to 17th November inclusive 20% reduction on all ornamental trees.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

AGC Members Visiting Montes Negros. Programme

 Montes Negros, near Canillas de Aceituno on Saturday 24th November at 4p.m, meeting point El Bar Cruce, Trapiche.
 The visit starts with a 50 minute walk ( of medium difficulty )around the organic farm and the river followed by tea and cake on the terrace whilst watching the sunset. 

We advise you wear closed, comfortable walking shoes and a stick is useful in a few areas.

The menu, based on seasonal produce, will be Marmalade Cake, Almond and Orange Cake, Scones and jam and fresh bread with cheese, pickles and chutneys, plus tea, coffee and infusions. 
Everything is made using our own home produced organic ingredients. 
The afternoon costs €5 per person.
 All of our products are available to buy directly as well. 

We also have a range of organic staples such as flour, pulse, rices etc.

To reserve your place, please tell Carol 
Rachel writes - send me an e-mail to mercadobiologicolavinuela@gmail.com  with your name, e-mail and mobile number
ring Rachel on 655 987 105

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Tour of Monte Negros Organic Farm

Carol has spoken to Rachael from  
The Monte Negros Organic Farm 
about our Club members taking the tour 
on Saturday, 24th Nov.  
(The 11th is fully booked)
 Obviously,  these tours are proving to be very popular !
Please let Carol know, as soon as possible, if you would like to go. 
Cost per person €5. 
The farm owner, Rachael, can take groups of a max. 15 people -  
so first come first served !