Spanish Gardening (Google / Round Town News)

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Spanish Gardening – Hints & Tips
Written by Clodagh & Dick Handscombe



e read recently in the UK press that the Scout movement has updated it’s range of achievement/skill badges by introducing new ones related to 21st century skills such as karting, quadbiking, parascending and thankfully one related to healthy eating and what we assume is still the motto of the scout movement ‘Be Prepared’. However the listed essential tasks for the latter included making a fruit salad, two different sandwiches, making an omelette and homemade meat balls, listing some unhealthy foods but not – but may have been omitted in the article – experiencing the growing of some organically grown vegetables or fruit and then preparing a meal with them. And how easy their growing would be in a large container even for the Beaver Scouts living in apartments. Un fortunately today’s ethos is too often don’t get your hands dirty. When we suggested during a talk on growing vegetables to the Agronomist students at the Polytechnic University in Valencia that they grow some vegetables in containers on their apartment terraces for healthy eating during their four course  professors informed us that they were educating agronomists who would work in agricultural/food  laboratories or as quality control advisers and not training agriculturalists. Likewise many articles in the newspapers and magazines comment on the need to eat healthier fresh chemical free vegetables and fruit but fail to suggest that one grows ones own.

We only have an interest in gardening and growing our own fruit and vegetables in retirement because we were encouraged to do so from the tender age of five and in Dick’s case a little later the gaining of  scout’s gardening and cooking badges. For both of us working in school gardens was a normal activity at primary schools in hobby or lunch times. So may we suggest that all children and grandchildren on the Spanish costas are introduced to the thrills of growing ones own food and flowers. We know that this is starting to happen, that some schools have gardening clubs and that at least one community of apartment blocks is thinking of establishing a children’s garden in an rarely used lawn area away from the pool, and the community gardener was keen to help the youngsters get it going. The chairman of the community  was already doing so on his penthouse terrace. Incidentally we read a second article in the UK press that some UK developers are now capitalising on the growing interest in growing and eating ones own fruit and vegetables by offering for sale – as extras to the cost of an apartment or town house –  roof top garden areas and allotment areas at the cost of an inland smallholding in rural Spain! So wherever you live in Spain let this be the year where children enjoy competing with each other for the tallest sunflower, the most rice or potatoes grown in an old bath or disused toy box, the tastiest radish or strawberry or the largest courgette or pumpkin. The practical activity might also stimulate a greater understanding of what is being taught in the science classes. What better birthday present than a copy of Growing healthy vegetables in Spain with the numerous illustrations in Part Two of what can be grown in less than one square metre!

Clodagh and Dick Handscombe are practical gardeners with a combined 40 years of experience of gardening in Spain and authors of the trilogy of books ‘Your Garden in Spain’ ISBN978-84-89954-670, ‘Growing healthy fruit in Spain’ ISBN 978-84-89954-62-5 and ‘ Growing healthy vegetables in Spain’ ISBN978-84-89954-53-3. Full descriptions of the contents will be found on The books can be purchased via this site and from major bookshops and some mainland British product shops. Readers living in the UK for part of the year can now obtain the books from the Royal Horticultural Society Bookshop at Wisley by phone (0845-260-4505) or Internet. © Clodagh and Dick Handscombe December 2008

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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