Saturday 24 November 2012

September 2012

After a hectic two months in the UK sorting out house and garden and visiting family, since whilst in Crete in mid summer I had become a "Papous" (Grandad!) to a delightful pair of identical twin girls, the quiet calm of a Cretan village was most welcome. As I said in my previous post I had left stop-gap methods in place to try to minimise plant loss due to the heat and lack of rain over the hot summer months.

Terrace on return - chillies on left
Mini toms and aubergine

The photos illustrate the result of this neglect.

The terrace really did look quite devastated since some builders had used the terrace, in our absence, as a staging post and builders yard in order to access the house next door to fix new windows and in doing so had decided to push all the plant pots together totally destroying my finely balanced drip feed watering system!

Red hot chilli pepper
The main casualty was the chilli peppers which had slowly succumbed to the drought. However as a little internet research and a tasting of one of the chills confirmed this had proved no bad thing. It seems that starving the chilli plants of water for the last stages of ripening intensifies the flavour! The tasting, which had to be followed by several spoons of yoghurt, certainly bore this out!! The aubergine plants and mini red peppers had benefited from all the water from the dripping tap and had happily survived. Given a good dose of TLC and these plants have now quite happily returned to steady production.

The transition veg and herb garden on plot

Up on the plot there was equally good news in that the majority of the transplanting had survived on the crude irrigation system I had deployed. There had been some losses, notably courgette and some local mint plants, but the basil, aubergine, peppers and cherry tomatoes had survived not only on little water but also the burrowing attentions of the resident Cretan Marten.

Basil and aubergines thrive

Unfortunately the fig crop I was so looking forward to had totally disappeared! Whilst the Cretan Marten may well have seen off the last of the apples and already made a start on the pomegranates it would be unjust of me to lay the loss of the fig crop at its door as there was no sign of a fig, or even part eaten fig, on any of the previously well laden bushes. Sad to say it seems that the current economic situation may have led to the culprit being two legged and not four!

From these simple experiments and observation the importance of a regular water supply and irrigation strategy for any future forest garden, vegetable garden including medicinal and aromatic herbs etc is painfully apparent in order to survive the hot dry summer conditions. That said the plants and trees that are adapted to these harsh conditions olives, mountain sage, vines etc seem well able to cope with long periods of drought, along with local varieties of fruit and vegetable that have been bred for outdoor use rather than the more northern European varieties.

In my next post I will continue to explore what I need to do on the plot to ensure a steady supply of irrigation water.