Saturday 17 November 2012

Summer in Crete 2012

Action man!!
The weather in Crete continued to be absolutely wonderful throughout May and June with endless days of clear blue skies and continuous sunshine. All the plants I had been growing on the terrace of our apartment were thriving with a good soaking early morning and in the relative cool of the evening. At the beginning of July we were blessed with a real heatwave 35 - 40 degrees centigrade day after day with only a little respite overnight. With a lot of care and attention I was able to keep the plants going. The problem was that we had to return to the UK for a period of over two months and would not be back in Crete until towards the end of September so needed to devise a strategy to keep as many plants irrigated as possible.

Ready for the move

What we did have was a steadily dripping outdoor tap on the terrace that I had been saving the water from in a large bucket and using it to water the plants by hand. On our plot of land we had a steady, if slowing, flow of water from a spring that would overflow our storage tank and be available for watering.

Planting up
Given that I did not have the time, or money, to invest in a fully automatic watering system to meet a temporary need, I decided that the best strategy was to clear a small area on the plot and plant up the basil, aubergine, tomato, pepper and mint plants I had been bringing on to maintain our supply into the Autumn and put in a crude (i.e. trench) watering system.

Temporary water channel

The area of land I chose to utilise had already benefited from some overflow from the water storage tank. More importantly, given the rock hard baked summer soil, this area had also received the attentions of what I believe is a Cretan Marten that "dug" many small hollows particularly where the soil was damp. The longer term implications of this was not lost on me but was the best trade off I could do in the time, given my energy, the heat and the baked soil! So the plants were packed up from the terrace and replanted on the plot and the irrigation channel cut.

Terrace "automatic" drip watering system
Meanwhile on the terrace itself I was left with a collection of hot chilli pepper plants that had yielded an excellent crop of chills that were just starting to move from green to red, a number of mini red pepper plants and a few well established aubergine plants. My solution here was to devise a drip irrigation system that utilised the dripping outdoor tap. I used a recycled plastic container as the resevoir with holes drilled in either side at exactly the same height and tubing attached to feed the two large containers holding the plants. I rigged the system up and after a little fine tuning, that ensured both outlets were at the same height, the system worked perfectly dividing the water between the two containers.

The next post will reveal the results of two months of neglect….