End of the Month Review, January 2011

Realistically I have done very little in the garden this month.  I did prune all the Wisteria on the pillars around the terrace and also the roses there too.  The vegetable garden is tidy and waiting for better weather to plant the onions I bought (I’m hoping they haven’t dried out since I bought them.  I may have already mentioned that the garlic I planted at the beginning of the month are all shooting but all have pushed up out of the soil just as the book said they would if they were planted at the new moon (and that was exactly when I planted them).  Note to self – check the book before you plant rather than just after!  I hope it won’t make too much difference to them.  A winter crop I’ve been thrilled with is Broccoli – The first main heads were excellent but what has surprised me is that they have continued to produce secondary and 3rd, 4th and I think even 5th heads, I will plant even more next year as they are one of my favourite vegetables and also make a great sauce for pasta and delicious risotto.

My exciting news is that I’ve decided to buy a greenhouse (known as a serra in Italian.  Because gardening is not the hobby here as it is in the UK it has not been easy to find information about greenhouses at all and even more difficult to actually see one before committing to buying!  On Saturday I saw a display model and was impressed with the quality.  I think they are more expensive here because so few are sold but I’m looking forward now to ordering and having this useful addition to the garden.  My main use will be to over winter Lemon plants (I don’t have them yet) that I want for the terrace – the perfume of lemon flowers and the joy of picking my own lemons will be wonderful.  I will also look for some limes as they are difficult to buy here and essential when cooking Thai curries. I also want to extend the season for peppers and aubergines and maybe tomatoes.  It will also give me the opportunity to grow some plants from seed – for varieties that I can’t buy as plug plants.  Again another ingredient of Thai recipes Holy Basil is one of the plants I’d like to grow and maybe Lemon grass too.

I’d also like to experiment some different flowers for cutting – but I’ll have to be patient and see what the possibilities are.

At present I don’t grow Pelargoniums but they are something that would flower in mid-summer when most other things are in summer dormancy because of the heat.  In reality I don’t need a greenhouse for this as everyone here usually just puts the plants in a dry place, a garage or cellar, and leaves them until spring when though the plants normally look rather sad will shoot and many cuttings can be taken to produce new plants and the ‘mother’ plant can be coaxed back to healthy growth with some food and water!  I only have somewhere that is too damp so the plants would rot off, so that’s my reason for not growing them now.

The extreme cold we had in December (minus 7 at least) may have killed the Agapanthus I have planted in the left hand border.  I like the Agapanthus a lot so when I get the greenhouse I can plant some up in pots then over winter them safely.  I’m going to have to decide whether I want to maintain it frost free – I will be re-reading Janet’s (at Plantalicious) comments on this subject.  I don’t want to heat it unless we put up a solar panel which may be a good option as there is always lots of sun even when it is cold.

As always thanks to Helen at Patient Gardener for hosting the End of Month review.

I will be returning to the ‘slope’ but nothing has changed since planting in October and November.  As there are no obvious other new areas I’ll try to give you more details about the existing beds and borders.  Sorry no photos either today.


9 thoughts on “End of the Month Review, January 2011

  1. So exciting to hear you are to have a greenhouse! Can’t wait to see it, and hear all about your greenhouse adventures. Lemons and limes sound like a great use, Agapanthus too. We rented a house for Christmas and New Year near Cape Town with some friends a few years ago, and one of the highlights – apart from the view of Table Mountain – was picking fresh lemons for G&T. If you email me your address I will send you some Knautia macedonica seed if you are still interested, and you can try them out in your new greenhouse.

    Fascinating about the garlic pushing up like that.

    • I have had problems with the garlic pushing up some years in the past, I just thought it was something to do with birds pulling them out of the ground, however, the contadini (countrymen) here follow the Lunar calender, its printed on all calenders and is always included every month in the gardening magazines. I believe it makes a difference even though it is difficult to explain exactly how; the moon obviously controls the tides etc. so why not how seeds grow; I even have friends who will only have their hair cut during certain phases of the moon!

  2. HiChristine – thanks for joining in again this month.
    I am intrigued that you are thinking of getting a greenhouse as I think of you having excellent temperatures but then I suppose the winters are cold. I have a small electric heater (£20 cost a couple of years) back which I can set to come on when the temperature drops below whatever I choose. It is very effeciient.

    Another idea I would have liked to explore if I had the space and funds would be to sink the greenhouse so you walk down into it – apparently this way the earth surrounding the bottom half of the greenhouse helps maintain temperatures. There is also a way of getting heat from the soil but that is beyond me but I am sure you could find out more if you rooted around on the internet.


    • Hi Helen. Everyone always thinks Italy is warm all the time – far from it. I think the winters are usually colder here than Southern England. Before Christmas we had temperatures below freezing for about 10 days and this week is forecast about the same. Night temperatures of minus 6 and 7 for the next few days; this is colder than last year but the weather charts for this area state that you can expect temperatures to fall to minus 10 in some years! The cold is usually assocciated with strong winds too, so with the wind chill factor we’re taliking seriously COLD! Thanks for the ideas, I’ll investigate, I’d like to replace 2 of the roof panels with solar panels; they cost quite a lot but I would feel I was doing the ‘right’ thing.

  3. I line my greenhouse with plastic bubble wrap for the winter. I take it down for the summer and re-use next year. Ialso use a greenhouse fan heater set on a frost setting. Works fine for me. Obviously Italy in winter is a lot colder than I had previously realised.

    • Hi, sorry I didn’t reply before your comment was put in the spam box, I can’t imagine why. Everyone thinks Italy is warm all the time but far from it – even the far south has snow most years.

  4. Pingback: Working outside « Creating my own garden of the Hesperides

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