Starting the garden

My new garden!

I’m having a new garden again! This is the third garden in my gardening career but it is the first one in Portugal. I’ve been a member of the community garden for two weeks and in this period I’ve already made some works on my plot. Here goes the photo of a piece of land which is available for my gardening experiments.

Empty plot

I was lucky that I didn’t get an empty plot. I could start to harvest New Zealand Spinach right away. You don’t know this plant? Neither did I. It’s a perennial kind of spinach which has a bit rougher leaves than the usual one. I suggest eating just leaves and not the stem.

Plants

New Zealand spinach, green pepper and taro.

There is also a tiny green pepper beside the spinach and taro. Yap, I have taro as well and I still have no idea about this plant. The only thing I know is that it’s a tuber native to South India and Southeast Asia and it needs a lot of water.

Plan - September

This the current plan of my garden, which will probably be changing with the time.

Covering the plot

Covering the plot

Covering the soil was the first thing to do when starting the garden. In my case I covered my new beds with fern, mostly because it is one of the rare plants with abundant green leaves at the moment. The calendar autumn has officially started but here there is no sign of rain and the sun is still beating down. When having a garden there is one important thing to remember: the soil in the garden should NEVER be exposed. If you have an empty bed it is convenient to cover it with mulch and it’s even better if you grow some green manure crops.

New shape of the garden

The garden started getting the shape. I have planted first vegetables and protected them from the sun. At the local market in Covilhã I have bought some cabbage and two varieties of lettuce. This was actually all I could get there. I planted cabbage and lettuce together as they are good companions and right for interplanting.

Lettuce

The low growing salad provides a kind of mulch around the cabbage and protects the soil from evaporation. Besides, this combination protects the cabbage from different plagues. I still have a lot of space between the plants and I will have to fill it up in the future.

Herbs in the garden

This week we have visited the market in Fundão and our shopping was quite successful.  I planted some herbs between the cabbages. In the middle of the bed there is Thymus serpyllum, much extended species of thyme, with common names wild thyme, creeping thyme, or materina dušica in Slovenian. In Portuguese it’s named serpão and it is the queen of the herbs according to a lady at the market.

Lemon thyme

On every edge of the bed I’ve put the Lemon thyme. In ecological garden it is always convenient to have a lot of aromatic plants which chase the plagues away with their intensive smell.

Onion is planted

In a very special corner there is the onion growing, because it has many bad companions in the garden. The legumes and cabbage are two big groups that are better off without onion. In my case I hope the lettuce and herbs will serve as a barrier and soften a little the possible negative interaction between the cabbage and the onion.

Some useful links:

http://www.harvesttotable.com/2009/03/how_to_grow_new_zealand_spinac

http://www.harvesttotable.com/2010/03/taro/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thymus_serpyllum

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