30 December – Seed Planting

Seed Pots

Seed Pots

This may seem a strange time to plant seeds. The reason why I can start seeds off now is because we have a place on the coast and one up in the mountains. The average temperature on the coast is about 14C and in the mountains it is 5C .The idea is to get the plants going and then transfer them to the mountains after March.

All the seeds here are plants that could cope with some low temperatures at the start.

I have planted several pots. If any of them germinate I will transplant them into pots or modules. Very tiny seeds are just sprinkled onto the surface. Bigger seeds are mixed into the soil with the ends of my fingers according to size. The soil is normal potting compost and at the top of the pots there is some finer seed compost which was bought at a garden centre.

Petunias (fire chief) wiki
Petunias are great flowers. They cope well with the hot sun and the don’t get too upset by an occasional lack of water and also they flower for ages.  Petunias normally only cost about 1.20 euros each for a potted one but it will be good if we can get loads of them to use in the summer. Petunia seeds are very small so they are just spread on the surface of the flowerpot.

Snapdragons - Antirrhinum

Snapdragons Antirrhinum wiki
These are the sort of hard as nails plants we like at the cortijo. There are some snap dragons alive and flowering  at the moment in the cortijo and the temperature has been down to -5C. A good quality about snaps is that they self-seed themselves and once there are a few growing they will establish a colony.



Tudela Lettuce (cogollos de Tudela in Spanish) wiki
Cogollos de Tudela are a really good Spanish lettuce that form very compact hearts. If you go to a Spanish restaurant you can order “cogollos” which is normally lettuce hearts drizzled with a sort of garlic oil. They are very healthy to eat and you can make a very quick almost 0 calorie snack by slicing  a cogollo lettuce heart into 4 laterally and drizzling on some extra virgin olive.

Capers (capparis Spinosa) (alcaparras in Spanish)  wiki
This is probably a waste of time because caper seeds are very difficult to germinate and require stratifying. They probably won’t germinate but you never know.

Parsnip (Pastinaca) (chirivía in Spanish)  wiki
These were some seeds that I has in an old packet. Let’s hope they germinate.

seed traysI have also planted lots of plants into seed trays. The trays cost about 2 euros. It is the best way of raising lots of small plants for later transplanting.

I normally buy my plants form a shop called Bolivar in Granada. (they cost about 8 cents each) This year I am going to try to grow some of them myself.

I have the following plants in the seed trays.
Cauliflowers  (coliflor in Spanish)  wiki
Cauliflowers do very well at the cortijo.

Spring onion  (cebolleta in Spanish)  wiki
The was a packet of White Lisbon which came free with Grow Your Own  magazine.

Kale (Black tuscany)  (col rizada in Spanish)  wiki
There were some seeds in the bottom of a packet. It is a type of Curly Kale with purple leaves.

Leek  (puero in Spanish)  wiki
I bought these seeds from Al Campo supermarket.

Brunswick Cabbage  (Col Repollo)  wiki


Propagating Geraniums

Every year I have to buy more Geraniums because at some point the temperature gets down to about -10C and kills them.

This year I have decided to propagate some geraniums by planting  cuttings at the house on the coast which has a mild climate.

I simply cut off the main stems from the parent plants and then protected the originals with garden fleece so that they might survive the winter.  I made cuttings about 15cm long, making the cut just below a node.  I left one healthy leaf on each cutting. I didn’t use any cutting hormones. (because I had forgotten to buy any). I used a plastic tray module.I did  this on the 28th December 2011. They were left in the open air. The climate is mild and rarely goes below 10C.

Blog post continued on 6th March 2013.

The picture below shows the overwintering geraniums from last year and new ones being propagated. Last year’s ones were a big success.
Propagating geraniums is easy.  The most important thing to do is spray them every 3 weeks to stop the stem boring caterpillars.


The Goji Berry Project

In August 2010 I bought some dried Goji berries. At that time they were being touted as the ultimate super food, capable of lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, cleaning the blood and a whole list of other health benefits which it seemed would lead to almost everlasting life.  I checked them out on many websites and their growing conditions matched the climate of our cortijo. The can put up with cold down to -15C and also they don’t mind strong sun and drought conditions, I realised that  this is the sort of tough as old boots plants we need in the sometimes harsh environment that we have at the cortijo. After some more research I decided to grow some.

The first step was to soak the seeds in water for a day and then break the berries up with my fingers. Then the seeds were put in a kitchen sieve and put under a jet of water. It was easy to separate then from the pulp. I then spread the seeds onto the top of some potting compost in a flowerpot.  When some of the seedlings were about 1cm high I transplanted them to  plastic growing modules.

Some of them died but I kept replacing them with other ones from the flowerpot until I had about 50 viable plants.

Most of the plants had reached about 8cm by October. We then took them down to the coast which has a mild climate with no frost. During the winter they did not lose their leaves but they seemed to be in a dormant state and did not grow much. Supposedly the dormant state was influenced by the hours of daylight.

We started planting the Goji berries into the ground on the 2nd of May 2011. The holes were about 30cm deep and we filled them with a mixture of manure, bags of garden soil form the garden centre and a little fish blood and bone mixture.



Peter designed a  system to protect the young plants from rabbits or other unwanted predators. Peter made tubes out of chicken wire which were held in place by bamboo sticks. The advantage of this system is that the wire mesh can be easily pushed up to enable weeding.



Goji berry just after being planted

Although the plants had been in a mild climate on the coast with a fair amount of sun they were only about 12cm high when we planted them.

They were mulched with composted almond shells.




Cathy Goji BerryGoji Berry Grown on the Coast The photo below is a plant that I gave to a friend from the original batch who lives on the coast near Malaga. She kept the pot in a garden and watered it well. This is much better than any of my plants. This just goes to show that the environment is very important.