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The Misery Of Gardening In Spain

By Mr Grumpy - Fri 17th Dec 2010

I hate gardening with a passion. I did when I lived in the UK, and I especially do now that I live in Spain.

The problem is that as I grew up on a farm I like my own personal space. This, together with the fact that I have an allergy to most members of the human race, makes owning a garden - or some other apron of space to give me a bit of privacy and distance from everybody else - an attractive prospect. I just don't really enjoy keeping it tidy and couldn't really give a toss about which plant or flowers should be planted where, or watered when or complements whatever...

So when I bought my Finca in Spain some years ago now, I had this idyllic vision of our rustic farmhouse sat in the middle of it's own olive grove with a few wild and uncultivated trees and shrubs scattered about. Very rustic, very in-keeping with the local and natural habitat, and above all - very low maintenance.

For those of you that aren't aware a Finca - or 'Finca Rustica' is a word applied to a rural plot of land, sometimes with or without a farm building. These are almost always located in the countryside on the outskirts of small inland villages and will often have Olives, Almonds, Figs, Oranges or Lemons growing on them. The fact that many of these Finca's are very old means that the trees growing on them are well established.

My Finca came with 2000 square meters of Land, which is very roughly the area of a football pitch, and almost straight away my vision of a rustic plot came crashing down when the Mrs began with her plans to landscape it. Now if there is one thing that you don't do it's try and landscape a rural Spanish plot of land into a manicured 'English Garden'. It just isn't happening without an endless supply of time, patience, money, irrigation and plants.

And then some more time.

And Patenice.

To start with, yes, there was grass of sorts growing on the plot in and amongst the various trees but I wouldn't expect a groundsman at Lords or Wimbledon to be too enthusiastic about it's quality. Similarly there were tons of small stones scattered everywhere, which I later learned were to be encouraged in order to 'anchor the soil' in times of torrential rain, and to help protect the roots from the heat of the sun.

Nonetheless we picked most of these up in order that we could work towards having a nice lawn. Fortunately our trees are quite mature and haven't really noticed our attempts to sabotage their well-being.

So 6 years down the line we have a garden that is free from small stones, but the surface is still too uneven to use a lawnmower of sorts on it, and as such I have to use a Petrol driven strimmer. And I'm not talking about one of those things that cost you twenty quid in Asda that you do the edges of the garden with either. On average I have to strim the garden twice each time - once to chop the rough down, and then once it has dried in the sun I have to strim it again to get a shorter cut and to mulch up the stuff from the first cut. This operation takes a full weekend and usually has to be done at least 3 or 4 times a year.

I was almost in tears the last time I did it. The Mrs went to the uk for a few days and left me the task of strimming the lawn. I manage to do it, it rained overnight (which caused an explosion of growth) and the first thing she did when she got back was moan that I hadn't strimmed the lawn. Certain expletives flew.

That's one of the major problems - the combination of a lot of water and a lot of sun means that gardens over here grow a lot more than they do in the UK. And sod's law says that it is usually the things that you don't want to grow that do, and vice versa.

And don't get me started on the trees ! - amongst others we have about 11 Olive Trees and a giant fig tree. Although we don't do anything with the crop commercially we still need to clean the leaves and everything else up etc... My 11 Stone Rhodesian Ridgeback has aquired a taste for ripe figs which he eats straight from the tree, so I'm sure you can imagine how important it is to get an endless supply of laxatives out of temptation's way!.

Comment on this Blog

I quite see your problem and agree that in terms of gardening you have to follow the rules of nature - climate, terrain, soil etc. Everythihg I first planted died since I wanted certain flowers to sit in certain places and they just would not comply! Anyway you give me hope that if I ever move back to the UK I can still grow "stuff". Maybe you could try one of those desert gardens they do in the Southwest USA. Mostly stones and cacti. Good luck!
Mo - Wed, 6th Apr 2011
Mowing the lawn - hilarious! What you need is a few sheep!
Alcalaina - Wed, 9th Feb 2011
Tarmac son! There must be a lorry load of passing navvies that can do it for a couple of euros. Then instead of spending your time strimming, you can spend it sweeping it all up when it starts to come away.
Jay. - Fri, 17th Dec 2010

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