For us here on the equator, the planting/growing/gardening season is about to begin. While all my favourite blogs show wonderful pictures of nature’s wonder, we are barely keeping the surviving plants alive; summer here is a naked, barren – and long, too long – season. We have endured three Saharian heat waves, with burning windstorms, dusty air and temperatures over 45º C (that’s 113º F, folks!) with no break for days. In that weather, most plants die or enter a dormant state until temperatures drop a little. We keep them watered, pruned and away from direct sunlight, and that’s all. Our only concern is cochineal, a very common plague here, which we have to patiently put away by hand because we don’t use chemical pesticides on our plants. Did you know that, during the colonial period, the Canary Islands were the biggest exporter of coccineal of Europe before chemical dyes substituted crimsom? And did you know that ants breed cochineal as we breed chickens? They carry the female cochineals from plant to plant and keep them on the most hidden places of the plant, so they can eat their eggs later?
Cochineal we foraged this past winter in Anaga.
So, while most of our readers are getting ready to start reaping their harvests and working with what summer has given them, we are preparing seed beads, planning which plants will be planted this year and preparing space for new herbs for our Magick Garden. We have built a new mini-greenhouse for the baby plants to survive September, using salvaged wood from paillets and a second hand bamboo curtain I got from my family like ten years ago. We will start sorting seeds – to plant and to sell – and planting the first ones today (hopefully), and we’re expecting a shipment of organic seeds from friends in the island of Las Palmas (yay for trading with organic farmers). Also, we expect to be able to visit Fernando’s parents’ farm this week to bring some plants and collect herbs and seeds (fennel, thistles, plantain and carthamus are seeding right now here), so this is going to be a busy, busy month. Local birds, which are almost the only fauna we can enjoy here in the suburbs, will begin another mating season very soon, and I really want birds in our little garden, so I will be building a feeding/nesting place on the highest spot of the greenhouse, away from the cats’ reach. Attracting birds is not an easy task when you have five young cats – but it’s worth a try because I’m such a bird freak. We have a couple of Blue Tit, the Canarian variety (Cyanistes Teneriffae) nesting in front of our house, so hopefully they, or their progeny, will come to visit.
Canarian Blue Tit – This image is not mine – Link
So, if I’m a bit absent on the next couple of weeks, remember that it is because I’m up to my elbows in garden dirt :).
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