A soil-testing kit isn’t something many people whip out of their pockets when they go property-hunting but, if you have serious dreams of growing your own produce, it could be a useful item to have with you. Our lovely little finca was blessed with quite a few almond and fig trees, so I naively assumed that growing vegetables would be just a matter of hard work and time.
Dynamite as a gardening aid?
What isn’t obvious, when merely gazing at the Mediterranean garden we have created, is that the layer of earth is very shallow and beneath it is a bed of solid rock. In places, rocks rise above the soil, creating an attractive rockery effect. Several first-time visitors have complimented us on our strategic placing of the large stones and boulders, but we have to confess that nature did the hard work. The rocks are where they always were, and always will be – unless we employ the tactics of a local wine-producer, who blasted the rock on his land with dynamite, to create a better area for cultivation. The amount of dynamite we’d need would probably also flatten the house . . .
Using pots and garden centre compost, and a slightly less rocky corner of the garden, we had a little success last year growing potatoes (harvesting just enough for one meal), tomatoes, and salad leaves (which we had to share with an invisible but insatiable bug). The quantity and quality of what we grew didn’t seem to justify the effort – especially as we can buy excellent produce grown in the neighbouring valley in our local market.
Gifts on the gate
Sometimes we don’t even need to do that. We have some very generous neighbours – with more favourably located land – who regularly bring us surplus produce. Very often, we find a carrier bag bulging with promise, hanging over our gate. So far this summer, we’ve enjoyed tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, plums, and grapes – all grown locally.We have offered to pay something for these fruit and veggie gifts in the past, but the producers won’t hear of it. So, to thank them for their kindness, we buy them the occasional good bottle of wine – Mallorcan, of course.