Sloe growth

You might have read an earlier post on Living in Rural Mallorca about our blackthorn bushes, kindly brought over for us from the UK by our best friends, who wanted to surprise us this unusual gift. And they did.

Not only had they remembered The Boss mentioning that he couldn’t make any more sloe gin, because we couldn’t find sloes anywhere, they’d also sourced 20 young  blackthorn shrubs from a good plant nursery and packed them carefully into a suitcase, to bring over on one of their visits to us on Mallorca.

In the manner of Mallorcan country folk, The Boss pondered for some time over where he would plant what he hoped would turn into a bountiful hedge. Spot chosen, he planted the individual shrubs, a suitable distance apart, and gave them a good pep talk to encourage some rapid growth.

The full Monty

Tending plants in the garden is largely my domain (although I couldn’t do it without The Boss to take a pickaxe to the ground whenever I want to put a new plant in). But he’s become a regular Monty Don (a BBC TV gardening expert, if you live outside the UK and haven’t a clue who he is), and is often to be found down the field, fertilizer and watering can to hand, scrutinizing the progress of the blackthorns’ growth. Apparently, it’s slow at best, and non-existent if he’s in a less positive frame of mind.

From my perspective, I think there has been some growth – perhaps because I’m not down there a couple of times a day looking at them, so the difference is more obvious. But the acid test will be in a few days, when our friends return for a week’s visit. Will they see a difference in size in the plants they had nurtured in their apartment for some time? Let’s hope so . . .

Not so sloe progress?

Not so sloe progress?

Sloe, sloe, dig, dig, sloe

A hedge-in-the-making: one of 20 blackthorn shrubs that now grace our back field

A hedge-in-the-making: one of 20 blackthorn shrubs that now grace our back field

The Boss has an aching back – but he’s convinced it will have been worth it: he’s just planted 20 blackthorn bushes in the back field of our finca in rural Mallorca. One day they’ll grow up to become a long hedge and bear a multitude of sloes (see how hopeful I am?) with which he’ll make sloe gin. The fact that we can look forward to our own crop of sloes is down to our fantastic friends from Oxfordshire, who kindly brought the young shrubs over to Mallorca in their cabin baggage! https://livinginruralmallorca.com/2013/02/15/sloe-road-to-mallorca/

Planting anything on our land calls for more than a spade and fork, because what looks like normal land is mainly rocks with a covering of soil. Rarely can we plant something where we’d ideally like it to be, because a few test probes with a fork usually reveal that there’s not enough earth, or a mammoth rock is lurking beneath. Where would we be without a pickaxe?

Dynamite might do it

A Mallorcan wine-maker who lives nearby once told us how, as a child, he remembered dynamite being used to blast away rocks in one of the family’s fields so that an orchard could be planted. It’s a large field, so we can only imagine how noisy that must have been!

Whilst dynamite would be a quick solution – and less back-breaking – it would surely frighten the sheep in the field across the lane . . . and probably sound the death knell for what’s left of the ruined neighbouring casita. And think of the dust!

So our fledgling hedge was planted with muscle power. And don’t those muscles know it . . .

Sloe Road to Mallorca

What are you least likely to pack in your carry-on bag when flying to Mallorca for a short break with friends? How about baby blackthorn bushes? Twenty of ’em!

Our friends Duncan and Kristina came over to Mallorca last weekend to remind themselves what sunshine looks like (well, they live in the UK and it’s been a bit thin in the sky of late).  When we picked them up at the airport, they were keen to point out that one of their carry-on bags needed to be transported carefully.  We thought nothing of it until we came home and said bag was opened . . . to reveal what looked like a bunch of twigs in some soil.

Our future source of sloes

Our future source of sloes

Sloe-growing

On closer inspection they still looked like a bunch of twigs in some soil (miraculously the soil hadn’t parted company from the twigs – some of which were sprouting a bit of greenery). We were none the wiser until our friends explained that these were cell-grown blackthorn bushes that would grow into a hedge, and bear sloes.

The Boss had made some sloe gin about a decade ago, when we lived in the UK, and the last of it was shared with these friends during their previous visit. At the time, he’d mentioned that he’d like to make more, but sloes were almost impossible to find here.

On the case . . . and in the case

Our friends set about finding a solution. They went to Buckingham Nurseries and Garden Centre (www.hedging.co.uk) where they explained that the plants were destined to be planted in Mallorca. The helpful member of staff provided plenty of advice and information (in the form of various leaflets that were delivered with the plants), and sold them the 20 baby blackthorn bushes that are currently residing in a bucket of water outside, ready for planting in our field over the weekend.

Our friends were slightly nervous about flying to Mallorca with the plants, but the nurseryman said it wouldn’t be a problem and offered to speak to airport staff on the phone if any problem did arise. As it happens, the case carrying the fledgling hedge passed through the airport X-ray machine without question. Maybe baby bushes aren’t such an unusual item to pack in a carry-on bag on a flight to Mallorca?

Jan Edwards©2013