THE SALVATION OF HYDRATION by Alia Babapulle

As we come out of the hottest months of the year, we can be left feeling wilted and down. Well, so do our plants. What do we do? We hydrate. So must our plants. Let’s take a step back and look objectively at our garden. It could be time to move some pot plants. I love moving my plants about as they seem to like being somewhere else for a change, and/or pruning them back a bit, clearing out all the dead leaves and dead heading.

All of this should be done throughout the year, of course, but leaves get brown quickly in the summer heat, so be careful to pull off as many as possible to keep the plant healthy. Don’t mow the lawn (if you have one) as you normally would. Let it grow a bit longer – otherwise you could get brown patches everywhere. You should start to aerate the ground, and dig up around your plants anyway, as they like to have the soil loosened, and put down some liquid fertiliser. I always find that flowering plants and bushes are very appreciative of that in summer and autumn. Do NOT water during the day, and ONLY the roots. I try to water my garden late at night; the water seeps in and rests on the roots for far longer. Once a week I lightly spray all the plants with some water to freshen them up. If you have large leafed plants on your terraces, wipe them down regularly – the leaves must be kept free of dust. The best thing you can do for them is give them a light shower every week. Terrace plants need to be kept clean as they absorb so much dirt and dust in the air. They do their best to keep the air fresh, so the least we can do is keep them clean. If you are getting bugs, eco-friendly crushed garlic cloves in a large spray bottle will help. Let the mixture stand for three days, shake before spraying and then go for it. I do all my herbs and especially the undersides, as the pesky bugs attack there as well.

 

My chillies, coriander, basil, lemon thyme, oregano, parsley and mint are all bug-free. Just wash them all well before using. Incidentally, if you can, don’t chop basil. Tear it, as this gives a better flavour. Now is the time to use a lot of your herbs for delicious oils. Never with olive oil, only a good sunflower or rape oil, as olive oil overpowers the herbal taste. Don’t be stingy with putting herbs into oil – the more the better. Let the oils sit for at least two weeks,  shaking the sterilised bottles gently from time to time. Many flowers have gone into semi-hibernation during the heat. Just watch, as soon as it cools down, up they will come with renewed vigour. You can appreciate the new flowering once again. September and October here on the Costa del Sol can still be very hot, so treat your plants, bushes and trees with care. They will appreciate it and so will you. Have fun, stay safe and I hope to have you all back for the next edition.

Alia Babapulle – Interior and Exterior Designer
Tel. (+34) 616 670 975 / aliabdesigns@live.co.uk

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