Gardening in a new climate

With the six tomato plants from the landlord and a whole lot of seeds brought over in my bag (perfectly legal while we are in the EU, Officer) – I have started the real ‘Greek Garden’. This is actually really exiting – just to see how plants respond and thrive (I hope!) in a totally different climate. Now in our second week in the house, the first set of cosmos seeds I planted on day 1 have actually germinated which cheered me up no end while the weather took a grey dive and we shivered in bed! Now the weather seems to have decided it is summer so it’s a steady 21c in the day and 15c at night.

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In the past 10 days I have potted up: some Tomato Radana seeds, aubergine (from a Greek packet purchased in Patmos last year), courgette, cucumber and broad beans. Having seen some local gardens on my walks around, I know their broad beans and courgettes are weeks ahead, but I will persevere regardless. I think most of the veg will be done in containers – I’m keeping my eyes peeled for any discarded feta/ olive oil cans. This is in fact the most recycling/resourceful gardening attempt I’ve made. I am also researching into reusing grey water from washing up, to help ease our usage when the drier weather starts.

Yet, I only recently purchased an implement almost like a trowel for 2 euros after a comedic expressive conversation with a man in hardware shop in my limited Greek ‘kipourikí’ (gardening)  – fyto (plants) while miming the act of trowelling soil! That is likely to be my most technical purchase. I have a bag of compost (found at the Euroshop) and loads of old plant pots thanks to the landlord’s generosity. All the germination pods are made from either yogurt pots or plastic trays with cling film as a lid or smaller pots with a water bottle cut in half acting as mini greenhouses. Nothing goes to waste here!

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In terms of flowers I have the fore-mentioned cosmos which are collected from the white and pink ones from my uk garden last year, french marigolds, sunflowers of dwarf and tall variety. I also picked up packets of cottage garden mix and nasturtiums from a supermarket trip. All are potted and some are starting to pop up… I also threw a handful on the soil of the bed next to the steps – some have started to shoot. So perhaps the soil isn’t all bad.

Given that we are cooking at home most nights I wanted to make sure I had access to fresh herbs so am attempting to grow coriander, chives, parsley, dill and oregano, both staples of the Greek kitchen, from seed as well. I have cheated with the pot of mint given to us and the Greek basil plant bought in town. By the way the tiny fragrant basil leaves of the Greek variety are amazing, sprinkled on salads and in pasts – knocks the socks of the huge leafed monsters in pots you find back in the UK.  In an attempt to turn the gardening into an educational exercise I wrote my plant labels in Greek too – you know for chats with any local gardeners!

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When in the big town last week I couldn’t resist buying a couple of petunias as well. They are dazzling pinks and purple, alongside the existing red geranium, which I have taken cuttings from too. I am already envisioning a riot of colour! There is also a flowering aloe plant which looked hastily replanted and isn’t faring to well. I will need to keep an eye on that.

Graeme has pitched in as the architect and has built a veg bed, cordoned off with stones collected from the beach, which hopefully with some compost can be a good place for salad leaves and spinach too. This won’t be a Chelsea showgarden but it will be pots everywhere and clashing colour, with bits of flotsam and jetsom to decorate. Could this be next year’s big gardening trend?

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In terms of the old pests, I have noticed snails here and am prepared to do battle organically with beer traps. It hasn’t rained for over a week now and might only see a few minor showers now we are into May. Water will be the big challenge.

Noting the proliferation of cats in the neighbourhood, many people seem to put bamboo kebab sticks in their plant pots as a barrier to cats digging in them I imagine. As if I needed another reason to eat more souvlaki!

With big plans ahead and the weather warming up it all feels like this is the right place to spend the summer watching things grow and creating a garden.

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