Gardeners on Lanzarote can learn a lot just by looking around them, and the cultivation techniques on this island offer all sorts of possibilities. Here are a few bright ideas you could easily borrow.
The unique landscape of La Geria is the result of a style of vine cultivation that is unique in the world; it’s an ingenious, sustainable, gardening style that has the added plus of being hugely attractive.
The main elements of this technique are a pit in the ground; volcanic picón (gravel) and a horseshoe-shaped wall. The pit allows the plant to access deep mineral rich soil and provides shelter from the scorching wind. It also means that morning dew and any rainfall trickle down to reach the plant. Every grain of picón is covered in tiny pores which preserve moisture and protect the roots of the plant. Finally, the wall provides even more valuable wind protection and allows more moisture to trickle down.
Just study La Geria and you’ll see how it works. The wall must protect plants from prevailing NE winds, and the pit will need regular weeding. A bit of fertiliser does no harm, either. In a normal garden it’s probably worth scaling down this technique for smaller plants – you probably won’t need quite such a deep pit, and can get away with more than the solitary occupants that you find in the wine fields.
Jable is the sand that is washed up at Famara and gradually blown down the island to form southern beaches. In Soo and other villages located in the jable corridor, another unique method has been developed.
The sand is hugely nutritious, and full of minerals, and it also maintains moisture and regulates the temperature of anything beneath. Jable farmers create long furrows that are perpendicular to the wind, planting their crops in the troughs to give them protection from breezes and wind-blown sand.
It’s a technique suited to potatoes and sweet potatoes, which are dropped into separate holes with some guano or fishmeal, but it is also used to grow Lanzarote’s famous pumpkins and melons.
This cultivation method known as terracing has been developed all over the world, from China to Peru, simply because it is brilliant for farming on hillsides. Almost anywhere in rural Lanzarote, you can also see the ruins of terraces that once fed families.
Terrace gardening, basically, involves turning slopes into steps, which provide the flat beds that plants can grow in. Water and nutrients naturally make their way down the terrace, feeding all plants.
If there’s any kind of steep gradient in your garden it’s well worth considering the time and effort that setting up a terrace will take. Usually this will involve building up terraces with wooden boards or stone walls. Even if you don’t have a hillside in your garden, you can adapt the principles of terracing to smaller rockeries or artifical vertical gardens.