September is when Lanzarote’s long hot summer starts to ease off. It might not seem that way – there’ll still be plenty of glorious weather, but plants which usually go into shutdown over the scorching months can sense that the nights are getting shorter and the weather is getting mellower – and things start getting active again.
As a result, it’s a good month to get some work done in your garden. Here are a few ideas to prepare for the next few months.
This is a great time of year to sow those winter greens that will provide sustenance in the winter months. Broccoli, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, chard, kale, cauliflowers – even Brussels sprouts are worth a try.
When you plant your seedlings out you’ll need some well-prepared soil and regular watering – Lanzarote’s autumn is unlikely to provide enough moisture.
Later September is also a fine time to sow wild flowers.
Citrus trees still require plenty of water if you’re looking for a good crop come January. Dig a trench around the tree, avoiding any roots on the surface, bank up the edges and then give it a good soaking twice a week. This will keep fruit hydrated and allow fertilisers to be absorbed.
Climbers and creepers
Climbing plants like bougainvillea will require maintenance and clipping. Cut out runners and fast shooters and restrict nitrogen fertilizer, as this will produce too many new shoots, and these can become a haven for aphids.
Many birds love this time of year, when plants and trees go to seed. You may be lucky enough (or unlucky, depending on your point of view) to have a tree full of chirping sparrows, which often gather noisily at dawn or before nightfall.
However, you should watch out for hoopoes. These beautiful birds are unmistakable with their pink colouring, their black and white barred tail, their crests and their distinctive dipping flight. They’re also harmless to your garden, but if you do see them it could be a sign that you have a problem with moths and their larvae.
It’s important not to let plants dry out completely in Lanzarote’s early autumn, but it’s also important not to overwater them. You’ll soon see the results of both, but you’ll only get a real idea of what’s going on if you dig down and get your hands in there.
Don’t just feel for moisture, though. Examine and smell the soil for signs of fungus, that may be caused by overwatering.
Irrigation systems that supply a controlled amount of water to the roots of your plants and trees are a great idea on Lanzarote, but it’s not always a great idea to rely on them. This year we’ve seen plenty of calimas, with airborne dust settling on any surface, and that includes leaves and flowers.
Dust prevents leaves from working to their full potential, so a good hose down every couple of weeks will help to rinse them off and get them back to normal. Make sure you do this early in the morning or in the evening, as droplets on leaves can magnify sunlight and cause burning.
Clip, cut and harvest
Now’s not a time for hard pruning, Drastic cutbacks of shrubs, grasses and trees are better kept for the later winter months, when new growth is likely to be most vigorous.
But it is a good time to ensure that plants don’t get too leggy; to deadhead flowers and to harvest fruit. Help your plants along gently, but save the serious stuff for later.
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