Vegetables grow easily on Lanzarote, but they’ll need some tender loving care before you chop them up and eat them.
You can grow almost any vegetable on Lanzarote, but the intense heat and aridity of the island’s climate means that they will usually require quite a bit of care and attention. This, and the fact that fresh veggies are widely available in shops, markets and supermarkets, means that many gardeners don’t bother to grow their own, and garden centres tend not to focus too closely on kitchen garden plants apart from stocking seeds.
Those gardeners who believe that vegetables such as parsnips, carrots, brussels sprouts and kale taste better after a frost can also forget about sub-zero temperatures ever occurring on this island. Nevertheless, all these products are possible to grow.
While it’s possible to grow some plants for your kitchen on a patio, balcony or a windowsill, to grow vegetables seriously you’ll need a garden and a well-prepared plot.
Tomatoes thrive in Lanzarote’s sunshine, and few things are more satisfying than enjoying ripe tomatoes that you’ve grown yourself from seed.
Tomatoes are great fun, but they also take up space and, while it’s possible to grow them on a balcony, they may start to dominate, both in terms of size and the distinctive odour of tomato plants.
Tomatoes can be grown directly from a growbag, and depending on the variety, you’ll need to stake and tie them. They need plenty of sun, plenty of water and some high potassium fertiliser.
The worst pest on Lanzarote is the tomato moth. Unfortunately, by the time you see one it’s probably too late.
You won’t find better sweet potatoes anywhere in the world than on Lanzarote. The healthy, nourishing tuber has been grown here ever since it was introduced from the Americas, and Lanzarote holds the world record for the largest sweet potato. In the sandy jable region of the island, a hole is dug to the soil lying beneath the sand, and a seed potato or cutting is planted with a handful of fertiliser. Watering is minimal, and the potatoes are protected from the wind by ridges of sand.
All sorts of root vegetables work on Lanzarote, from carrots and beetroot to turnips and radishes. Radishes are easy to grow, taking as little as three weeks to produce firm, crunchy globes (although local varieties often produce longer, knobbly radishes that taste just as good) and a bunch of green leaves that are surprisingly tasty.
Onions have always been one of Lanzarote’s favourite crops, and the sweet local onions that are in season right now are one of the island’s finest products.
However, you can also grow spring onions (the locals prefer these with more bulbous bases, but for British-style scallions you should harvest after eight weeks.) Leeks, garlic and chives are other members of the allium family that can be easily grown on Lanzarote. We’d recommend trying garlic, as the fresh bulbs have a much subtler flavour to the intense dried bulbs on sale in shops.
CROPS IN A SMALL SPACE
If your space is limited to a balcony or patio, then you’ll need to scale down your vegetable production. You’ll probably be limited to containers, but the options are still exciting.
Start with herbs – basil, parsley, mint, rosemary, chives and lavendar all grow amazingly here. You can go for some small scale garlic or spring onion production, and the jewel-like colours of peppers and chillies are hugely popular here.
Other veg will depend on space, but it’s worth examining seed packets for smaller dwarf varieties of tomatoes, peas and beans.
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