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Herbs &


 Over the next months, I will be taking you
 through a fulfilling project; creating a herb
 and vegetable garden on the Costa del Sol
 without using insecticides, herbicides or
 3 part guide    Preparation


 harvest  Gardening on the Costa can be a challenge. Much   The compost bin is easy if you are not too worried about aesthetics. I
 of what you know from growing in the UK has to be
        use old pallets, three for back and sides and one as the front door. I use
 forgotten for one reason. Whereas you may get
 one main crop and a catch crop per year from land   old towels, plastic or old carpet to line the vertical sides. It all helps to
 in the UK you can expect two main crops plus a   retain moisture and restrict light, and I cover the bin with a sheet of black
 catch crop here in Spain. That means unless you   plastic for the same reason. The bin sits on bare earth so that worms can
 regularly re-energise the soil, replace all those   have free access. You will have read about how to build the perfect
 minerals and nutrients taken up by your plants, you   compost heap. Forget it. Start with some twiggy stuff and then pile in
 will soon have barren land that produces weak,   whatever you have with manure and coffee thrown in. Make sure the
 diseased crops. Fortunately there is a way to do   heap is damp, not sodden. You will have to water it during summer.
 this that does not involve the use of artificial   Once you have filled your bin to the top, it will take about six months to
 fertilisers.  reduce down to nearly a third by volume. At this stage, you can remove
        the top few centimetres that will not have fully decomposed to act as a
 The Power of Compost  compost bin starter and use the remainder as compost on the garden.
 Compost performs two primary functions. It
 introduces humus to the soil making it more friable   Notable Weeds
 and more efficient at retaining moisture, and it   The majority of weeds are annuals, and you will be getting rid of those
 re-introduces nutrients taken up by plants. As a   as you work the ground. There are two perennials that I find a particular
 bonus, on the clay soils common on the Costa del   nuisance.
 Sol, it also prevents the formation of the rock-hard   Bindweed. In flower, it produces small convolvulus type flowers (like
 surface that is impenetrable to fork, spade and   morning glory). Its leaves are dark green, small and ovate. Its stem and
 more importantly, the delicate roots of seedlings.  roots are white like thin spaghetti. One tiny piece of root left in the
 You can never have too much compost. Even if you   ground can produce a mass of bindweed in no time. The roots can
 compost all your waste vegetable material from   survive dry conditions for a couple of years, and they can be, in my
 garden and kitchen, you will never be able to   experience, up to one metre down. One day I was deep digging a patch
 entirely replace all the goodness taken from the   to rid it of bindweed, and a gentleman with an allotment nearby stopped,
 soil. You will have eaten much of it. Now I am not   peered over the edge of my metre plus deep trench, and enquired why I
 advocating using human waste although it did   was digging what looked like a grave. You get the idea.
 work and was much used in mediaeval times. Far
 better if you can use animal or poultry manure and,   Grass
 if you live on the coast, seaweed left over winter to   I am not sure what you would call this type of grass. It has small bean-
 have the salt washed out. Waste coffee grounds   sized black seeds with hair-thin, sharp appendages. They look dried up
 are a compost ingredient that is freely available   and dead until they find a hint of moisture, when, within hours, they
 here. Coffee boosts the nitrogen content of the   sprout green shoots, and the appendages become roots that rapidly
 compost and acts as a compost accelerator. Get   colonise the ground throwing up more green shoots as they go. Those
 friendly with your local café or venta. Do not have   seeds can survive years in the dry ground. As with bindweed the only
 more than about 20% by volume of coffee grounds   solution is to dig them out.
 to other vegetable waste, you can make it too rich.  Needless to say, I try not to put those weeds in my compost heap.
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