Did you know that gardening is one of the most popular activities carried out by people in their leisure time?

In a study carried out by Dan Buettner he says there is evidence that gardeners live longer and are less stressed. A variety of studies confirm this, pointing to both the physical and mental health benefits of gardening.

http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20181210-gardening-could-be-the-hobby-that-helps-you-live-to-100

Many of you who have made your home in Fethiye and the surrounding areas are keen gardeners however, due to the difference in climate, find there are a whole different set of challenges to gardening in Turkey.

Fethiye Times is delighted to bring you a new series of gardening articles written by local resident and keen gardener, Lee Stevenson (aka An English Gardener in Çalış).

Meet Lee

“I have lived in Fethiye for just over three years. After holidaying in Çalış for a number of years, I was lucky enough to be able to retire from my job as a stock controller and move out here permanently with my wife, in-laws and Jack Russell, Holly. My interests are gardening, darts (I play in the local leagues) and football (Portsmouth supporter). I like to cycle when I’m out and about. Fethiye is very flat making it easy to get around. I also enjoy visiting new places.”

How does your garden grow? Lee's gardening advice - getting started
Lee is pictured here in his garden with a luffah plant

Lee will bring you an article every month. The articles will talk about what’s happening in the garden at that particular time of year, what’s coming next, details of unusual or more difficult plants to grow, hints and tips for overcoming the challenges caused by the hot climate, and much more.

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice

Getting started

March/April is a busy time in the garden as the wet days are fewer and the temperatures are warmer, both during the day and at night.

It’s still not to late to sow from seed tomatoes, chillies (my favourite) , aubergine (eggplant), lettuce (salad leaves), leeks, corn, parsnips, swede, peas, beans, carrot, beetroot,  squashes (pumpkin, cucumber, courgette, melons, luffah), cabbage & most members of the brassica family (cabbage, kale, cauliflower etc).

Most seeds shouldn’t be sowed any deeper than twice their size and kept from drying out or being over watered. 

Get Sowing

Lettuce, leeks, swede, brassica’s and broad beans can be sown where they will grow, roughly the distance of two tennis ball lengths apart to allow growing space.

How does your garden grow? Lee's gardening advice - getting started
Photo Credit: TLC Garden Centres

I prefer to sow peas, runner beans/French beans in seed trays or smaller pots and then plant out once they have germinated & grown to a size that can be easily handled.

In Fethiye, lettuce should be planted from May onwards, out of full sun (less than 8 hours constant) or it will run to seed fairly quickly. The best time to water your young plants is last thing in the afternoon just before sunset. If watered whilst the sun is still shining the plants will dry out as quickly as you water them and you run the risk of leaf burn which occurs when water on your plants acts like a magnifying glass in the sun and burns the leaves. If possible, try to water the soil around your plants.

Weeds 

One benefit of the hot sun is you can use a rake/garden claw to remove most weeds and leave the sun to do the rest. Once weeds have been disturbed, the sun will dry out most of them however, you will need to remove and dispose of any seed heads.

If you plan to to grow edibles, especially root vegetables like carrots/radish etc. it is better to remove any stones (as a rule I try to remove any bigger than a 25kr coin) from the soil.

Building

It doesn’t have to be expensive to garden.

You can use old pots/plants that have been thrown away and you can build your own bean wigwam (have a look at mine in the photograph below) or other designs for your beans/peas or climbing flowers to climb using the reeds that grow in many open spaces here in Fethiye.

How does your garden grow? Lee's gardening advice - getting started
Lee’s bean wigwam made from dried reeds

Be sure to leave them in the sun for a week or more to dry out before using as they may re-root and you run the risk they will start to grow where you placed them in the ground.

You can also use old plastic lemonade bottles cut in half as cloches to help retain moisture for the more delicate plants, I personally use clear plastic bags on pots when bringing on seeds.

Bee Busy


Using an old milk or juice carton & short lengths of the reeds you can also build your own Bee Beneficial Insect Hotel

How does your garden grow? Lee's gardening advice - getting started
My Bee Beneficial Insect Hotel

Questions

I am by no means an expert gardener.

I learned about gardening whilst enjoying growing the many different flowers and edibles that are out there.

I prefer to grow edibles but have also grown flowers and taken cuttings from established plants to create my own.

Please share your experiences with us and ask any questions you have on gardening. Gardening in a hot climate can present you with many challenges and these articles are here to help you.

If there is something you would particularly like advice on or to know about, we also want to hear from you.

Please visit and join Lee’s Facebook group for more information about gardening and to ask any questions:

An English Gardener in Çalış

Happy Growing

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