Thu 3 Jun 2010
at DRAPALG,(Direcção de Serviçios de Agricultura e Pescas, Divisão de Apoio à Produção Agrícola) Patacão, FARO.
Web site. www.drapalg.min-agricultura.pt
Our tutor and guide for the day was Enga. Margarida Sofia Jordão Costa. The morning was dedicated to a practical lesson on seed sowing and on taking cuttings. Enga. Margarida demonstrated a standard method for encouraging germination of many seeds in the legume (pea) family. She put seed of Caesalpinnia gillesii into a pyrex dish and poured boiling water over them. The seed can be left until cold before sowing in the normal way. The seed should be sown to their own depth in compost and not buried too deeply in the pot. Seed pots can be soaked, drained, and put into a closed plastic bag to aid germination. This retains moisture on the top level of soil and aids germination.
Cuttings can be taken from non-flowering shoots. Cut stems with approx. three or four leaf nodes, trim excess leaves and bury two leaf nodes in the compost. Hormone rooting powder can be used but Margarida advised storing this in a fridge to prolong storage life. The apical (terminal) bud provides the best chance of a successful rooting. A large heap of lavender cuttings was used to demonstrate the standard method and many were able to take their potential plants home with them.
Lunch was taken in the on site staff canteen. During lunch time there were some books to look at, seed catalogues & seed packets available and the seed box to look through !
In the afternoon we had a guided tour of the gardens and collections of trees on site. DRAPALG is a working site and has many unusual plants and trees in the grounds, the staff are enthusiastic and very knowledgeable. There is a cacti and succulent garden and also an area laid out showing the Algarve coastline with some typical vegetation. There is also a small area with native plants, lavender beds and pomegranate varieties. In flower for our visit was a lovely example of Hymenosporum flavum. There is also a small nursery with trees, shrubs and plants for sale to the public. This site has the laboratory where it is possible to have soil and water samples analysed. Visits from the public or gardening groups are encouraged, please use web site contact above.