Gardeners Visit to COATO Co-operative

On May 9th a group of 30 gardeners visited the COATO cooperative in Totana. After dressing up in white coats and fashionable hats we followed Conchi into the almond processing plant. Here the local farmers bring their crop to be turned into powder, slithers or whole almonds.

We then moved into the paprika area, where we learnt that the ñora pimientos are firstly dried by the farmers, either in the sun (rare nowadays) or in giant ovens owned by various cooperatives. COATO then extracts most of the seeds, leaving a few, because they help to extend the shelf life of the paprika. We then had a tasting to demonstrate the difference between Chinese and Murcian paprika.coato visit

Then we visited the packing area, where that day, they were packing broccoli. Most of the boxes were destined for the UK, some were organic, some were not.

Lastly we visited the Bio Shop, where most of us found something interesting to buy, and then Conchi presented all of us with a carrier bag full of COATO goodies.

This interesting visit was followed by an excellent lunch at the adjacent restaurant.

Darwinian Gardeners Coach Trip to Ceiza


A large group of Darwinian Gardeners joined the coach for a trip to the Floración in Cieza. We were met in Cieza by Pepe who was our excellent guide for the morning. We drove through miles of orchards of stone fruit, peaches, apricots and plums. Sadly the blossom was almost finished, and the fruit was starting to form. We learnt that the bales of straw smoking between the trees is to protect them from frost, and learnt that there are three other methods of protection; in some fields there were what looked like paint cans, which were in fact little heaters, in other fields the heaters were suspended up above the trees, and tarpaulins are pulled over to keep the heat in, and then there were systems of atomisers to coat the blossoms in water, which when frozen protects them from temperatures of below zero.

We were impressed by all the manual work involved, firstly thinning the emerging fruit, then picking it and later pruning the trees. Workers come from Morocco, South America and, of course, Spain.

At 12:30 we arrived at the Visitor Centre where Pepe gave a small talk about the history of the peach tree, before some of us sat down for lunch. Due to a lack of chairs half of us lunched standing up. An endless supply of grilled sausages, lots of bread, tomato relish and apricot jam made up a typical farmer’s lunch.

Next month we will be visiting COATO to learn about the production of paprika, almond and olive products. If you would like to join the Gardening Club, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Darwinian Gardeners Brewery Visit

Bizantian Micro Brewery

The Darwinian Gardeners visited the Bizantina Micro Brewery on Saturday 4th March.


We gathered outside in a chilly wind while Luisa told us all about the brewery. Including the interesting fact that Guinness was discovered by accident when the barley was burnt. The beer master couldn’t bear to throw the barley away and used it anyway – the result was Guinness.


We also learnt that the barley is imported, mostly from Germany and the hops come from the UK. Then in small groups, (it really is a ‘micro’ brewery) we were taken to see the production line.


There are just two people employed here, the owner William, from Columbia and his Spanish assistant Luisa. They brew the beer and then bottle it by hand. It is possible to buy the beer, a pale ale or a lager in el Corte Ingles and drink it various bars in Cartagena. Although it is more expensive than the usual mass produced beers, it is certainly worth giving it a try.


When we finished tasting the lager and the pale ale we drove into the centre to the Bar/Restaurant Los Mineros where we had an excellent lunch.  


Darwinian Gardeners first 2017 Outing

On February 4th, a group of 28 of us visited José’s nursery in La Majada in order to buy bedding plants. Almost all of us came away with more plants than we had intended to buy. It was so hard to resist popping yet another colourful plant into one’s box.
Back at the bar Puente in the village Andrew Brown hosted a question and answer session. There were many interesting questions, and I’m sure we all learnt something new.
This was followed by a very good lunch, and lots of lively conversation. The raffle raised over €50 which will go towards the Lions’ “Inoculate against Measles in the Third World” Program

 Darwinian Gardeners November Outing

Gardeners November Outing


On Saturday 26 November fifty two members of the Darwinian Gardeners made their way to San Pedro de Pinitar for our annual pre Christmas visit to a poinsetta nursery. The sight when entering the greenhouses was amazing and the effect of so many poinsettas in one place was really lovely, plus in the smaller greenhouses were poinsetta plants of different colours, although we were advised that these do not sell very well to the Spanish market as red is the colour of choice. The week following our visit the nursery was getting ready to ship 400,000 plants to Madrid and they were especially proud last year that plants were sent to the royal palace.

Lots of plants were purchased by the group at very good prices before making our way to the Chino Big House restaurant in San Javier, which was easy as you only had to follow a car with poinsetta plants on the back seat. Everyone had a very good lunch and four lucky people won raffle prizes.