Latest news from the quinta

December 3rd, 2016. Post by Quinta do Vale

This blog tends to feature often lengthy and mostly fairly detailed descriptions of the work here. Shorter updates, anecdotes, comments, photos, links and more get posted to Facebook. Keep up with us directly on Facebook or via the feed below.

Quinta do Vale

Quinta do Vale shared De tudo um pouco's video.

De tudo um pouco
Oh yeah! Winter project number 2!!
... See MoreSee Less

Impressionante as invenções deste senhor, não gasta energia e ainda faz exercícios (Y)

1

Rui Miguel, Sebastián Domínguez and 23 others like this

Gail Hartomg i want one

1
Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Quinta do Vale added a new photo to the album Vermicomposting flush toilets.

Vermicomposting toilets seem to be speedily becoming the 'in' thing. Now the câmara municipal of Oliveira do Hospital want to talk to us and there are mutterings about radio and TV. Gulp!

This photo is of a worm tank newly filled and readied for its first use at Quinta do Doutor. The worms (from Quinta do Vale's system) in the compost they've created are the uppermost layer. The food scraps are to feed them while they settle into their new home.
... See MoreSee Less

2

Vermicomposting toilets seem to be speedily becoming the in thing. Now the câmara municipal of Oliveira do Hospital want to talk to us and there are mutterings about radio and TV. Gulp!

This photo is of a worm tank newly filled and readied for its first use at Quinta do Doutor. The worms (from Quinta do Vales system) in the compost theyve created are the uppermost layer. The food scraps are to feed them while they settle into their new home.

Shahnaz Radjy, Leon Hitge-Wood and 21 others like this

Michelle SheridanGood work! Looking forward to installing ours in spring... Did you order in worms ?

2

1 Reply

Avatar

Debbie Parsonswould love to come on a workshop if you are doing any next april/may time? :)

2

1 Reply

Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Quinta do Vale at Quinta do Vale.

If different species can all get along so well together, why can't humans? Delighting in my quinta companions in these troubling times - they trump the lot. New kitten Milo fitting in just grand.
... See MoreSee Less

3

If different species can all get along so well together, why cant humans? Delighting in my quinta companions in these troubling times - they trump the lot. New kitten Milo fitting in just grand.

Louise Gordon, Shahnaz Radjy and 23 others like this

Michelle Sheridanaw welcome to new kitten -big cats being nice?

3

2 Replies

Avatar

Cyril WilsonTrump? Sorry it looms large. Are those chickens trying to cross the border... Your kitten experiance is pretty cool, my 2 whom came into my life as feral kittens, even after 4 years don't seem able to trust anyone nor anything different, me they love, I think, yea they do. lol

2
Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Quinta do Vale shared Quinta do Doutor's Quinta do Doutor.

Quinta do Doutor
Since we didn't get to finish the vermicomposting flush toilet system at Quinta do Doutor last weekend, we're postponing completion to allow those that couldn't make the last one to attend a second workshop on December 3rd. This will follow the same format and this time we'll get the system connected up and working.
... See MoreSee Less

Absolutely adore providing a place for people to learn and laugh <3

3

Quinta do Vale shared Quinta do Doutor's post.

Some images from yesterday's workshop ...
... See MoreSee Less

Yesterday's Vermicomposting Toilet Workshop with Wendy Howard www.vermicompostingtoilets.net

3

Some images from yesterdays workshop ...

Sadb Ingen Chonchobair, Johanna Cunha and 6 others like this

Ute Wildthank you for sharing <3

3
Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Quinta do Vale added a new photo to the album Vermicomposting flush toilets.

Many thanks to everyone who came to today's Vermicomposting Flush Toilet workshop at Quinta do Doutor, Fornos de Algodres. What a great bunch of people! Go worms!
... See MoreSee Less

3

Many thanks to everyone who came to todays Vermicomposting Flush Toilet workshop at Quinta do Doutor, Fornos de Algodres. What a great bunch of people! Go worms!

Sophie Kempin, Trude Sargeant and 15 others like this

Ingrid Maria Canoawesome!!! well done!!

3
Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Quinta do Vale at Quinta do Vale.

The unexpected delights of using natural soil improvements. We spread some goat manure on the bathroom's green roof last Spring. Obviously the goats had been enjoying some squash. But someone needs to tell these squash plants that it's the wrong time of year to be germinating ...
... See MoreSee Less

4

The unexpected delights of using natural soil improvements. We spread some goat manure on the bathrooms green roof last Spring. Obviously the goats had been enjoying some squash. But someone needs to tell these squash plants that its the wrong time of year to be germinating ...

Sophie Kempin, Sadb Ingen Chonchobair and 23 others like this

Cyril WilsonNature will take a hand if you are experiancing the same cool, no, cold, weather we're getting 20k south east of Coimbra.

4
Avatar

Michelle Sheridanroof is looking so well established now ...loverly :)

4
Avatar

Veronica Balfour PaulI must sling some earth/dung up on my roof. At the moment it is only straw, which rots down to nothing so quickly. It has some plants growing in it... but not like this!

4   ·  1

1 Reply

Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Duck ponds

May 15th, 2016. Post by Quinta do Vale

With the building of a duck house, there had to be a duck pond to go with it. or, as it happened, two duck ponds.

In addition to being ponds for ducks, these ponds also form part of the general water-retention strategy for the quinta. The aim is to slow the passage of water through this steep land and spread it as far as possible from the stream, allowing it to infiltrate and hydrate the soils. This promotes the growth of the vegetation which is so essential in improving the soils here. Vegetation decomposes to provide soil carbon. Without soil carbon, these thin soils haven’t a hope of holding onto moisture (or much of their biota) through the hot dry summer months. Irrigation becomes necessary. But build up soil carbon levels enough and eventually irrigation needs are minimal, even zero. So in order to make irrigation unnecessary, it’s initially necessary (at least if any kind of speed is required).

Back to the duck ponds. Or maybe duck puddles would be more accurate. They’re barely large enough to be worthy of the word pond, though they’re more than adequate to keep a couple of ducks happy.

Inlet for the second duck pond

Read the rest of this entry »

Ponds four years on

May 12th, 2016. Post by Quinta do Vale

It’s been quite a saga, this business of creating unlined ponds. I particularly wanted unlined ponds, because their principal purpose is to provide hydration for their surroundings in the course of slowing the passage of water through the quinta. But as I’ve learned, it takes a while for them to stabilise. There are six of them; two sets of two on the top and bottom terraces above and below the yurt terrace, and another pair of very small duck ponds on the bottom terrace. Small ponds – which these all are due to limitations of terrace width and slope – are much more sensitive to small perturbations.

Spillway between the ponds on the bottom terrace

Spillway between the ponds on the bottom terrace

Read the rest of this entry »

Subterranean heating & cooling system

May 11th, 2016. Post by Quinta do Vale

The previous post on the geodesic dome greenhouse outlined the logic in choosing a dome for this site and how it was by far the better option for fitting in all the things I wanted to have in this greenhouse. These include an aquaponics system and a bathroom as well as growing space for tropical and frost-tender fruits and vegetables, seed growing areas, a rocket-stove water heater and a worm farm – a fair bit to cram into an area measuring just 7x5m at the outset.

Geodesic dome greenhouse frame

I also wanted to build in a subterranean heating & cooling system (SHCS) to make even better use of all the thermal mass present in the solid bedrock floor and back wall. This is a proven low-tech solution for maintaining comfortable temperatures and humidity levels in the greenhouse year round. It can minimise or even eliminate the need for supplementary heating or cooling.

Read the rest of this entry »

Geodesic dome greenhouse

May 8th, 2016. Post by Quinta do Vale

Back in July 2012 we dug a chunk out of the mountainside in preparation for a ferrocement rainwater harvesting tank. Plans for the tank were later shelved due to budget constraints, but a good use for the site was never in doubt. It’s one of the few parts of the quinta to have sun at winter solstice, so was perfect for a greenhouse.

Geodesic dome greenhouse site

Read the rest of this entry »

Extreme weather

April 21st, 2016. Post by Quinta do Vale

People don’t seem very geared up for rain in Portugal, preferring umbrellas to raincoats. It’s not as if the rainfall in Central Portugal isn’t respectable either – the annual average for this area is 1040mm or thereabouts (depending on source). Amazingly, it’s even slightly more than where I used to live in the Scottish Borders. The difference is it falls over an average of 120 days, not 300 or so.

Portuguese wet weather gear

Portuguese wet weather gear

The early part of winter was unusually dry and warm. I had tobacco and freesia in flower in December and nectarines in blossom in January! But with the turn of the year, the rain finally arrived. In early February we had 10% of our annual average rainfall here over the course of one weekend.

Read the rest of this entry »

Poultry rethink and a duck house

March 23rd, 2016. Post by Quinta do Vale

As those who’ve followed us on Facebook for a while will know, our 4 hens were massacred in July 2014 by ‘free range’ local dogs. Although the hens were kept in a secure compound which not even the foxes had managed to get into, these dogs succeeded in opening the fastening on the gate, broke it down and got in. I found the bodies of two of the hens. The other two were taken. They were only 2½ years old and at the peak of their laying. It was a sad loss.

Quinta hens

It was all the more upsetting considering the effort put into building a really secure compound for them. I’d catered for large ‘free range’ dogs in building the compound, but not ones with door-opening skills. This forced a major rethink on how I was to keep and protect poultry going forward. It came back again to the initial conundrum I’d faced.

Read the rest of this entry »

Swaleage

August 3rd, 2015. Post by Quinta do Vale

It’s been a long time since this blog was last updated. Those keeping up with us on Facebook will have some inkling of what’s been going on at the quinta in the meantime, but I’ve failed dismally at getting to the more detailed documentation of it all. Mostly a case of too busy doing the doing to be reporting the doing …

Following the successful implementation of a swale system on the bottom terrace last year, this last Spring I put in a similar system on the terrace above it. It’s a narrow terrace with very similar problems to the one below it – soil so dry in summer it barely supported a few fruit trees (which consequently dropped most of their fruit before it got anywhere near ripe) amongst grasses and wildflowers which would be dry and dead by July. In summer, the soil turned to dust in your hand and blew away.

Mid fruit terrace

The terrace when we first saw the quinta in November 2008 – a few neglected fruit trees and a lot of encroaching bracken

Mid fruit terrace

The same terrace in May last year – a few more fruit trees, a lot less bracken, but still a largely barren terrace

Read the rest of this entry »

A dining area for the wee house

November 12th, 2014. Post by Quinta do Vale

Following on from the completion of the kitchen at the wee house, the next step was to create a dining area. The terrace in front of the house on the lower level was the logical place for this – lovely views through the olive trees down to the village and across the valley, and grapes vines already planted and just asking for a trellis to grow over to create a shaded seating area. Plus it had already been identified as a fine place to sit …

The wee house dining area

Read the rest of this entry »

Swales

November 11th, 2014. Post by Quinta do Vale

Swales – level ditches dug to follow the contours of the land – are one of the principal ingredients of permaculture earthworks which are, by and large, recipes for catching and holding rainwater runoff and encouraging it to slowly infiltrate the soil rather than being lost to the nearest river. Because they’re level, swales don’t channel the water away but hold it in situ until it soaks into the soil. They can be dug to any sort of scale and used alone or, as part of an integrated water catchment system over an entire property, in combination with other elements like ponds, infiltration basins and dams.

Bottom ponds

On narrow terraces and steep mountain slopes with thin soils – ie. here – swales are not something you can use on a large scale, but they can still be useful. When I dug the lower ponds, the effect on the ability of the surrounding soil to support abundant growth was immediate and impressive, but it didn’t extend too far along the terrace. Just 2 metres away the soil was so dry in summer it barely supported a few grasses and wildflowers and would turn to dust in your hand and blow away. So after working out the contours of the terrace, I decided to extend the area of hydration much further along by using the ponds to feed small swales.

Read the rest of this entry »

Yurt makeover

October 5th, 2014. Post by Quinta do Vale

The yurt has been my home for 5 years now. It’s stood up to the extremes of Portuguese weather reasonably well, especially after building a porch to protect the doorway (4 years ago) and covering it with shade netting to stop the canvas disintegrating in the sun (3 years ago). It’s settled nicely into the landscape and as the gardens mature around it, is becoming less and less obtrusive.

The yurt becoming part of the landscape

Read the rest of this entry »