Latest news from the quinta

July 5th, 2015. 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 at QuinQuinta do Vale

The first apricots from trees I planted.
... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

View on Facebook

Cyril Wilson, Liz Chapa and 23 others like this

View previous comments

Kit AcottWhat a joy ☺

1 week ago   ·  1
Avatar

Karina SzilagyiI bet they taste amazing! :-)

1 week ago
Avatar

Oliver SwannHow many years was it before you got fruit Wendy?

1 week ago
Avatar

吳麗蘭哇哇哇(wow)!!!

1 week ago
Avatar

Suzann MannBeautiful. Our winter was so cold, flowered but never a fruit

7 days ago
Avatar

Liz Fraser-HitchLook lovely and not pestered by ant like our I hope!

7 days ago
Avatar

Jane Byrdhow long ago did you plant, how big was it when planted? yuuuuumm....

7 days ago
Avatar

Chris YoungThey look good. Could you dry some and send them over here :-)

7 days ago   ·  1
Avatar

Jane Byrdi self seeded one a month ago...its begun to sprout!!..qunita do vale is that you andrea? my internet must be slow didt get that message,,..

6 days ago
Avatar

Eluzabeth Jane Rosson NewtonWe got peaches and apricots nearly ready in Sobral . Still juicing oranges from last year . Newley learning what we have on our terraces , would love to come a say hello soon .

6 days ago
Avatar

Manon TetraultWow Ana amazing😊

6 days ago
Avatar

Cyril WilsonMe too, although the Jays took a liking to them, likewise cherries although that was the Blackbirds. When I visited a Portuguese friend, he mentioned a foul smelling liquid that he puts into bottles to hang from his trees, which apparently deters the birds, but I cant remember what the liquid was called.

5 days ago
Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Quinta do Vale at QuinQuinta do Vale

The new duck house.
... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago

View on Facebook

Mara Rara, Manuel Ribeiro and 23 others like this

Kate MacLeanwhere's the moat (haha) - it looks cosy!

3 weeks ago   ·  2
Avatar

Oh KayWow belo belo

3 weeks ago
Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Quinta do Vale at QuinQuinta do Vale

Turning problems into opportunities - a terrace wall collapse on its way to becoming a new set of steps.
... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago

View on Facebook

Quinta do Vale at QuinQuinta do Vale

The first of the heirloom climbing peas. The variety is 'Lord Leicester', a traditional British pea brought back from the verge of extinction. These delicious peas grow to about 2m and keep producing over a long period. They're grown from last year's seed and are better, more vigorous plants this year. The more plants adapt to a place, the better they get.
... See MoreSee Less

4 weeks ago

View on Facebook

Hugo Berenguilho Madeira, Greg Horsfall and 23 others like this

吳麗蘭So beautiful

4 weeks ago
Avatar

Mara RaraAah we have something really similar. Whar are the white marks on the leaves ? We had it also and was wondering whether its some kind of mildew, or it belongs to the plants ? Cause aswell is really vigourous, weve been eating them since half or evenbeginning of april!

4 weeks ago   ·  1
Avatar

Rene Etz'nabhé i've got a same kind of bean, also with similar white marks on the leaves, but i guess it's whether normal or sunburn.

4 weeks ago   ·  1
Avatar

Mara RaraIts a pea ! I was thinking this aswell, butjean was wondering wether it was mildew, cause the bush where we eat from in april didnt had it but i thought it was the same pea!

4 weeks ago
Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Quinta do Vale at QuinQuinta do Vale

Breakfast berries. Bush to bowl in the time it takes to pick them, stone the cherries and hull the strawberries. 100% organic. This is one of the (many) reasons I do what I do.
... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago

View on Facebook

Absalom Voist, Jenny Poulin and 23 others like this

View previous comments

Kate MacLeanNon nom

1 month ago   ·  1
Avatar

Emily BurnsLooks amazing!

1 month ago   ·  1
Avatar

Elizabeth BiagiEnjoy, Wendy.

1 month ago   ·  1
Avatar

Cyril WilsonAfter waiting 4 years this was my first year with a sizeable cherry crop, and every Blackbird around came to feast; despite decorating the tree with shiny foil, they just thought it was Christmas, now the Raspberries, luckily I noticed the Birds interest and have netted, although Blueberries are still vulnerable there are not enough to quibble over. Love your breakfast; I have mine with Goats milk Kefir.

1 month ago   ·  1
Avatar

Suzann MannNice

1 month ago   ·  1
Avatar

Caroline MichelleLooks delicious! What about black currants - how do they do in Portugal?

1 month ago
Avatar

Caroline MichelleGreat. Black currants are my favourites. Here in Sweden they are two months away :/ Enjoy!

1 month ago
Avatar

Caroline SinclairLook so delicious I can almost taste them. X

1 month ago
Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Quinta do Vale at QuinQuinta do Vale

The sweet cherries are wonderful this year and with some young trees on the quinta producing well for the first time as well as the older ones, there's far more than we can eat fresh. This lot produced 4 litres of juice.There's another bowlful in the fridge awaiting transformation into ice cream and cherry soda. Still more will go into a bottle of bagaço for cherry liqueur (ready for Christmas). Jam? Well I still have most of the jam I made last year (not a big jam eater). Anyone got any favourite cherry recipes they'd like to share?
... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago

View on Facebook

Jenny Poulin, Janice Satterwhite and 23 others like this

View previous comments

Richard MorganCan you make cherry wine?

1 month ago   ·  1
Avatar

Karina SzilagyiI am extremely jealous! Our trees are still too young to produce. Make cherry pies, damplings and cherry syrup. You could freeze all this.

1 month ago   ·  1
Avatar

Karina SzilagyiRecipe for dumplings. I used to love them as a kid. :-) www.enjoyyourcooking.com/main-dish-recipes/ukrainian-sour-cherry-dumplings.html

1 month ago   ·  1
Avatar

Pedro Leitãoi would love to try cherrybagaço!ready for Natal?i'll be there, ohohoh... :)

1 month ago   ·  1
Avatar

Elena Milà Fortunydried cherries :)

1 month ago   ·  1
Avatar

Suzana Correia da Silvayou could glaze them in a sugar syrup and then dry them. fetch a high price at market as a 'healthy treat'.

1 month ago   ·  1
Avatar

Suzann Manntime to barter or sell some jam

1 month ago   ·  1
Avatar

Kit AcottIn looking at your gorgeous stove arrangement, can you post a pic showing the front? My favourite is cherry cordial, great with almond liqueur on a winters night when one longs for early summer.

1 month ago   ·  1
Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Quinta do Vale at QuinQuinta do Vale

As each year goes by, the yurt terrace gardens mature a little more. The fertility increases in the beds so plants grow strong and vigorous. The yurt becomes increasingly less visible as the surrounding vegetation gets taller and bushier. It's hard to think of anything more rewarding than to be part of this process.
... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago

View on Facebook

Christine Gill, Eddie Gill and 23 others like this

Michelle Sheridanspot the doglet :)

1 month ago   ·  2
Avatar

Lambrini KatesAlex Amaro check this out. From your homeland

1 month ago
Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Quinta do Vale added 2 new photos to the album: Water!

What we have and how we use it
... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago

What we have and how we use it

Quinta do Vale at QuinQuinta do Vale

Time to harvest some Angelica ...
... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

View on Facebook

Joao Luis Canelhas Chaves, Lynne Smyth and 9 others like this

Davey Jones-CrockettWhat will you do with it? Intrigued!

2 months ago
Avatar

Quinta do ValeCandy the stems. But the leaves have been used as a substitute for hops in making beer, so I'm also interested in making some sodas using them.

2 months ago
Avatar

Davey Jones-CrockettInteresting! You have inspired me to candy some :-) Would be interested to hear how the sodas go.... Good luck!

1 month ago
Avatar

Comment on Facebook

Quinta do Vale added 2 new photos to the album: Water! — with Katie McGuire and 3 others.

What we have and how we use it
... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

What we have and how we use it

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 »

Sourdough bread

October 4th, 2014. Post by Quinta do Vale

After accidentally discovering natural sodas, I’ve been keen to explore natural fermentation more. Sourdough bread was an obvious development. I already bake most of the bread eaten here and like to have a variety.

Making sourdough bread is a fascinating, rewarding, exasperating and infuriating process, frequently all at once. It’s never the same from one bake to the next, especially when you live most of your life outside and use a wood-fired oven. It takes a lot longer than making bread with fresh or dried yeast, and the way the starter behaves is very dependent on prevailing ambient temperatures, not to mention changes in the natural yeast population, so with the more unpredictable weather this summer, more than once I was caught out by a cooler-than-expected day which threw all my timings. As I learned more and more with every batch, each time I’d start the process thinking “this time I’ll nail it!” and each time I’d be proved wrong.

For a good while I thought this was down to my inexperience with it, but then I learned from the son of an Australian baker and sourdough specialist that it’s always like this and after 30 years he feels he’s only now properly getting to master it. Yet there is a reward in the process, let alone the taste of the final product, that goes beyond the occasional frustration. It is very definitely worth it.

Sourdough bread baked in the cob oven

Read the rest of this entry »

Refrigeration

September 10th, 2014. Post by Quinta do Vale

I had been thinking for some time on how to tackle the issue of refrigeration on the quinta. An early experiment hadn’t been encouraging. It’s all very well using a zeer pot for a few items (I have one in the yurt made from 2 large plant pots), but when there’s volunteers or guests staying, it’s a lot less practical. I found myself torn between the desire the keep it low tech and cool things naturally, and having the convenience of somewhere I could easily store more sensitive foods like meat and even indulge in the occasional ice cream. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but I have two cats and a dog who do. With the price of pet food rising while the quality plummets, I’d also been thinking about making my own animal food. This would be a lot more tricky without a fridge.

Zeer pot used for refrigeration in the yurt

Read the rest of this entry »

Wild carrot jelly

August 21st, 2014. Post by Quinta do Vale

This summer, the terraces are covered in wild carrot – Daucus carota or Bishop’s Lace, Queen Anne’s Lace. This is the original plant from which our familiar domesticated carrots are descended. Slightly ironic then that it should grow in such profusion here when I’ve yet to harvest a decent crop of carrots, but that’s down to the voles getting in there before me rather than any failure of the plants to grow.

In the process of investigating the properties of wild carrot, I discovered some recipes for a jelly made with it. (I try to learn all I can about the wild plants which appear here – dismissing them as ‘weeds’ just because I didn’t plant them seems little short of wilful disregard of a natural treasury bordering on insanity.) The jelly sounded intriguing. I had to give it a try.

Daucus carota or wild carrot growing on the terraces

Read the rest of this entry »

Redcurrant recipes

July 17th, 2014. Post by Quinta do Vale

The trouble with turning fruit gluts into sweet preserves is that I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth and neither, it seems, do most people who stay here. So the store room shelves are usually very well stocked with jams and jellies that are often 2-3 years old because I made such large batches. Recently I’ve taken to making smaller batches, and increasing the variety in both the number of jams and jellies I make and in what I do with the fruit. This has been a lot more successful in actually getting things eaten. So here are the redcurrant recipes used this year …

Redcurrants

Read the rest of this entry »

A portable rocket stove

July 2nd, 2014. Post by Quinta do Vale

A year or so ago I salvaged a couple of tin cans from the local dump. From the moment I laid eyes on them they were shouting “portable rocket stove!”. They’ve sat around waiting for me to find the time and inclination to put them together ever since, but a friend moving onto a nearby quinta with no cooking facilities finally spurred me into action. In my head, I’d already worked out exactly how the stove was to be made, so it took very little time to assemble. In fact, it all happened so quickly, I didn’t even get any ‘before’ photos.

Making a portable rocket stove out of junk

Read the rest of this entry »

We are crowdfunding!

June 18th, 2014. Post by Quinta do Vale

This video explains …

And the campaign is hosted here.

The vermicomposting flush toilet completed

June 8th, 2014. Post by Quinta do Vale

Last year I wrote about our installation of a vermicompositing flush toilet – a worm composting system for a conventional flush toilet – in the outhouse for the wee house. It was all ready and set to go for a good while, minus the worms, but we couldn’t start using it until we had a water supply to the wee house since there would be nothing to flush with until we did.

With the completion of the quinta’s water storage and distribution system in February, I could at last commission the system.

Outhouse toilet featuring a composting flush toilet

Read the rest of this entry »