Archive for June, 2010

This is what’s happening to the oaks

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

A year ago I asked what’s happening to the oaks round these parts. Suddenly around June, the leaves all seem to turn brown and take on a skeletal look. Last year I thought it might be fungal because I couldn’t see evidence of insects, but now that we’re here full time and have the benefit of catching it in the act of happening, this year it’s clear that it’s not.

Oak Flea Beetle larvae feeding on oak leaves

Oak Flea Beetle larvae

Despite searching on Google for oak leaf miners and the like, so far I’ve been unable to identify this pest. Anyone?

Addendum: Thanks to Miguel (comment below) I’ve discovered that this pest is the Oak Flea Beetle (Altica quercetorum). I’ve also noticed that, like many plants subject to insect attack, water stress plays a part. The oaks in wetter parts of the quinta have far less damage, or even none, while the ones in the driest areas have the most damage.

Quinta Life 4 Kids

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Okay, well I wanted to try this out. It’s my new blog for kids to check out. Basically just trying to solve ‘quinta angst’ and hopefully give you all a new way of looking at things when you move to Portugal…

Have a look?! Quinta Life 4 Kids, by Oonagh


Quinta wildlife #9

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Butterflies again! The profusion and variety of them here is a continual delight. I’ve been trying to capture this one (on camera) for a few weeks now. Today one obligingly posed for me on a grapevine. The Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius), so called because it is in the UK, though apparently not here as I’ve spotted several.

Scarce Swallowtail, Iphiclides podalirius, on grape vine leaf


Hydropower progress: the chute

Friday, June 4th, 2010

The next stage in the water wheel construction is nearing completion. Because the ‘engine’ of the system is a permanent magnet generator from a wind turbine, and a water wheel turns much more slowly than a wind turbine, the wheel needs to be linked to the PMG via a gearing system that steps up the number of revolutions. To work out the optimum gear ratio for this installation, we needed to measure the actual rpm the wheel produces at present water volumes. For that to be done, we needed to construct a chute to deliver the water to the wheel.

Present water volumes in the barroco: about 2 litres per second

Present water volumes in the barroco. Not huge. About 2 litres per second.



Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Summer is here and it’s watering time. Even with the few vegetables we have growing this year, watering them is already taking up a good couple of hours every evening. Part of that is to do with the fact that we are mostly watering them with a watering can. I’ve re-opened a couple of irrigation channels to help things along and got them working reasonably well, but it’s still not hugely efficient. I figured we could do better. But what to do?

Today I bought a reel of hosepipe. I knew I had a large funnel somewhere, and a ball of twine. With 15 minutes’ work with the ball of twine, an hour clearing vegetation from the top of the waterfall, a ladder, and a bungy strap, we now have a working irrigation system for the main vegetable bed on the yurt terrace. A bit Heath Robinson, but considerably more efficient than the watering can.

The watering system: source in waterfall