Archive for August, 2011

Flower power

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)

One of the most rewarding aspects of starting to explore polyculture and companion planting in the new raised beds have been the effects of growing flowers – both ones we’ve planted and ones that grew themselves – amongst the vegetables. It’s not just the visual impact of so much colour in the garden. All summer long, the garden has been full of butterflies and bees.


Floorless 2

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

As well as work on the outside of the larger building, we’ve also stripped out the floor in the left half of the building in preparation for reflooring and started cleaning and preserving the chestnut timbers. We stripped the right side of the building last November and it still hasn’t got its new floor yet … ah well … the best laid plans of mice and (wo)men …

In doing so the building revealed more of its life story: something we hadn’t been aware of until letting all this extra light in.

Back wall of larger building



Saturday, August 13th, 2011

After a break of the best part of 3 months, we’ve been able to start work on building renovations again. The first priority is to complete the roof of the larger building. The roof over the main body of the building itself is done, but we need to extend it either end of the building to cover the external staircases, and to butt a lean-to roof up to it along the back of the building before it’s finally finished.

Extending the roof area right round the house in this way will, aside from providing covered walkways, give all round protection to the walls from most direct weather action: a major consideration with dry-stone walls, especially ones that are going to be clay-pointed.

The larger building


Solar outdoor shower

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

The solar shower is finally up and working.

The heating system I first put together in May has proved itself workable. With a few adjustments of radiator position and the purchase of a self-standing garden shower that fits into the garden hose system I’ve used for the pipework, the system gives us enough hot water on a sunny day for anything between 2 (luxurious) and 4 (frugal) showers, but until recently the only way to use it was to stand on the bare earth out in the open. The quinta isn’t a particularly public place, but we all agreed we needed a cubicle to enhance our bathing experience …

Solar shower

A view of the whole system with the cubicle partially complete – radiator, tank above, shower and cubicle


Companion planting

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Back in April when I first documented the planting schemes for the new raised beds, I was busy researching companion planting and mentioned my frustrations – “… One [source] says sow plant C everywhere as it’s the magic bullet of companion planting, another says keep it on its own because it’s allelopathic to many other plants (yes, it really does get that extreme – and plant C is Lovage, Levisticum officinale).”

Lovage (Levisticum officinale) in a companion planting scheme