Archive for September, 2011

Stairs finished

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Following on from the last post on the subject – and a bit overdue since they’ve been completed at least a couple of weeks now – we have finished the stairs on both sides of the building. This makes 3 sides of the building now protected from the weather by an extra overhang. All that remains now is to complete a lean-to roof along the back wall, dig a large drain into the bedrock behind it, and we should have a substantially watertight building … even without all the windows and doors.

Outside stairwell on schist dry stone building

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Quinta wildlife #12

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

I mentioned elsewhere what an enormous difference the presence of flowers in the vegetable garden this year has made to the number and varieties of butterflies we’ve seen. Considering that the number and variety here is, even without flowers, comparable to a profusion and diversity that’s not been present in the UK for a good 40 years, then perhaps you can begin to grasp what a wonder this year has been.

Yellow swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon)

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Mangelwurzels

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Our lack of seed-raising facilities at the moment, coupled with a desire to learn how the Portuguese organise their planting calendar, has this year taken me to the weekly markets on a regular basis to see what seedlings they’re selling. It’s a safe bet there’ll be lettuce and cabbages. They’ve been a steady fixture from January right through to September. But it’s the other stuff that’s intrigued me. Sometimes you have to look quite carefully for it. At other times every stall is full of it, but for a couple of weeks and no more.

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Year of the Peach

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Many things distinguish this year, but I think on balance it will have to go down as the Year of the Peach.

Peaches and butternut squash

Here are a few, along with a few butternut squash, from this morning’s harvest.

Companion planting update

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

In a previous post, I described what happened with my inadvertent experiment with lovage (Levisticum officinale) as a companion plant. We found that the broccoli planted around it grew twice the size of other nearby broccoli plants.

Lovage surrounded by broccoli

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Vegetable garden update

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

A week or so ago the weather turned autumnal and we had our first decent rainfall since early June. (Yes, friends and family in Scotland, read that and weep! Smug? Who, me?) A thorough watering and a few cloudy days completely revitalised the vegetable garden, emphasising again that adequate watering and shading are keys to successful growing here.

Yurt terrace vegetable garden

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Simeon’s steps

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

The terraces on this quinta are well connected by sloping ramps and dozens of schist stone staircases, but the route we use most frequently between yurt and car has, until now, involved a scramble up a slope using damson trees as handrails. It’s not that we’re deliberately perverse; it’s the quickest and most direct route and half of the slope is already staired with a good set of steps. Quite why the steps run out half way I have no idea, but completing them has been on the job list for a good while.

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