Archive for October, 2011


Monday, October 31st, 2011

I have been thinking for a while now about ways to retain water for longer in its passage through the quinta. Not just for irrigation purposes, but to increase the range of environments we have for growing and to support a greater diversity of wildlife. The extent to which we can emulate strategies like Sepp Holzer’s at the Krameterhof and Tamera is constrained by the vastly smaller amount of land we have to work with, not to mention the topography and difficulty of access, but even on a much smaller scale, the principles ought to be similar.

Water flowing into a pond


Benfeita Wholefood Coop

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Benfeita Wholefood Coop

A few of us in Benfeita have got together to form a wholefood coop. Anyone within what you regard as a reasonable distance of Benfeita (where the orders will be delivered) is welcome to join.


Pine wilt nematode

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Pine wilt nematode in Maritime pine

This is the view from the top of the track down to the larger building on the quinta. In many ways it encapsulates the nature of the “Green Heart of Portugal” – forested mountain ranges cut deep by meandering river valleys, peppered with tiny white villages perched on mountain ridges, surrounded by land terraced and richly cultivated with olives, vines, fruit trees, vegetables … Idyllic.

But it encapsulates something else about the Green Heart of Portugal too – an ecological disaster-in-the-making presently taking hold in Portugal’s forests. The tree on the left is dying.


October garden

Friday, October 7th, 2011

A month ago we were all nodding our heads sagely and predicting an early autumn as night-time temperatures headed down towards woodstove range and rainclouds gathered. Suddenly the valley was full of the sound of chainsaws and axes as everyone scrambled to get their firewood ready for winter, blocking and chopping the lengths of timber cut earlier in the year and left to dry. We haven’t lit the woodstove yet, but I dug out the winter quilt.

That was a month ago. After a very brief rainy interlude, it was back to summer again. On recent evenings it’s still been 20°C at 10pm with the yurt roof open to clear skies and the garden is showing few signs yet of slowing down for winter. If anything, we have more peppers and tomatoes coming on now than we did in August and September.

The yurt terrace vegetable garden at the beginning of October

The yurt terrace vegetable garden at the beginning of October


Climate change weirdness?

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Shouldn’t someone be telling this bracken it’s October, not April? Bracken is a perennial fern, but the fronds generally emerge in the spring and die off in autumn. I’ve never seen this before.