Latest news from the quinta

April 28th, 2017. 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

The Hass avocado sapling that came through -10℃ temperatures last winter with just 2 leaves remaining is very far from being dead. ... See MoreSee Less

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The Hass avocado sapling that came through -10℃ temperatures last winter with just 2 leaves remaining is very far from being dead.

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well that's totally encouraging. have two in pots that volunteered in a compost heap that I take in and out of a garage over winter where temps only ever get down to the 30s F with rare exceptions of 10°. How did you keep it?

The greenhouse gets its cover! Well, part of it anyway. The cover has been made in sections so the lower vertical areas of wall and the uppermost pentagon can be removed for summer cooling. It'll also get a shade netting cover to prolong the life of the PVC. ... See MoreSee Less

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The greenhouse gets its cover! Well, part of it anyway. The cover has been made in sections so the lower vertical areas of wall and the uppermost pentagon can be removed for summer cooling. Itll also get a shade netting cover to prolong the life of the PVC.

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Great work by Liam and Esta at Domes in Portugal www.facebook.com/Domes-In-Portugal-115379201900799/

Buckminster Fuller was also a philosopher.....

"All this can be done by you and I. We don’t have to have government. We can’t expect government to do it all anyway. But if we do have some conservation ethics, the result can be mind-boggling."50 Years ago David Bamberger devoted his life to restoring an overgrazed and neglected ranch in the Texas Hill Country. The Result? Water from Stone and an a... ... See MoreSee Less

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Inoculating chestnut logs with shiitake mushroom dowels. Looking forward to this harvest. ... See MoreSee Less

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Inoculating chestnut logs with shiitake mushroom dowels. Looking forward to this harvest.

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Wow cool!

Hi Wendy, just finished this chapter in Sepp Holzer's permaculture and yes the chestnut is good, but the block needs to be healthy and young; No dark or rotting spots. It should not been used before with other fungi. The dowels should be completely fall in the log and to be covered with a twig. This way you protect the fungi not getting dry or that it gets contaminated by bacteria. Also this way you protect the mycelium against snails, birds and mice, who also like to eat mycelium. Hope this can help.

The first bamboo shoots are breaking through! ... See MoreSee Less

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The first bamboo shoots are breaking through!

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Nice, any off shoots going I'd love one or two

I bought mine from specialist UK Bamboo nursery Jungle Giants, since taken over by Bowdens, but still a very good source of information; with a wide variety of both clumping or running types, remembering that some runing types need plenty of space, and can be a problem in the wrong place! www.bowdenhostas.com/categories/Bamboos/

5 days later!

Sing it!

Monsanto Tribunal
Great new song ¨Seeds of Freedom¨ by Manu Chao in support of the struggle for peasant and Seed Freedom and the Monsanto Tribunal.
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I've recently begun experimenting with water kefir. The natural sodas I usually make need 170g sugar per litre and take about 7-10 days to make. With water kefir grains, I need only 35g sugar per litre and the last batch was ready in just 2 days. It was so ready, in fact, that one of the bottles exploded! Which is a shame, because this batch is the best yet. Flavoured with the last of the quinta's oranges and some fresh ginger. Delicious! ... See MoreSee Less

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Ive recently begun experimenting with water kefir. The natural sodas I usually make need 170g sugar per litre and take about 7-10 days to make. With water kefir grains, I need only 35g sugar per litre and the last batch was ready in just 2 days. It was so ready, in fact, that one of the bottles exploded! Which is a shame, because this batch is the best yet. Flavoured with the last of the quintas oranges and some fresh ginger. Delicious!

Comment on Facebook

Well done

New addiction potiential delicious

I'm really enjoying water kefir too, a great find and wholesome too!

Wendy. Could you please share the recipe? I've got kafir grains but haven't found a recipe with little sugar like yours. Thank you in advance,

Have yet to aquire water Kefir, keep promising myself: I do have 2 Kefir always on the go, one of cows milk, one of goats milk, from an original gift some 6 years ago, it only gets better.

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Developments on the main building! The balcony railings designed by me and made by local blacksmith Latifa Sayadi finally got fitted into place yesterday. (Yes I know Health and Safety would have a fit, but sometimes you've got to step outside of fear-filled conformity and do something because the context demands it.) ... See MoreSee Less

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Developments on the main building! The balcony railings designed by me and made by local blacksmith Latifa Sayadi finally got fitted into place yesterday. (Yes I know Health and Safety would have a fit, but sometimes youve got to step outside of fear-filled conformity and do something because the context demands it.)

Comment on Facebook

Looks great.. i bet some birds will use them as a stand

Love them.

They look amazing!

Yup. Totally Cody safe 🙄🙈

Stunning

Organic.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 vermicomposting 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

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Waterworks completed

May 1st, 2014. Post by Quinta do Vale

Among many other projects on the go simultaneously last summer was the installation of some water storage capacity and supply lines to the various buildings on the quinta. The design and layout gives a good head of gravity-fed water to all parts of the quinta, and provides buffering for the vagaries of daily stream flow in late summer. The two tanks constructed from pre-cast concrete rings were fairly quick to construct. Finishing them proved more of a problem.

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A wood-burning masonry cookstove

April 26th, 2014. Post by Quinta do Vale

Ach! Where does the time go? I’m so hopelessly behind with blog posts and there are now so many pending I scarcely know where to start. I just checked the last post I made about the outdoor kitchen for the wee house and it was a year ago!

Alongside the cob bread/pizza oven I built last spring (and which is now producing fabulous food), I also constructed a wood-burning masonry cookstove. I found an open source Sketchup model online and adapted it for Portuguese fire brick dimensions.

Sketchup model for wood burning cook stove

This is the adapted model. Click on the image to download the Sketchup file and open in Sketchup (3D modelling software which is free to download). Firebricks are colour-coded for different lengths. You’ll need to be reasonably proficient with an angle grinder (at the least) to build this stove.

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Timber-framed grey water-processing greenhouse – part 2

February 14th, 2014. Post by Quinta do Vale

The last post on this build finished with the laying of the chestnut ring beam which forms the base of this sweet chestnut timber frame construction. The next part was to raise the main supporting structure.

Splitting out braces with a small axe

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