It’s not just been about the chickens. It’s been the plan this winter to extend the growing areas and to clear them of nettles, brambles, couch grass, bracken, etc, before planting a lot more trees, shrubs and fruit bushes.
Just below the vineyard is a small terrace which curves round its base. Since New Year I’ve been working on clearing and planting this up to form a new fruit terrace. Well not quite new – there were a small orange tree and a lemon here when I bought the quinta, but nothing else.
The citrus trees struggle in this position. It’s the wrong side of the barroco for winter warmth and the lemon already looks like it’s going to lose all its leaves again after the recent sub zero temperatures, despite the horticultural fleece I’ve used this year. The orange survives and fruits, but the fruits don’t sweeten much and it barely grows, so both trees are destined for transplanting to the terrace below the house where it’s on average 5°C warmer and where they’ll be kept continually moist by grey water from the bath house.
Although citrus trees might struggle, other less cold-sensitive trees and bushes should do just fine. So the surface vegetation has now been taken out – and turned into a compost heap on the terrace to eventually go back down again – and I’ve planted a Williams pear, blackcurrants, jostaberries, gooseberries and goji berries, interspersed with comfrey and lavender for ground cover, and onions, because you can never have enough onions. And because they make good companions for fruit trees.
During the summer – IF it rains before then – the plan is to grow tomatoes off the edge of the front of the terrace and sunflowers and beans along the back against the vineyard terrace wall.
The final part of the terrace has been awaiting clearance until we cleared the top tank of knee-deep sludge, of which more in the next post …