Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way


Summer is here and it’s watering time. Even with the few vegetables we have growing this year, watering them is already taking up a good couple of hours every evening. Part of that is to do with the fact that we are mostly watering them with a watering can. I’ve re-opened a couple of irrigation channels to help things along and got them working reasonably well, but it’s still not hugely efficient. I figured we could do better. But what to do?

Today I bought a reel of hosepipe. I knew I had a large funnel somewhere, and a ball of twine. With 15 minutes’ work with the ball of twine, an hour clearing vegetation from the top of the waterfall, a ladder, and a bungy strap, we now have a working irrigation system for the main vegetable bed on the yurt terrace. A bit Heath Robinson, but considerably more efficient than the watering can.

The watering system: source in waterfall

The other end of the watering system

(Ah yes. The knee support. Another injury. This one a result of a well-aimed strike by heel of teenage daughter in teenage strop who’d just been made to laugh. Much against her will, of course. The support bandage is helping with cruciate ligament damage …)

Our lettuces have been struggling to develop. It’s a bit too hot now and they’re getting so fried during the day it’s stunting their growth. Before putting in the effort to dig a whole new bed for them in a shadier location (not good for damaged knees), I reckoned it was worth trying a local solution to the summer sun: shading by bracken. The fronds pull up very easily and with a snip of the secateurs, their stems can be shaped into straight points which push into the soil. Bracken gets such a bad press, it’s nice to find a good use for it.

Bracken shading

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