Permaculturing in Portugal

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

Wraps off

Today I took the horticultural fleece off the citrus trees. Not that the danger of frost is past, but it felt like the right time to do it. It’s warming up now and Spring is in the air, even if the drought conditions mean that very little is actually growing. Onions have yet to make an appearance. Last year they were already up in January. No sign of asparagus yet (also up in January last year). The cabbages that have managed to hold on through the combination of desiccating frosts and drought are small and look pretty sorry for themselves. The crab apple is in bloom though, primroses are everywhere and the self-seeded nabos are appearing, though less prolific than in previous years.

Lemon tree frost damage

We had some unusually severe frosts this year. The damage to the outermost branches of the lemon tree is considerable and it will lose all its leaves from these branches. But were it not for the fleece, the entire tree would look like this, so fleecing was definitely worthwhile. The centre of the tree looks green and healthy. Next winter I need to build a proper frame so the tree is well contained inside the cocoon of the fleece and isn’t touching it like it was this winter. I think if this were the case, then the outermost branches might have escaped damage.

I’m also going to experiment with a new location for runner beans this year. Outside the yurt, they don’t get full sun until the afternoon and didn’t do hugely well last year, so I’m going to try them in a location where they’ll get morning sun and then radiant heat from a large terrace wall behind them.

Today I made a framework against the vineyard terrace wall at the back of the new fruit terrace out of cana (Arundo donax), using some of the cut lengths of galvanised steel wire from the first incarnation of the geodesic dome chicken tractor to peg the canes top and bottom into the soil and the top of the terrace wall, and stringing thin garden twine between them to make a lattice for the beans to climb.

Runner bean framework

Runner bean framework

You can walk along underneath the framework, making it possible to harvest beans from both sides.

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