gardening

Olive picking

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Jade is sitting on the harvest net and plays with black olives. She places them in the nearly full basket, then tries to eat one, pulls a grimace, offers me one, I refuse - but thank you so much -, then takes one out of the basket, then another one, then turns the basket over.

Yes, picking olives with a toddler is really not that much fun.

We were six and cleared our olive trees in a couple days - we only picked the ones in the tiny parcel around the house, because we had to leave soon. It won't be an enormous quantity of oil, but will hopefully last for a half a year.

And Sam took them to a different press this time, a super old school one that still makes it the cold way! Wow! I don't even think I've ever tasted cold-pressed olive oil! So excited about having it on hands in a few weeks when we return home.

Thank you so much for the visit and the help, Shaunna & Orion. It goes so much faster with friends!

The garden in august

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August has been a steaming hot month, but the garden is so happy. This year we aren't harvesting as much as last one, but it may just be that the very damp spring delayed the ripening of vegetables. Oh, and the garden is growing! We're building twig fences with the help of our volunteers and new beds.

Meet Brigitte, Ulrike, Irena & Gudrun, our newest homestead members! This time, in a fox-proofed home.

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How are your gardens doing?

harvests + there's a newborn shop!

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A tiny mammal has been enjoying vegetables from the garden! (Ok, ok, her parents too). Carrots, eggplants, courgettes, cucumbers, peppers, snap beans, beetroots and some tomatoes are joining in the garden fest.

Meanwhile, in the wild, daucus carota (or wild carrot, Queen Anne's lace, bird's nest) has been calling. We've used some flowers in the kitchen and the rest... Well, that's an experiment for the later.

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Oh! Did you see our new page? I just added a little shop to our blog! So far there's only dreamcatchers in it (which were a small success on instagram, so now there's permanent corner for them). I hope to soon add some soaps and other goods!

Enjoy August, folks! And stay cool. Over here, the country is on fire. Like, real fire.

The garden in july

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This month the garden is booming! ☼The weather is steaming hot, going near 40º C in some days. Still, everything is holding up pretty well.

Last year we were watering every single day. This year, though, we are doing it only every five days, more or less. This leads to stronger plants, more used to face dry conditions, and which seeds will grow more adapted plants. Talk about resilience! (And water saving...)

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There's the classical vegetable-in-the-compost type!

We're having plenty of chard and have harvested the first carrots, beetroots, peppers, cucumbers, a handful of tomatoes - mostly lucky shots, to be honest. But it's a matter of weeks now before we start having all those courgettes, turnips, tomatoes, eggplants and everything else.

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This afternoon we prepared new trays of carrots, fennel, turnips and different salads.

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Happy august, everyone!

The garden in june

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We're borrowing Seed to Salad Bowl's idea and starting a monthly series focused on the garden! It's a great way, not only to share, but for us to look back and appreciate/evaluate what we're doing. This season we are very far behind, but slowly catching up. We're planting a lot of things and doing a whole bunch of seedlings - there isn't any more space under the pergola for trays! It was only our second spring here, so we were still figuring out planting times and what works and doesn't.

Our biggest issue was the massive slug invasion, because it rained until so late (until last week!). They eat everything coming out of the earth, every tiny seedling in the tray - you don't even see the plant coming out, they get there before you, the sneaky little pests. That delayed us, too, since we had to repeat seedlings.

So far, in the earth, we got peppers, tomatoes, chilies, carrots, eggplant, cucumber, courgette, about five varieties of pumpkin, onions, garlic still, beetroot, watermelon, melon, cantaloupe, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, lombard, different beans, peas, lettuce, chard and a few corn plants.

This year ditched the potatoes, but next year will be planting them again!

Lately we've only been picking strawberries, raspberries and cabbage (oh, cabbage. Too much cabbage), but hope to start summer's bonanza soon.

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New garden beds

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Last week we started adding new beds to the vegetable garden - we really needed more growing space, and lazy gardeners like we are, raised beds are always the right answer. So this time, instead of our typical hugelkultur, we're trying Charles Dowding inspired beds (I say inspired because we Sam did dig a bit before layering up).

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A good mix and layering of soil and horse dung (that good old store-bought highly-diluted horse dung... mmm...), topped with newspaper and mulch.

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There are now onions and kohlrabi happily growing in this one, and we're super excited about seeing the results! Hugelkultur VS wood-framed raised beds, bets starting in three, two, one...!

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Reflecting about "home"

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Do you ever get this strange, belly-tickling feeling, that you're not sure where "home" is? That you may not be in the right place, but don't know which place that may be, and at the same time can't really afford moving wherever that would be? And therefore you lose your motivation to invest time and energy on working where you already are, upon the possibility of moving out sometime -soon, you hope? Yeah, that's pretty much how we were feeling, in a very constant way, until not so long ago.

Maybe you can't tell from our pictures - maybe not at all, since some people got the idea we live very far away from others -, but we live in a village inhabited by 20 old people! And guess what, the village is crossed by a national road (it doesn't have lots of movement, but it's still an asphalted road with crazy drivers sometimes). Our closest friends live a 30 minute car drive away. And there are no like-minded folks, children or cool associations within a sane distance to drive regularly. What I mean to tell you is that, altogether, these factors make us doubt if this is the perfect place for us, for raising our family and make long-term plans.

I dream awake very often, this dream often includes a piece of land at dusk, away from any city or village, accessed by a dirtroad. It includes a round wooden house, two goats, happy chickens that don't need fences because of the neighbours' gardens, and lots of kids running around naked. In my dream there are friends living just as far away as a quick bike ride can be, friends with whom we produce vegetables, or honey, or medicinal magic potions, or something else we sell at markets. So yes, that is my dream. It is quite different from the situation we live in currently.

Winter is a tricky season, and one can't fully grasp it when living in a city, following timetables that don't change according to the seasons or daylight. Wintertime makes you almost hibernate, feel sad sometimes and question things. And this winter we spent so long in the bed & breakfast, one hour away from us, working and putting so much energy into making it run. Now something you can tell from the pictures is that it is very different from our little house. Picture winter, feeling disappointed about your house, and going there once a week or even less sometimes, to spend the time indoors because there's a storm outside. You just don't feel like staying in there, but at the same time it's your home.

Enough of winter - then Spring came, and the frost melted, and it's time to make a garden again. And we decided together that, with the work there's still to do in the Bnb, it's ok to be separate sometimes - so, as Sam keeps on working, I stay with Jade at the homestead, which we have no doubts it's the best place for her to be now. And that, alongside with the sun coming out, made all the difference. Slowly, it started to make our house feel like "home" again. Made us both feel motivated once more to deep-dive into keeping the house, mowing the land, going to the market to get plants, seed everything we got in stock, making the outdoors beautiful again... And re-pick our outdoor kitchen/greehouse plan!

Moral of the story is, according to me, that one makes home wherever they are. That thinking about an abstract future when "we'll finally be satisfied" keeps us from focusing in the present when we can already work towards satisfaction and happiness. Home can be a land, an apartment, a tent, a large van. Home is your safe place, the place where you're happy, and I'm pretty sure that place is something that lays deep within each one.

We don't know where we'll be in the future, when that dream up there will become real nor if it will. But meanwhile we intend to take care of the present and make it a pleasant moment to live in.

Now that was some food for though. I'd love if you shared your reflections on "home" over here or on my instagram, which seems to have a lot more movement these days than this tiny, but more honest, corner.

Happy May to you all, I hope you had a beautiful Beltane celebration yesterday ♥

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Oh dear, it's spring again!

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  Oh wow. It's true. It's been mostly me (cat) taking care of the blog lately and I'm not doing such a good job! Some of you said that's ok and that you don't mind me posting just whenever and randomly, so I'm taking it literally.

As you know, we've been spending quite some time away from home, working in that other house to rent out. Which, if you follow my instagram account, may have seen already, but if not, go have a look here! You can start booking already! Eeeeeck!

So at Tapada da Ribeira the frost is slowly melting. Which means it's time to start sowing some thing directly! I will make a post about what we'll be sowing this year :-) Remember that our chickens were feasted by a fox? Oh. Well, the old coop is now serving as a greenhouse . It was just too hard to ignore the possibility...

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DSC_2147 (2) That's our garlic happily sprouting! In some months we can harvest them. We're very curious about these... Last year we planted them in the ground level, this time in a raised bed. You can start betting!

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Oh... Thank you, lemon tree :-)

 

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Here's a not so beautiful photo, but I like it. Can you believe how big this one is getting? Also, look at those felted little shoes.

 

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And as a finishing note, meet our neighbour. This is what I mean by living in a small village. Sometimes, going to the garden just means finding the neighbour's goats eating your weeds.

Putting our beds to sleep

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It's all about mulching!Here's what we were working on when J decided  it was time for her to come out :-)

A friend had come over to help us picking olives - big flop, empty trees this year... So she lent us a hand in this very important garden work!

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We mulch mostly with ferns picked in the forest, sprayed over a layer of newspaper. This keeps the weeds from growing all over.

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Have to admit we love how fluffly ferns make the garden look...

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When frost comes, this new layer of organic matter protects the soil. It also helps the plants by keeping them all snuggled up. Over winter it decomposes and feeds the earth, making it a bit richer every time.

Mulching is really simple and you can use all sorts of things. We've been sticking up with ferns since the beggining and they seem to work really well. Some people in the village use pine needles from the forest, which is something usually advised against, since it's supposed to make the soil really acidic. Truth is their gardens seem to flourish without any problem. Mmm! Must be a question of balance and  feeding the earth the right nutrients in healthy doses, we suppose.

Does anyone want to share their knowledge on mulching?

 

The garden in october

--1 Moist weather came to stay! Thankfully!

Besides everything being green around, one of the things that make us the happiest is that we can forget about the drip-system and plant things where we want without water worries :-)

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We harvested fallen hazelnuts from our tree.

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Our neighbour gave us lots of winter spinach from her garden to plant. We like this variety, frost-hardy and delicious. So this year we'll be saving seeds for next autumn.

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Wee spread them all over the raised beds, making company to the newly planted different types of cabbage.

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We harvested the last courgettes, which by this time were hard and ready to be stored. Some were really huge, long as an arm! Bell peppers and tomatoes are still thriving, but the rain is starting to rot them, so we guess it's a good-bye until next summer.

The raised beds are starting to look empty, but soon will be green again with the new plants 🌱

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In a sunny day, we worked on our compost heap, adding a new compartment and replacing the walls. One year and a couple months of humanure! We also improved one of our flower beds, which is full of beautiful calendula, with a wood frame.

The chickens are enjoying the change of weather too, since now there's food for them growing everywhere and lots of worms! And they've been gifting us with eggs everyday :-)

Have a lovely autumn everyone! 🍂