It’s great there is so much to do on the quinta. As I walk around the land, I add to the list of tasks that need to be completed. The to-do list grows, just like the unwanted plants. Commonly known as weeds.
For this walk, I arm myself with a bucket, a pair of secateurs and gloves in order to do a few immediate jobs. Sometimes the walk takes five minutes, other times it can be an hour, depending on how much I get distracted.
One of the ongoing jobs is tending to the olive and fruit trees and general clearing of the land. I’ve progressed with the pruning of some of the olive trees and this will continue over the next two months to ensure I am not cutting back too much in one go. The main pruning will take place after the next new moon in March.
Another benefit of walking the land is to check for the dreaded processionary caterpillars. While I don’t have any pine trees on my quinta, there are several on the perimeter fence with nests.
As everyone in Portugal knows, these furry caterpillars are incredibly dangerous. After living in a silky nest during the winter, only coming out to eat (and destroy) the pines on the tree, they descend the tree in the spring in a procession formation, hence their name.
The procession is led by a female caterpillar with the intention of finding fertile ground so they can bury themselves. After a few months, they emerge as moths and start the cycle again.
However, to protect themselves, their fur (or hair) has an irritant chemical that, with simple contact, can cause severe rashes and eye irritation in humans and animals. These caterpillars also shoot their hair like harpoons when they are threatened.
All in all, they are not very nice. People and animals need to be kept away from them, and, where possible, the nests need to be destroyed.
Fortunately, I’ve not yet seen a procession although I’ve seen a few “lost souls” on their own.
Sticking with the theme of pests, the warm, sunnier weather is encouraging the flies to come out of their winter hiding places and begin to sunbathe. They don’t sit still for long though as they prefer, believe it or not, to fly around. I guess they are a little like me, enjoy the sun, but prefer to be busy.
Making DIY flytraps is one of the jobs on the list that I have started. Let’s see how that goes.
Oranges and lemons
I’m grateful that I can make fresh orange juice every morning with the oranges I picked the day before. Also having an orange quartered when on a break from work reminds me of half-time when I played football, rugby or hockey. Fortunately, I’ve lots of orange trees and anticipate I’ve still a couple of months’ supply left on the trees.
I am finding it trickier to use the lemons though. I’m a little lemoned out with lemon tea, lemon shortcake slices, lemon curd and lemon squash. I’ve used more lemons for cleaning and sliced some for freezing. But there is only so much you can do with lemons although I am open to other suggestions.
Fortunately, I was grateful that some friends were happy to take some of my excess lemons. I’m not sure they were expecting 20kg, but they have plans for them so I’m sure they will be put to good use.
Radish, bay leaves and rice pudding
My lovely neighbours gave me a couple of radishes. No ordinary radish, these were giant radishes. Typically, I eat small radishes with salads, but these were huge! As my neighbour handed them over, I was given instruction to make ‘sopa de rabanete, batata e cenoura’ [radish, potato and carrot soup]. To add a little flavour, I used freshly picked bay leaves from the farm.
I appreciate soup is easy to make, but I’m chuffed as the radish and bay leaves came from the farm and were harvested, cooked and eaten within a few hours, and travelled less than a food mile! I appreciate the radish was a gift from my neighbours but I’m already growing a couple of varieties from seed.
Earlier in the week my neighbour presented me with a small glass bowl, wrapped up in a kitchen roll. I thought she said ‘rozza’ which puzzled me as in the UK, rozza is slang for the Police. I gave her my “I have no idea what you are saying, but it’s ok” look, which was met with a gentle eye roll and a laugh. It transpires she was actually saying ‘pudim de arroz’ [rice pudding] and it was delicious.
My gift back to my neighbours….. A dozen lemons. What else?
One of the first small projects I undertook on the land was to set up an area for composting. I created a three-section compost bay. The first section though was filled within a week and another bay was given over to leaves.
Despite starting with too many greens, and very few browns, it was going to need quite a bit of work. But, through turning the compost on a regular basis, I’ve managed to “turn” weeds into pretty good compost.
I’ve now got a better mix of brown and green which over the coming months should produce better compost. Oooh. How excited can someone get over compost?
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
Thank you, your continued support is much appreciated, and I am grateful for your interest in my adventure in Portugal!
Melhores cumprimentos. Até logo.