Mid summer’s June 2020

At the Ria Formosa not far from home with Bonji and Peeps.

Ria Formosa, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal, nature reserve
Ria Formosa, near Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, East Algarve, Portugal

It has been very hot this week and we have had some proper mid summer nights. Very warm and humid. I have just been camped at home but it’s fine as I have enough to do. The dogs keep me busy as well.

I don’t usually bang on about Permaculture and sustainability.

physallis peruviana, cape gooseberry, almonds in porridge, Belnonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Healthy oatmeal porridge

I like to think I do what I can but I don’t think it is possible to be anywhere near 100% self-sustainable. We can make a difference to our daily lives if we make an effort to grow our own. Here is what goes into my oatmeal porridge. Almonds which I have from last year and physallis peruviana berries. This is also known as the Cape gooseberry. It is truly a permaculture plant – with a bit of compost and a decent supply of water it produces berries 8-9 months of the year and provides me with fruit when there is nothing else. Thank you Martin Maracapino for the seeds that started me off. Now the plants self-seed so all I have to do is transplant the seedlings regularly.

plum leaf eaten by pest, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira , Eastern Algarve
Badly eaten plum tree leaves.

I have half a dozen plum trees. This year my heaviest cropper the Roxo (purple), is doing poorly. It was attacked by plum curl (a fungus) and an insect that ate all the leaves. This pest only appeared last year. It deposits eggs which hatch into tiny white larvae things which I assume eat the leaves. Look at the state of the leaves.. . I’d really like to know what this pest is actually called.

plums, red and yellow/ green plum varieties, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, East Algarve, Portugal
Plums!

I used some pesticide for the first time. It smells a bit like the stuff we used to use back in Kenya for cockroaches. I am really happy that there are no cockroaches worth mentioning here :). They are horrid things! I mixed the pesticide with soapy water and vegetable oil. It proved to be effective but it was too late for the fruit whose growth were severely stunted.

Back to the plum trees. This year, I have just the two trees bearing fruit. A red variety and a yellow/green variety. Both varieties are very good.

The grapes are coming along.

Grapevines. Dona Maria Branca and Italia varieties, Belmonte, East Algarve, Portugal
Grapevines. Dona Maria Branca and Italia varieties.

The pumpkins are growing slowly and some are struggling. I put them in heavy clay soil that bakes rock hard due to a current lack compost. Most have flowered but I am still waiting to see an actual pumpkin develop. I have a few tomatoes growing well. I should have really planted more in this spot. I put some elsewhere where the compost and water were insufficient and this turned out to be a mistake.

Pumpkin plant and tomatoes.

Oh apricots! In early June I had a good number of apricots. Made some jam – tastes fine :). The flowers are osteospermum. They grow very well here and are pervasive.

Apricot jam

I made my first apricot cake and preserved some apricots for the winter. I have been busy 🙂

apricors, damascos, Belmonte, Luz de TAvira, East Algarve, Portugal
Apricot cake and preserved apricots

The battery bank that supports my solar P.V system is exhausted. The batteries are not holding charge so I don’t even have solar powered lights once the sun goes down. The batteries are of the flooded lead acid variety and I used them hard so it was to be expected after 5 years. They paid for their cost but are now junk O_O. I have to come up with a replacement plan but I am not keen on more lead acid which I will have to scrap eventually. Nickel Iron batteries appeal to me even though they drain current characteristics is much lower than that of lead acid batteries. Lithium ion are good but expensive – and will have to be replaced in 10 to 15 years.

Well, that’s all from the eastern Algarve, Portugal. Hoping to push the canoe out soon!