Author Archives: Zephyr

Political Thoughts Easter 2024

War in Ukraine, illegal migrants loaded in a boat, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal

I haven’t written about anything political for ages. Mainly due to being busy with other things and health issues. I feel now is the time I should state my position on various issues.

Privatization

Some privatization of national/government run institutions is a good thing. As it can increase efficiency and reduce costs to the public / o povo. However, privatization of all national assets for the sake of privatization is not a good thing.

There is a difference between the privatization of a national Airline company like TAP and a essential utility like water as in the case of Thames Water in the UK. What we have to remember is this. A privatized company is driven by it’s very nature to return the maximum amount of the profit a company makes to their shareholders - in form of dividends. The citizens of the country and the national interest being of secondary importance.

This is clearly seen in the case of Thames Water in the UK. After the government allowed the privatization of the water company, the water bills immediately doubled and I have no doubt have continued to increase. The company paid out dividends to it’s shareholders while failing to invest the profit made into maintenance and development of the water processing infrastructure. Thames Valley Water now require 18 billion pounds to fix the problems. The company is owned by non UK entities based in China and Abu Dhabi.

It is my belief that companies that provide such basic and essential services in a country should never be privatized , let alone sold to foreign entities.

Ukraine

Putin. You cannot write about Ukraine without doing some sort analysis on Putin. The BBC have a program on Putin which is quite good. I was sceptical at first but now see they were correct this time round. Putin is an able state administrator, a gambler and a splinter in a wound.

His gambit in Ukraine went wrong. Without consultation with the Russian Parliament he diverted troops on a training exercise in Belarus to invade Ukraine. The reason the tank column took so long on the road to Kiev is because Putin had gambled the Ukrainians would be intimidated and throw the gates of Kiev open to him. When that failed, to save face he decided to press on with the war with badly prepared and ill equipped troops. The Ukrainians had been heavily armed by foreign states especially the United Kingdom and the Americans with the latest anti tank weaponry. We know how that went.

This is what happens when you become a dictator the sense of one’s own power and invulnerability becomes detached from reality. Putin should have stopped with Crimea and normalised international relationships. Everyone with the exception of a few, would have accepted that because it felt correct for Crimea to be a part of Russia.

He went about trying to win Ukraine in the completely wrong way. If he was clever he would have used businesses and Russia’s vast energy reserves to bribe and win over the Ukrainians. The Americans do it successfully this way with their companies. Amazon is a good example. Anything, anyone earns on Amazon is taxable first by the Americans. Secondly Amazon have been building the backbone of the internet quietly with secret datacenters all over the world. Amazon now control more than 30% of the global infrastructure that is the internet. A win for American global power.

Putin instead decided to use force like a thug to grab Ukraine. After Putin and the clique that govern Russia, failed to get all of Ukraine they decided to settle for the mineral rich eastern Ukraine. The cost of this will be high for the Russians. Financially and culturally. How can you bomb people and except then to like you let alone love you? Russian businesses will banned from operating in the west and clever Russians will be barred from employment in many countries. War is an evil business and should only be invoked as the very last resort.

Were there / are there, some reasons for Russia launching a war with Ukrane? I would argue , no. The NATO expansion into Ukraine could have been staved off by threats and red lines. As it stands Putin's war has certainly speeded up NATO expansion with Finland and Sweden opting in.

As for Russian speaking Ukrainians being ethnically cleansed by Ukrainian ultranationalists. This while being true, has not been helped by the war except for perhaps those in the annexed regions. How can bombs destroying one’s home and a destroyed economy be of help to a Russian speaking Ukrainian?

Putin has put Russia and Russians in danger. There are many foreign corporations which work in the interest of their political classes of nation states. These include the United Kingdom and the USA. They are jealous that they were not able to benefit from Russia’s energy and mineral wealth as Putin handed it out to his oligarchs and demanded 50% of the profit – (according to the BBC’s Putin program). These organisations can now fight a proxy war against Russia from their armchairs to try and break the Russian Federation. Yevgeny Prighozin was right. Ukraine was not the enemy to go to war with.

Going forward, I would like to see us all working towards a cease-fire and a negotiated peace. Sending armaments to Ukraine only benefits arms manufacturers and people traffickers as Ukraine will remain unstable, with a seriously damaged economy. It will also destabilize the rest of the world. I heard on BBC news (a few weeks ago), some British General being quoted as saying that we should be prepared to go to war with Russia in 10 years time. I am sorry, but that is just barking mad! The Russians will not back down now from the annexed territories. What I suggest is that the Russians be asked to pay war reparations for the death and destruction they unleashed on the Ukrainians. In addition rather than sanctions, all goods imported by Russia should have a heavy war tax for a long period say 20 -25 years. The proceeds of which should go towards rebuilding Ukraine. This would benefits industries in the EU and elsewhere. We should stop pretending that Vlodymyr Zelensky and his cronies represent the definition of democracy.

If Zelenky was half good as a politician he would have been respectful to the Russians and promoted both, the Russian language and culture instead of doing the opposite. He was also in a perfect position to negotiate favourable trade deals with both the EU/UK and Russia without having to join NATO. I have never understood why NATO membership is a prerequisite for joining the EU.

Gaza netanhayu benjamin

Now this is a proper war. The Israelis had no choice but to respond. It is what the Palestinians wanted. Bejamin Netanhayu is weak as a general. Instead of reacting in the Jewish manner of an eye for an eye, he should have waited for a week or more and done nothing. He then should have completely blockaded Gaza and starved them until those in control there released every hostage they had taken. He then could then have taken his time in dealing with Hamas as an entity.

As a politician,I don’t regard Benjamin Netanhayu in high esteem. I think he should have given away something to the Palestinians to maintain the peace. Instead he locked them behind a wall which he not secure adequately. He had undermined Fatah which allowed Hamas to take control of Gaza. He carried on with his hard talk and pandered to Jewish religious extremists. His wall did not protect the Israelis from the ‘martyrs’ that were bred within the Gaza strip for the last two decades.

I don’t see any easy solution going forward. Maybe a corridor to connect Gaza with the other Palestinian territories even if it means moving Jewish settlers. Israel would have to remain in charge of overall security to safeguard it’s existence.

Modern Slavery Theresa May, MP, United KIngdom

The Right Honourable MP Theresa May is to stand down as the Conservative MP for Windsor and Maidenhead. I have every respect for Theresa May as an MP and her efforts at combating modern slavery. It is very difficult. Even in the UK because people want to, for example, eat out at nice restaurants at very reasonable prices. For this you need indentured workers slaving away behind in the kitchens. No one really wants to dig deeply into the work contracts and rock the boat and so affect their good times. The same applies to today's sex industry where vulnerable girls and boys are put under pressure to work for these organisations. They can be for example employed legally as waiters or waitresses but have to provide extra services to clients to keep their jobs. These organizations are multi-national and involve some form of people trafficking or use people in the business of trafficking people. No one cares if they are having a good time. It is very difficult for a single nation state to combat it whilst other nation states turn a blind eye to it to supplement their economies. In such places it is the done thing by fact if not on paper.

One of the reasons that modern slavery is alive and well is that there are too many desperate people who become migrants in search of a better life and will accept any work conditions they are offered. This of’course is linked to illegal migration.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s idea of having more robotics to help with farm work is a very good idea. It will reduce the need of the UK having to rely on migrant labourers who can be exploited and make the UK less attract to illegal migrants. I have seen a 30 hectare vineyard in Alentejo, Portugal where just two guys using intelligent mechanisation brought in the grape harvest for wine. The program did not show who does the pruning and the clearing of the cuttings of the row upon row of vines. 🙂

I end my political rant here.

Sources:

Putin - https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/brand/m0015nfd

Faça chuva, faça sol – RTP 2, 2023

Thames Water, BBC News Headlines, 2024

2024 Ticking away

Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Em casa / At home

2024 Ticking away rapidly. January flew by rapidly. I was busy but I can’t say exactly with what. I didn’t have a single siesta in January but there still wasn’t enough time. The dogs and land management take up a lot of my time. I have to better organise things.

cutting board / tábua de cortar de madeira de olivera, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
cutting board / tábua de cortar de oliveira

The small cutting board I made from an olive tree I pruned has turned out quite nicely. I made a hanging hoop for it out a a bit of plum branch. It was tricky bending it into shape without breaking it. It remains in place by the pressure it exerts at it’s ends where it is inserted into two small holes I drilled. The Roman Arch is very useful.

tangerines /tangerinas, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
tangerines /tangerinas

I have two small tangerine trees that are now fruiting well. The flatter and smaller variety are easier to peel and a little sweeter than the tennis ball sized ones. I will try grafting this one.

attempt a grafting / tento enxertar uma ameixeira, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
attempt a grafting / tento enxertar uma ameixeira

Speaking about grafting, I have never succeeded but it hasn’t stopped me trying. I have recently grafted a couple of plum trees and plan to to graft some carobs as well. Fingers crossed.

louquat seedling / pequina nespira, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
louquat seedling / pequina nespira

I planted my fourth and probably final louquat tree grown from seed. The two in the background are two and three years old respectively and are already fruiting well. These trees are very suitable for the Algarve as they are drought resistant and fruit in spring when there is water available from rainfall. They have thick waxy leaves which prevent loss of moisture. I water them just once a week with a hose in summer and they are fine. I am also trying to graft one of these seedlings to the “Americana” variety whose fruit are larger and easier to peel for jam.

Bosch Rotek 750 and Bosch AFS 23-37 at work, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Bosch Rotek 750 and Bosch AFS 23-37 at work

I decided to invest in an electric powered lawnmower to help with keeping the growth under control. I got a Bosch Rotek 750. It is capable will all it’s 1700 Watts going into the cutting blade which is 45 cm long. There is the overhead of having to drag a very long cable around but I can cope. Together with the Bosch AFS 23-37 electric stimmer we are all Bosched up 🙂 .

On the energy front, I haven’t upgraded my existing solar P.V system but what I have helps. This together with the small LE 300 Watt wind turbine. My solar thermal is still out of action so I have to boil pre heated water for bath on the electric induction plate and kettle. I ran out of wood and have to use a electric fan heater in the mornings. Seems I need more than 600 kg of wood. I am managing to get by on what I can extract from pruning. Fortunately it’s not been properly cold.

almonds in bloom / amendoiera em flor , Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
almonds in bloom / amendoiera em flor

All the almond trees are in full bloom this year. If we have some more rain in March I should get a good crop. Boazinha is correct the floral bloom is one type of snow here. The other type which Miguel Albuquerque of Madeira, didn't like journalists mentioning is rampant in the Algarve too. I am sure he is a close descendant of Afonso Albuquerque. An unfortunate business there.

bolo de laranga 7 orange cake

Been making some orange cakes. I have been buying a few winter oranges. They are of a small variety and very sweet. ** Estou fazer alguns bolos de laranja. Tenho comprar algumas laranjas este inverno. São de pequena variedade e muito doces. **

Sowed my favas very late. Only this week together with some peas.

semeei algumas favas e ervilhas / Sowed favas and peas, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal

That’s all more now. I will be writing a political blog soon. I haven’t for a long time. It’s general elections time in the UK this year and we are having elections in Portugal too.

Let me leave you with Ricardo Vignini. I also like the viola instrumentals from his Terra Livre collection.

Crimbo 2023

Walking In The Air

Put up my sister’s stylish crib this year. It is really out of character with the rest of the furniture but the incandescent bulbs within it make for a very pleasant ambience.

Had a quiet and pleasant Christmas. December and 2023 draw to an end. Walking in the wonder of the land with the dogs. The mornings are bright and you warm up in the sun. A pair of mittens are useful early in morning. A fire too as my cottage is poorly insulated. No sleigh bells ringing as it is well above freezing in the Algarve, Portugal. I think the lowest we have had is about 6ºC .

Tangerines. Tangerinas,
Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Tangerines / Tangerinas

Got a two small tangerine trees in fruit but they are not yet ripe. We planted one of these with my bro. Still no ornages. Eating my last diospiro / persimmon today. 🙂

It’s been more pruning. I have also been felling some decent sized wild olive trunks for fire wood. The Wesco 8303 chainsaw has been upto to job and works very well.

After extracting value from the cuttings in the form of twigs, which burn well even when green it was bonfire time.

cuttings boards -olive wood, tábuas de corte de oliveira, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
cuttings boards -olive wood, tábuas de corte de oliveira

Let’s Grunkel! My ‘Justin’ Beper resistive hot plate died. Amazon were good enough to give me a full refund as it was under warranty. After doing a bit of research, I decided to spend a bit more and get an induction hot plate. They generate heat by electro-magnetism. I settled on the Grunkel as the price and reviews were very good. All of these type of induction hot plates have cooling fans. The cooling fan of the Grunkel PIN-2000 is audible but does not scream like a sorrel mare. 🙂 . I am really impressed! It heats up liquids and food rapidly. The only issue I have is cookware. It requires simple steel or iron pots. The high quality cooking utensils with the heavy ‘Thema’ bases do not work on the induction plate. This, even though the utensil it’s is made of steel.

Grunkel PIN-2000 induction hot plate from Amazon.es, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Grunkel PIN-2000 ,induction hot plate from Amazon.es

Happy New Year Everyone!

Persimmon

Diospiro / persimmon, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Diospiro / persimmon

I really love this fruit. They are easy and delicious to eat and resist attacks by pests. I first saw it in England when my father who liked to try new fruit, showed it to me. It was hard and unripe then. I was absorbed in my own things and completely disinterested. I regret that now. I could have used the internet to find out more and helped him learn about it.

I have several trees and have planted half a dozen more I have grown from seed. If it goes well they should bear fruit in about 4 years, of the Roxo Briliante variety. I think the Fufu variety is a hardier variety. This year all the Fufu persimmon trees fruited even thought it was hot and dry. True, the fruit are smaller and thicker skinned. I have only 1 Roxo Brilliante and it did not produce anything.

Picked all my remaining persimmon last week. They are the only fresh fruit of my own I have until spring. They suffer from a quite a bird of damage by birds, who just peck them to sort of reserve them.

Propped up Cypress tree / cipreste com suporte, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Propped up Cypress tree / cipreste com suporte

Another thing that remininded me about my father was propping up a blown down cyprus tree. He saved a guava tree this way back in Kenya. He used to take upon himself to look able the communal trees and distribute the fruit to the neighbours. He was a socialist at heart. I should have caught on much earlier by the Paul Robson ‘Canoe Song’ that he used to sing. 🙂 .

Wesco 8303 doing some fine work /Wesco 8303 feito bom trabalho, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Wesco 8303 doing some fine work /Wesco 8303 feito bom trabalho
Wesco 8303 doing some fine work /Wesco 8303 feito bom trabalho Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Wesco 8303 doing some fine work /Wesco 8303 feito bom trabalho

I am making a small cutting board from a decent sized olive trunk.

Making a samll cutting board / Fazendo uma tábua de cortar, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Making a samll cutting board / Fazendo uma tábua de cortar
Making a samll cutting board / Fazendo uma tábua de cortar, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Like so / Isso
mango tree protected from frost,  Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal

I have put a bit of polythene sheeting around the mango tree to help protect it from frosts. It as yet has to drop below 6ºC.

I have a decent amount of tangerines growing and the nespira (louquats) have had a heavy blossom which promises a good amount of fruit.

 tangerines /tangerina , Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
louquat tree and wind turbine / turbina eólica e nespira em flor,  Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
louquat tree and wind turbine / turbina eólica e nespira em flor

The LE 300 wind turbine helps keep the lights on during winter. I really need a small solar P.V array that tracks on the azimuth. During winter my fixed array on the roof becomes ineffective after about three o’clock in winter.

Pine and lime for a good time.

I heat pine needles and some biys of lime in a pot for aroma therapy . It gives of a lovely fragrance as the steam disperses the essential oils. The down side is you have to use energy to heat the pot. Cypress cuttings and lime work well too.

Ria Formosa,  Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal

That’s about all for now. Managed to take Bonji a couple of times to the Ria Formosa this month on the electric bicycle thing.

A Short Autumn

Persimmon in autumn foilage /Diospiro em outuno, Belmonte, 
Luz de Tavira
Algarve, Portugal
Persimmon in autumn foilage /Diospiro em outuno

Not much of an autumn this year. We had an extended summer and are now slipping rapidly into winter. It is damp but not cold with night time temperatures well above 10ºC. The persimmon (diospiros) trees are sporting a bright orange plumage to match their orange coloured fruit. No one told the others trees that the seasons had changed. The plum and other trees are just only beginning to realise summer is finally over.

Quality olives / alta qualidade azeitonas , Belmonte, 
Luz de Tavira
Algarve, Portugal
Quality olives / alta qualidade azeitonas

October is time for harvesting olives. I didn’t have a lot this year but the outcome was better than how it looked initially when the olives were drying up in summer. I picked most by hand. It is much slower but the olives are undamaged and so can be stored for longer.

harvesting olives by hand / apanhei azeitonas com mão, Belmonte, 
Luz de Tavira
Algarve, Portugal
harvesting olives by hand / apanhei azeitonas com mão

I am still reliant on the four old large olives trees for the main crop. They are a green variety. I had to use the tall ladder to reach them. I am pruning two of my large trees to shorter heights, to make it easier next time round.

large olive tree /oliveira mais grande, Belmonte, 
Luz de Tavira
Algarve, Portugal
large olive tree /oliveira mais grande
Lagar Rocha - Santa Catarina, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira
Algarve, Portugal
Lagar Rocha - Santa Catarina

I took the olives in small batches on the scooter to the Lagar Rocha at Santa Catarina. You get about 1.8 litres of olive oil for every 20 kg. I think I will get about 8 litres this year.

Self seeded variety of olive, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira
, Algarve, Portugal I have some self seeded olives whose produce help. My young olive trees that were grown from cuttings are still not producing anything of note. But they are growing well so I am hopeful :).

Custard apple / anona, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Custard apple / anona

The anonas (custard apples) I grew from seed came good this year. Four years on. I was beginning to wonder if they would ever fruit :). Two of them flowered and one set a couple of fruit. I am very happy 🙂 .

The last of the tomatoes were had this month. They are a good size. última tomates 2023, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal

wachoro, dogs, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
wachoro

Lots of pruning to be done. I call it a form of medium rotation coppice as the trees I have provide me with my winter heating fuel year on year. Stay warm and cosy everyone!

Sun ripened tomatoes

Sun ripened tomatoes, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira,Algarve, Portugal
Sun ripened tomatoes / Tomates maduros

Some sun ripened tomatoes this week. There are still some green ones on a couple of the plants which will hopefully ripen. Of the two dozen seedlings of the green peppers I sowed, I have managed to grow a just single plant on. I have got about half a dozen sweet chilli grown from seed. I will move then into the greenhouse. Our night time temeperatures are dropping. About 16-17 ºC on average.

Azeitonas, olives, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira,Algarve, Portugal
Olives for pickeling / azeitonas para conserva

The olives are ready for harvesting. I picked a few for preserving. They are less this year like most of the other crop but I hope to get some oil pressed. I am waiting for the lagar at Santa Catarina to commence pressing before I harvest them.

last of the plums /ultima ameixas, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira,Algarve, Portugal
last of the plums /ultima ameixas

The last of the plums were had this year. They are medium in size and yellow inside. Not a bad variety. They will help keep us in fruit.

guavas / goiabas, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira,Algarve, Portugal
guavas / goiabas

The gauvas, like the peaches and apples, did not flower well this year. Probably due to the eratic climatic conditions. I have a few guavas ripening now. Definitely won’t be enough to make jam let alone perad (guava cheese). I am growing two more guava trees from seed. I hope they are the yellow variety. The red are nice but I like the yellow ones more.

lemon tree / lemoeiro, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira,Algarve, Portugal
lemon tree / lemoeiro

Managed to grow my two lemon trees better this year. Here is one I have spread cypress cuttings around to help build the soil acidity.

orange tree / laranjeira, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira,Algarve, Portugal
orange tree / laranjeira

I have done the same for the orange tree at the bottom. Still hoping for oranges one day. I got a couple of tangerines in fruit. The permissions are also in fruit. Less and smaller fruit due to the very hot and dry conditions we have had. The birds tend to destroy them before they ripen on the tree which is a pain. I have taken to ripening them indoors.

On the green energy front, still limping on with my small P. array and small wind turbine. I hope to put a couple more panels up to boost the electrical output. The rats destroyed the silicon tubing that tops up the battery bank. The even ate a plastic container! The LE 300 wind turbine still works reliably. Thank you Leading Edge.

Started cutting wood for winter. I am lucky to have my own wood resource which comes mainly from large wild olive and almond trees growing on on land. The wood burner is our main source of heating during the winter. Let's go Wesco! 🙂

Thankfully the almost daily unheavenly stench that used come from the neighbouring territories for months has died down. Smelt like rotting guts and carcasses of rabbits and such - that were even brought to boil.. . I now get the occasional whiff of freshly spread entrails. It’s more tolerable. Changing demographics.

Anyhow, I am plodding on. I am pleased that I managed to grow my young olives this summer a bit more. A lot of work with the hose pipe. The calderas are proving effective.

calderas working / caldeiras são eficaz, 
Belmonte, Luz de Tavira,Algarve, Portugal
calderas working / caldeiras são eficaz

Caldera / Caldeira

Torre de Airies, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Ria Formosa,
Torre de Airies, Luz de Tavira, Algarve

The city of Madrid, Spain is situated in a caldera. Due to the effects of thermal inversion I expect the heat was trapped over the city this very hot August. It was certainly very hot in the eastern Algarve but has cooled down a little during the last couple of days. I even managed to take Bonji to the Ria Formosa, at Luz de Tavira. We had a sit down in the picnic spot next to the Torre de Airies. I am still not sure what it was originally. My guess is a wind mill.

caldeira, olive trees, oliveiras, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Caldeira /Caldera

The calderas I have been carving out, have been shallow ones. These around my young olive trees. I made them about 1.5- 2 meters wide with a maximum depth of about 2 inches (5 cm). The deepest part being at the top of the incline of the slope of the ground. They have proved to be effective. I water these olive trees just once a week with a hose pipe and they have managed to survive the high temperatures and arid conditions and even grow.

carobs, alfarroba, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
carobs / alfarroba

August is the traditional month for picking carobs in the Algarve. I picked mine and sold them to Madeira e Madeira Lda. in Alfandanga. Since I didn’t have a lot this year I used ‘ O Pepe’ to transport them. My neighbour had kindly offered to assist me with transport but it was not necessary. They price you get for your carobs is also also a lot lower this year. Nine euros for a aroba (15kg).

figos /figs 'Lampa Preta' , Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
figos /figs 'Lampa Preta'

I had some figs. Enough to make a type figgy pudding this year :). I was surprised to hear on the program (BBC Sounds) ‘The Potting Shed’ figs grow in the UK. I have two varieties now. ‘Lampa Preta’ and the one that Vitor made cuttings (stacas) back in 2017. fig, figo Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal These produced figs and good ones too! - for the first time this year. So I will plant some more. I have had them in pots and was waiting. Not sure what variety they are.

melon, melão, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal

I managed a couple of melons this year from seed. The only pumpkin plant I grew from bought seed only flowered beautifully. The White grapes, Dona Maria are early this year and very sweet.

The tomato plants that were the control that I grew in a couple of pots, have actually produced some decent size tomatoes now. potted tomato, tomateira em vaso, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal

Nashi pera / Nash Pear, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Nashi pera / Nash Pear

One of my ‘nashi pera’ had a good crop. About half pears were infected. Black fly. I did spray at all this year. I cut out the good bits and stewed some for winter.

Stewed nashi pear, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Stewed nashi pear

Lots of bees this year. I keep a couple of containers filled for them. I really think they enjoy swimming. I put a couple of corks in to act as life buoys. They love them. 🙂

Bees having fun / abelhas diverte-se , Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Bees having fun / abelhas diverte-se

That’s all for now. The olives grow slowly, with th help of the caldeiras 🙂 oliveiras, olive trees , Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal

July – more of the same

hot dog, terra seca, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, POrtugal
Hot days

Yes, it’s still very hot and dry with over 30ºC almost daily. Bonji cooled off in the Ria Formosa last week. We really must go more often.

yellow plums, ameixa amarelo, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
yellow plums / ameixa amarelo

On the fruit front. Life is not a peach this year. Hardly a peach to be had. The plums are less but we have some which is good. I had to pick all my black plums (ameixa preta) early. Had I waited for them to sun ripen there wouldn’t have been any – insects, birds and rats. I was grateful to have got some yellow plums despite the infection and the fact that that were only a few of these growing.

Santa Rosa ameixas, plums, organically grown, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Santa Rosa?

I can’t remember but I think they are the Santa Rosa variety (red outside and yellow on the inside). These will be the last of the plums.

grapes, uvas, Italia variety / Italia varidade , Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Italia variety / Italia varidade

A grape vine is helping with the fruit supply. Italia variety which is a good table variety and the grapes are ripening nicely. Once again the vine grew quite wild, mostly up an almond tree. This had been sort of the plan :). I must make an effort to train it better for the coming year.

Mango - Kent variety, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Mango - Kent variety / Manga varidade Kent

The mango tree managed to survive the winter. You really have to protect all of the leaves ( cover in plastic sheeting) to avoid die back. The pears are sweet but still miniature. Definitely bigger than last year so they are getting there. I lost one apple tree. I haven’t increased the amount of irrigation water to the trees this year but I think it was more due to the heat. The transplanted olive trees are struggling too. Especially those I water just once a week.

potatoes / batatas, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
potatoes /batatas

The potatoes were very good! I can definitely produce a couple of sacks full. You just need very rich soil and then have to keep it constantly moist. I need a better tool to dig them up as the fork spears them. The potato plants flowered and had fruit. Like little potatoes. Not sure what they can be used for. I tried replanting a few of the rooted stems to see if they would grow but this was not successful.

purselain /erva, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
purselain /erva

The spinach failed to germinate. But the weed purslaian appeared so is helping with the greens. This with sweet potato leaf. The cabbage seeds failed to germinate too. I was surprised as they usually pop up. Only have half a dozen stalks of corn this year growing. The seed collected from last year’s crop didn’t germinate very well.

That’s all for now. The olives are still growing slowly and the LE 300 wind turbine is still turning. 🙂 Ria Formosa, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal

June Continues

Dogs in Ria Formosa, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal good for kayaks
wachoro in the Ria Formosa, Algarve, Portugal

Certainly hot today with a maximum of 34ºC predicted. Good for the tourists and tourism. 🙂 Managed to take the ‘choros for a dip in the Ria Formosa this week. They loved it! Unfortunately I cannot take all three on long walks in case we get ambushed by unaccompanied dangerous dogs. So we stay close to home as a norm.

Ria Formosa, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, good for kayaks
The wachoro having a splash in the Ria Formosa
Ria Formosa, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, good for light tackle fishing
The terrible two, Ria Formosa

The tomatoes have been a bit disappointing. From a dozen plants I have managed a dozen tomatoes. They are of a decent size but definitely could have been better in terms of quantity.

Tomatoes, short bush variety,
Tomatoes, short bush variety
Tomato - grown in a control pot, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve
Tomato- grown in a control pot

Been irrigation my clump of lemon grass with a hose pipe. It hasn’t dried out. Lemon grass tea is all I got at the moment.. :). I haven’t seen a tea bag for over two years. Shocking. Still drinking four cups of coffee a day to keep the brain going.

lemon grass / Principe, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve
lemon grass / Principe

My path lined by guava trees. They are beautiful trees and provide some nice shade. I am growing one more in the front and that will be it. Making guava jam or perad (guava cheese) is hard work :).

guava tree lined path /caminho com guababeiras, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve,
guava tree lined path /caminho com guababeiras

Still in plum with a few yellow plums now. Besides the infection the birds are wrecking a lot of destruction. I will try some hanging tins.

The submersible Titan is on my mind. The Pakistani Billionaire would have been better off taking his son, Suleiman, kayaking or scuba diving in Portugal. The other three were professional adventurers and fully understood the risks. The deep is largely unexplorered and unknown. Whales have been known to ram ships so the Titan could have suffered some external form of impact that led to the catastrophic structural failure. I am sure the facts will become known by and by. And it right that search and rescue teams spent a lot of money and time trying to locate the sub. Even though the company were very cavalier and irresponsible in not fitting a surface beacon and a self-surfacing emergency beacon to the sub.

That’s all for now. Thank you for having a look. 🙂

Influencer Jéssica Riço, Jéssica Alexandra Riço, jessica-riço on Peoople

Summer is here!

It really feels like mid June now. These last couple of days have been extremely hot with today’s indoor temperature in excess of 33ºC. It will probably be like this for the next month or so.

Apricots / Damascos, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve , Portugal
Apricots / Damascos

So I had a few apricots. I thought I wouldn’t have got any this year, so I was pleased.

ameixas mais cedo, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve , Portugal
early plums / ameixas mais cedo

Had my first plums this week. The are a small variety. Good but acidic so you can only eat a few at a time. The mid summer variety plums will be coming online soon.

composting toilet, Luz de Tavira, Algarve , Portugal
Composting Toilet

Been using the potty for about three months now. I had almost forgotten about it. Used it when I first came here in 2014-15. I quite like it. It is 100% ecological – goes to compost. It okay if you are just one person using it. The flushing toilet blocked and I haven’t had time to sort it out.

one of the grapevines / uma videira,  Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve , Portugal
one of the grapevines / uma videira

The grapes are coming along.

potatoes / batatas,  Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve , Portugal
potatoes / batatas

The potatoes are doing very well. I am really pleased. I sowed some sweetcorn from seed collected from last year’s crop but on very few germinated. And shockingly only of a dozen bought pumpkin seed germinated.

Been eating a bit of sweet potato leaf (red variety) mixed in rice and pasta. Chalini had given me the shoots a few years ago. Doesn’t seem to upset my stomach this time round.

The lemon trees are growing a lot better. Besides adding a bit a horse manure compost bought in bags from the Cooperative store in Monscarapacho I have been putting in diluted vinegar. This to increase the soil acidity. At the moment 200ml cider vinegar to 4 litres of water seems to bring down the pH by 0.5. As Christine Shinn advised me a few years back pine needles composted around the trunks is a better long term solution. I plan to implement this.

nespiras / loquat trees ,  Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve , Portugal
nespiras / loquat trees

I have been surprised to find out that nespiras (loquat trees) do very well in semi arid conditions. I water these just once a week and they are growing well. One 3 year old fruited this year. They seem to grow better than the olives I on the same irrigation cycle.

young olive trees /oliveiras jovems, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve , Portugal
young olive trees /oliveiras jovems

The young olives are growing - some better than others :).

Wild thyme / tamilo, honey bees,  Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve , Portugal
Wild thyme / tamilo

Wild thyme for a good time 🙂 The bees love it. use in in rice which cooks very well on the 500W hot plate 'Justin' Beper running on Solar P.V.

boundary post / poste de fronteira, ZR , Zephyr Rodrigues ,  Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve , Portugal
boundary post / poste de fronteira

This is one of my four boundary posts bearing my initials ZR. These mark out my property. If anyone claims or implies anything else – this is false.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

References:

How to make soil more acidic: 7 ways to amend your soil's PH |

Influencer Jéssica Riço, Jéssica Alexandra Riço, jessica-riço on Peoople