Featured post

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.

Featured post

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!

Featured post

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
Featured post

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

Featured post

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

Featured post

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

Featured post

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

Featured post

Hot and dry

Terrano Bonito

Hot and dry- but rain promised over the next few days - if the BBC have got it right :). I have been busy clearing the land to comply with the law to reduce the risk of bush fires. I feel I am in a good place now. It was a bit challenging as I had only the Bosch strimmer to work with and a large area to cover. I should have invested in better tools and machinery when I was able but I did not have the experience and knowledge at the time.

The Bosch AFS-23-37 is an outstanding strimmer. Bosch can be proud of themselves. I have certainly pushed it to the limits of it’s standard specification and it has managed to cope admirably. I am using heavier 4mm gauge nylon cord and it didn’t complain. It’s on it’s 3rd year warranty. The motor will eventually burn out but it’s all good for now. I can highly recommended this electric strimmer/brush cutter.

Bosch AFS-23-37, , Solar P:V, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Bosch AFS-23-37 running on Solar energy.

Manual irrigation takes up a lot of my time now. But I had expected this as a lot of my trees do not have a drip feed irrigation system. I am also trying to train the young olives I have recently planted and still planting , to become drought resistant.

O tempo a terra é mais seca, manual irrigarion of young olives, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
O tempo a terra é mais seca

I had some favas (broadbeans). About half the amount I had last year from the same area and amount of seed. I planted the second batch a bit late and there was hardly any rain in spring.

favas / broadbeans , Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
favas/ broadbeans

I had a decent amount of louquats/nespiras from two small trees. Not sufficient for jam though. I have another 2 trees growing so hopefully I will have more later on. And my sister thought it was all rubbish 🙂 Bless.

nespira/louquat e flores da ameixa preta árvore Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
louquats/nespira e as flores de ameixa preta árvore.

The variety of louquat ‘Americana’ produces very large pear shaped louquats. I got the tree from the senhora’s stand at the monthly market in Monscarapacho a few years back. I will try to graft it. Speaking of grafting I am trying to top graft my carobs – again. Fingers crossed.

Monscarapacho first Sunday of the month, monthly market. Comprar árvores e muito mais. - Feira - Monscarapcho
Nespira americana

Something went wrong with the almonds and apricots this year. I am not sure if is all over the Algarve. The trees did not flower for some reason and as a result there are hardly any apricots or almonds to be had. Thankfully I have a couple of sacks of almonds in reserve. I have become used to having almonds in my porridge, making cakes with almonds and of’course almond toffee. 🙂

To break the almonds I am using this hand tool by "Dali Nut" I got from amazon. Fitted a rubber cushion to make the stroke a bit shorter. This tool works really well. Nut by nut 🙂 .

"Dali-Nut" feremente para quebra as  amÊndoas, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
"Dali-Nut" nut cracker - quebra as amÊndoas noz com noz 🙂

Tomatoes aren’t going well. They started off very well but then petered out. The two control plants I kept growing in pots under some shade are wilting too. It doesn’t look like it is due too a lack of water, so I am stumped.

Popped some potatoes in the ground after watch a video by Alan Titchmarsh on Gardeners’ World. They are growing very well. I just keep the soil consistently moist. I have no idea what variety they are. Got them from the local supermarket in Fuseta. They don’t seem to mind the heat.

potatoes, batatas - Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
potatoes and the lemon tree is growing much better.

I have a few pepper and chilli plants in the greenhouse in pots. They are doing well.

pimentas/peppers - Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
pimentas/peppers

Been getting by eating my weeds. 🙂 Wild fennel and wild oniony things were to be had in spring. Now there is Portuguese basil (manjericão) that grows like a weed. Less this year due to the dry conditions. I have to grow some in pots to ensure a regular supply . I got these from amigo Jorge and his parents up north.

funcho selvagem e tipa alho frances selvagem Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
funcho selvagem e tipa alho frances selvagem? o_O 😀 Yes, wild fennel and oniony things

This is 100% organic growth. 🙂 Not growth through an acquisition. I have grown these persimmon trees from seed as well as a couple of guava trees. It will take them about four years before they fruit. I like permission more in comparison to guavas because they are tasty to eat and easy to process. Separating the seeds from the flesh of guavas is hard work. If anyone knows of a good method - please do tell!

diospiros de sementes/persimmons from seed, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
diospiros de sementes/persimmons from seed

and finally

espero por meu girrasol em Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
meu girrasol ´ta bonita - aquela Bonji também 🙂

  

jessica-riço, Jéssica Riço, Jéssica Alexandra Riço, - Good Girl -Carolina Herrera, Algarve, Portugal

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Wintery January

It is green here but cold. On some days I keep the home fire burning all day. No quite sub zero but we have had morning frosts and it's predicted to get colder next week. I often wonder how people back in the UK are getting on. My gut feeling is that many struggle to keep warm. I don’t think electrical heating is an affordable option anymore in Portugal. Trying not to be political here, but it appears to me that some governments are committed to imposing higher energy and food prices on the people so that they can keep the war going in Ukraine.

Even with the exorbitant prices of electricity it’s worth investing in an electric blanket. The parents of my Portuguese friend, Jorge, understood that I would not survive in my badly insulated cottage. Very kindly they gave me one. It served me well for years but conked out last winter. I got a Russell Hobbs 90W double electric blanket from amazon.co.uk which really helps me through the cold nights.

Besides the small amount of wood I bought, I am managing to get by with wood collected from pruning my trees. The problem is that I now have mainly green wood to burn. This means low caloric value , not to mention being trickier to get the fire going in the first place.

Favas and LE 300 wind turbine,Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Favas and LE 300 wind turbine

Sowed my favas (broadbeans). We need some rain now. The LE 300 wind turbine is doing it’s bit to keep the lights on.

Burning piles of cut branches, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Burning piles of cut branches

Managed to burn the first lot of my piles of brush. You have to schedule it via the ICNF online system now.

hedgehogs

The burnings made some hedgehogs homeless. I have built them a dedicated brush pile to serve as their home. There seem to be quite a few hedgehogs at my place. Conan and Chubbs find them on our night walks and I give them a tickle. I probably will give them a snack of dog food like Claúdia Afonso does up in the north.

Hedgehog House / Casa do ouriço,Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Hedgehog House / Casa do ouriço

Still pruning the old almond tree slowly. I don’t think I will cut it right down as I have seen an owl nesting in it. The 12” , 36V Wesco 8303 battery powered chainsaw is doing an outstanding job. It cuts through 6 inch almond trunks without any quibble. I put a little extra oil on the chain before I start on dry wood and larger pieces to prolong the life of the chain and bar.

Wesco 8303 battery powered chainsaw sectioning 6inch almond trunk, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Wesco 8303 battery powered chainsaw

                                                                                               

coasters of almond wood, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
making coasters of almond wood

Almond is a pretty wood. I cut a couple of thin sections to act as coasters. I think the orangy colour will fade as they dry.

Almond toffee /doce de amêndoa, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Almond toffee /doce de amêndoa

Still breaking my almonds slowly with the hand tool by Dali Nut. It is very good. I try to put in 30 minutes a day of this. I make small batches of almond toffee which is excellent. I first made some back in 2015 for meu girrasol, Jéssica. :).

Orange cake /bolo de laranja, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Orange cake /bolo de laranja

Made an orange cake after a long time. I cheated and used lemony lime juice instead of orange juice as I ate the oranges. Algarve oranges are quite sublime if you get hold of good ones and not those force grown. I used candied orange peel in the mix. You can’t taste the lime at all which is perfect. It is a bit crumbly as I didn’t use any eggs, just a bit of olive oil. I am trying to find an alternative binder. Still no oranges of my own but I am hopeful.

Until the next blog. 🙂

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Christmas Day

Christmas at Belmonte, Luz de Yavira, Algarve Portugal, Port wine and Bolo do Natal
Port wine and Bolo de Natal

Has been all change. I haven’t got the crib out of the box and couldn’t find the Christmas lights. It’s not really a problem as we are home and I have tonnes to do.

Been busy with the pruning some olives today and Christmas Eve. I have real cypress Christmas trees but saw no point in expending time and energy to decorate one.

pruning olives, Wesco 8393 battery powered chainsaw, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve , Portugal
Pruning with the help of the Wesco 8303

This is my nominated Christmas tree instead. Holmoak (Azeinheiro). It was about my height in 2014 and is now over five metres tall with a decent spread.

 Holmoak/Azienheiro, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve , Portugal
nominated Christmas tree - Holmoak/Azienheiro

I bought about 90 kgs of holmloak for firewood. 30 cents a kilogram. Burns slowly giving off a consistent amount of heat. I aim to get the rest of the firewood I need from around my property. I have enough trees. I am a bit late as the Stihl 370 chainsaw is out of action. I got the Wesco 8303 to help out. And it really does.

So we are home for Christmas. No traditional Goan Christmas sweets :). I did try to make some Perad (guava cheese) but it set too soft. I have to eat it with a spoon. Still very good. I hope to get it right next year. Made some very good guava jam.

So I got a traditional Portuguese Christmas cake (Bolo de Natal) and some Port :). The cake is covered in a variety of glazed fruit and has nut and raisins in it. Very good.

I finally ran out of fresh fruit this week. Ate the last of my persimmons. I now have stewed apples – nice with some yogurt. The stewed apples are easy to do and definitely worth the effort. My tangerine tree has failed to produced this year. So looks like there will be no fresh fruit for a few months.

persimmons /diospiros) and stewed apples and yogurt, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve , Portugal
last of the persimmons /diospiros) and now stewed apples ans yogurt

Been digging out my will olives slowly. The root ball is about a foot deep in the ones I am tackling. Then you have to severe the usually single, tap root. It’s what keeps the olive tree alive during arid conditions.

Thanks for reading. That’s all for now. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

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It’s a Nutty World

September was mainly about nuts. I picked them one by one, off the ground and trees. It was a slow process but not unpleasant as the ground around the trees was mainly clear. As Cláudia A. mentioned on Facebook, picking nuts is a form of meditation. I may try using nets next year. These are a extra work to move around and can get damaged especially on your own.

Almonds, AmẼndoas, Belmonte,Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal, organically grown almonds
Almonds / AmẼdoas

I managed to collect 130 kg of almonds this year. Many of the self seeded almond trees have begun producing. I sold about a third and will be using the rest. Definitely making some almond toffee and chopped almonds in breakfast cereal 🙂 . It’s a slow business cracking the almonds nut by nut with a small hand operated machine but far better than using a hammer.

Olives. My olive trees are resting this year. I managed to harvest about 13 kg. I dressed and pickled 3 kg. Could have done with double this amount of unblemished ones to preserve.

Olives for pickling / azeitonas para conserva, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Olives for pickling / azeitonas para conserva

I had a go at trying to make olive oil. I started with about 9 kg of olives. I first mashed them. I found this step to be unnecessary and a waste of my energy.

Home made olive oil attempt / tento fazer azeite caseiro,  Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Home made olive oil attempt / tento fazer azeite caseiro

I them blended them for 6 seconds with a bit of water. Two bursts of six seconds for each lot. You have to be careful as the seed (stones) can damage your blades.

blended the olives, olives in a blender, home made oil oil, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
blended the olives

An old T-shirt was used to strain the blend. The stones remained mainly whole.

strained blend and residue, home made olive oil, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
strained blend and residue

I poured the stain liquid into a plastic bottle to settle. I the squeezed the residue and poured the stained liquid into another bottle.

oil olive settling and seperating into layers , home made olive oil , Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
oil olive settling and seperating into layers

After 3 weeks I can see about 1 cm of clear olive oil in the 5 litre bottle which is about 0.16 litres. In conclusion the juice is definitely not worth the squeeze and I won’t be doing this again without a press and better filtration.

I harvested all the sweet corn. Pleased with the result considering there were less than a dozen plants. I have collected some seed for next year.

sweet corn / milho , Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
sweet corn / milho

Had some pomegranates. The variety ‘Asyria’ seems to give better pomegranates. These have a yellowish outer skin and the seeds are pink but still sweet. Pomegranates like the olives, carobs and almonds are drought resistant trees and do well here with minimal irrigation.

Pomegranates / Romas fruit, drought resistant, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Pomegranates / Romas

Had some apples! I have two varieties one is yellowish mild, sweet and non acidic. These here are okay. Their skin has unpleasant flavour – mildly like kerosene (paraffin). I have stewed two kg for winter. It tastes like baby food 🙂 .

apples / maça ,  Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
apples / maça

Despite a lot of fruit drop, I was surprised that I still got a decent amount of persimmon. They are a delicious fruit. I regret my father did not have a chace to see and try them. I have been getting a stream of about 4 fruit a day for over a month. Going to plant some seeds. Apparently they grow true amd take about 5 years before you get a fruiting tree.

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

That’s all for now. The olives grow slowly. I have some to sell for €3 a plant. If you know someone please put them in touch. dev1@bright-work.co.uk

small olive tree / oliveira pequena , oliveiras para vender, olive trees for sale, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
small olive tree /oliveira pequena
Featured post

Towards the end of Summer 2022

It’s a lot cooler which is nice. The average being about 26ºC . We had some unexpected rain yesterday which posed a threat to my almond harvest. I am picking these slowly off the trees by hand. I could use a net but I feel it is more work than the task merits. The harvest seems mixed. Some of almonds which were a very good size last year are miniscule this year. While others are fine. Could be due to the drought conditions and extreme heat. The almond trees are not irrigated.

almonds, amendoas, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Almonds / amêndoas

While on the subject of extreme heat, my persimmon (diospiro) trees have dropped their fruit. I don’t think it’s due to lack of water as the leaves are green and growing. Surprisingly, the apples are doing okay. I really expected them to drop all the fruit during the heat wave.

apples / maça, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
apples / maça

I have a decent amount of grapes to keep me going at the moment . ‘Italia’ came good despite the vine collapsing due to neglect on my part. The Donna Maria Branca’ are slowly ripening. They are definitely less bunches of this variety this year.

grapes, uvas, Donna Maria Branca variety, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Donna Maria Branca variety

I still have a few plums on one tree. I managed to gain something useful from the black plums (ameixa preta) which were heavily infected with worms. I harvested them early and made some good jam and a lot of compote. Some of the compote borders on jam quality. I used 25% in weight of sugar to the plums. I use the compote in my cooking. In sweet and sour pork, pasta and even rice. I also use it to make a super dip for chips 🙂 .

Super dip – chopped onion and chilli, a bit of chopped basil. I use the manjaricão which grows like a weed. To this I add 2-3 tablespoons of plum compote, a squirt of tomato ketchup and a pinch of black pepper. Sometimes I add a dash of cider vinegar.

I harvested and sold the bulk of my carobs. I had to take them down a couple of sacks at a time, 14 km round trip. It was okay but I hope to find a paid for transportation service for next year.

Pepe Benelli, 50cc two stroke, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Pepe working hard

The maize is still growing well. Fingers crossed!

Maize /milho, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Maize /milho

It’s too late for the melons. The plants are growing and flowering but it will soon be autumn. The olives are growing slowly.. . 🙂 No olives for olive this year as the trees are resting.

melon plants and young olive trees, melão plantas e oliveiras, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
melon plants and young olive trees

Bonji says it'd been a very hot this summer!

dog, cão, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Bonji

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August 2022

Ria Formosa, Luz de Tavira
Terrible two 🙂

Not much of a change from July. It has cooled down considerably.

Manage to take the terrible two for a dip in the Ria Formosa a couple of times. Still not made it to any of the beaches which are temptingly near. Lack of time is my excuse as I have to split myself between land management, retraining and looking for online work.

carobs, alfaroba, abundance of nature. Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
carobs/alfaroba

Been picking my carobs slowly. Still haven’t found any suitable transportation to take them to Madeira e Madeira Lda in Monscarapacho to sell them. Looks like I will have to take them down sack at a time. Hey ho.

almonds, amendoas, abundancia da natureza
Almonds/Amendoas

The almonds are ready to be pecked too. Carobs, almonds and olives are the only true abundance of nature here in the Algarve, Portugal. The rest require irrigation as a minimum.

fig tree, figueira lampa preta, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira
Figueira 'Lampa Preta'

The fig tree of ‘lampa preta’ variety has grown and is giving me a decent amount of figs. The figs are very good. I must propagate it! figos lampa preta, figs

I have some other fig trees growing . No idea what variety and they have yet to produce some figs.

orange tree 'Valencia', larangeira 'Valemcia', Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
orange tree 'Valencia'

One orange tree of the dozen I planted in 2015 survived and is growing well this year. I have another two but I think they have a virus. The leaves have always been misshapen with bubble like structures. Still no oranges.. ._. .

Strawberry tree,Medroneira, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Strawberry tree/Medroneira

Two of the four strawberry trees planted back in 2018 that survived are also growing well this year.

Nashi pera, Nashi pear, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Nashi pera

Took off the nashi pears early to avoid spoilage by insects. They are ripening slowly indoors in a box. They are a firm type of pear.

grapes 'Italia', uvas Italia, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
grapes 'Italia'

Neglected to tend my only ‘Italia’ variety vine but it is still giving me a decent amount of grapes. I think it was too hot for the green variety ‘Dona Maria’ branca’. These usually ripen in early September. They have already ripened this year and a a greater quantity of the bunches have petered out. The heat has been a problem for the persimmon/kaki trees too. Most of the fruit having dropped off. The leaves are fine so I don’t think it is shortage of water.

Milho,Sweet corn, maize, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Milho/Sweet corn

The corn is still growing well. Fingers crossed. I am pleasantly surprised as the soil is relatively poor. I just irrigate every two days with the hose pipe.

dark green curly leaf lettuce/ alface rizzo mais escuro., Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
dark green curly leaf lettuce/ alface rizzo mais escuro.

That's all for now. The olives still grow slowly.. 🙂

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July 2022

t’s been a sweltering hot ,hot July. And very dry. Have been mainly here on the homestead. Irrigation has been the main field activity. The olives grow slowly.

Olives growing in the field, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve
Olives growing in the field

Bonji and I have been having lunch under the carob tree. Yes, unfortunately I have to keep ehr tied up now. Summer anthems have been lacking but I liked listening to bits of the International Music Festival at Sines transmitted by RTP3 radio. Limon and her girlfriends! 😀 . No beach as yet due to lack of time and logistical capability. I still have not found a Man and Van to transport my carobs. Not as easy to do as back in the UK if you require paperwork here.

Bonji, carob trees, alfarobeira, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Bonji under the carob tree

So I have had some decent tomatoes. Could have been a better crop if I had looked after them better. Especially the giant variety ones.I am growing corn/maize for the first time! It’s going well. There were just twelve seeds in the pack. I got the growing tips from the BBC’s Gardeners World website. They also show you how to grow potatoes too. 🙂 Unfortunately I don’t have prepared soil for this. I planted some sweet potato but it’s not growing strongly.

Corn, maize, milho, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Not quite a corn field but my first attempt 🙂

Plums. I had some good early red plums. And then some very good yellow plums. But after these it has gone wrong. The Santa Rosa (red skin/yellow flesh) and the black plums are heavily infested. Looks like the same small white fly whose larvae eats the leaves. The plums get bitten and then spoil.

Yellow Plum/Ameixa amarelo, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Yellow Plum/Ameixa amarelo
Santa Rosa plums/ ameixa Santa Rosa, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Santa Rosa plums/ ameixa Santa Rosa

I have a pest problem with the peaches as well. They weren’t many to start off with. And then the insects. The yellow peaches were/are full of worms. I got a single good one from two trees after spraying 5 times. The paraguiaya (rosy coloured flattened ones) have the same problem. I will take them off early and salvage what I can.

Yellow Peach/Pessago Amerelo, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Yellow Peach/Pessago Amerelo

The pear trees have a problem too. Looks like a fungal or mite infestation. I am not sure which as yet. I will try soapy water. The pears have already mostly dropped off. They are tiny but good. Been using them in porridge. Oh I finally have figs from 1 good fig tree. It grew slowly. I planted it in 2016. Lampa preta variety! They are very sweet.

Pear tree infestation, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Pear tree infestation

The battery of guava trees is nice and green. That’s all for now. Have a good summer!

Guava trees/goiba árvores, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Guava trees/goiba árvores
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Clear for the summer

The month of May was taken up by constant clearing of the brush and and weedy grass. Together with a little pruning and digging up unwanted stumps. I have been relying on the 900W Bosch electric strimmer and the little 150cc Einhell mower. With the assistance of these two little machines I have managed a decent job of ground clearance. I am able to run the Bosch AFS 27-37 on the Solar P.V/Wind turbine system during sunny days, which helps keep the electricity bill down. My motto - a little at a time but regularly. It is all turning brown and dry but we had an unexpected spot of rain yesterday. Hopefully the weeds won’t spring back up.

Bosch 900 Watt electric strimmer, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira , Algarve

I had a decent harvest of favas (broadbeans) this year. I managed to retain 1.6 kg surplus as seed for next season. They are good nitrogen fixers. This year I used the leaves of the plants, after pulling them up and the empty bean pods to make liquid compost. I am planting a few during the summer under some shade. I will do the same with a few peas. I had a poor harvest of peas. They didn’t grow well in the mainly clay soil. favas image

I have a single raised growing bed. The leeks and lettuce did very well in it. Something has been eating the leeks. Whatever it is, it shears them off at the base at the rate of about one a day. It could be either a rabbit or a mole. From past experience it is most likely a mole. I planted some turnips back in March but they simply disappeared.

This year looks to be good for almonds. The intermittent showers during spring and early summer have helped. Spring is an excellent time to see and

appreciate wild flowers in the Algarve. wild flowers, Algarve

almond tree
Almond tree

I got apricots at the moment. I didn’t spray them so about a third have worms. The plums should start to ripen towards the end of June.

Apricots

My main olive producing trees are having a rest this year. I may get some olives from the others. With prices escalating , I have an incentive to collect and press what olives appear this year. Olive trees for sale, Luz de Tavira

Best foot forward 🙂

field, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve
Featured post

My 2021 Olive production.

Extra Virgin Olive oil - Azeite - Good enough to eat on it's own

It’s been all change with the olives. I didn’t attempt to combine with anyone this time round.

green olives in a sack, azeitonas, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira
Azeitonas verde - green olives

So the only olives I harvested were my own. I picked these mid October.

The four main olive trees that I have, produced a very good bi-annual harvest as expected. They were the main contributors to the 157 kg that I collected to have pressed for olive oil. These produce green olives. I still have no idea as to their variety. I have young olive trees and a few not pruned large olive trees. These contributed about 15 kgs to this total. The 15kgs were a mixture of black and green olives. One of the varieties is the ‘cornicabra’.

green olive tree, azeitonas verde, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Portugal
Oliveira grande - one of the big olive trees

I picked my olives mid October and essentially picked them by hand. I found this works better for me and is more conducive to a state of zen. When I got tired of the silence I tuned in on the portable radio 🙂 I had to bash the olives which were higher up with a long cane. It went well. Because of limited time I have ended up leaving about 25% in the field. This is fine. I am happy my work efficiency and finished in a week. For my efforts I got 17 litres of olive oil. extra virgin olive oil, Azeite virgem This will keep me in oil for a year, so I am pleased. I was reluctant to collect more this year due to difficulties in arranging transportation.

I got my olives pressed at Lagar Santa Catarina, Afra & Rocha Limitada. My olives got thrown into the mix with other mainly small holdings growers. The Lagar gives you your olive afterwards. I am not sure how much of the oil the Lagar retain for their work input. I didn’t ask this time round. I think it is 25%. The oil produced by the lagar is of Extra Virgin quality and is, as always, very good.Lagar Santa Catarina

Pepe Bewnelli, 50cc, 2 stroke engine, two wheel transport, olives on a bike,  Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
O Pepe com as azeitonas - O Pepe being used as a work horse.

Pickled olives are nice to eat. Which you are waiting for your other dishes to cook. So about 3 weeks before the main harvest I picked some for pickling.

azeitonas consevada, pickled olives, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Pickled olives - azeitonas conservada.

That about wraps up my olive productivity for the year. I will for the rest of the year carry on with pruning and transplanting what the olive trees I have. I do have 100-150 young olive trees for sale if anyone wants some. Of the mainly Cobrançosa variety. A bargain at three euros a tree. Strictly by appointment 🙂 Thank you.

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September 2021- autumn underway

Bougainvillea,Win turbine, Renewable Energy, Algarve, Portugal
Bougainvillea and Wind Power -my renewable energy dreams are still very valid .

Night time temperatures have begun to fall, definitely a sign of the onset of autumn.

Still haven’t fired up the stove as it’s still above eighteen indoors during the night.

I haven’t been doing much outside the past month and a half. Been busy doing a PHP certification course as well as learning javascript and such. Needs must etc.

Gathered and sold my own carobs and those of a friend. I don’t mind picking carobs, carobs, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarveit’s easy enough to do. Almonds are another matter. A mixed blessing as this year’s almond harvest is looking to be poor. Almonds are great chopped up and added to your oatmeal porridge. I also throw in some chopped or grated seasonal fruit I have to hand. Like apples, plums, peaches, pears etc. The dogs love this too.

Picking almonds

My own carob harvest was poor this year. About half but what I had last year but I really didn’t mind. Transportation for me is a still an issue. Something I haven't managed to resolve.

figs, Tavira, algarve, Portugak, Lampa Preta varidade
Lampa Preta variety of figs

I have had a decent amount of fruit this season. The plums were very good. Early June right upto mid September. I think I picked the last of the Santa Rosa variety today. I have had some decent peaches , a good number of nashi pears and a few melons.

At the moment I got some Persimmon (kaki) trickling through. They are delicious when properly ripe. I also had my first figs. Lampa preta (black lantern) . I had planted this way back in 2016. It finally managed to grow and is a properly established tree now.

melão, melon, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Zephyr Rodrigues, Sustainable Living, Renewable Energy
Melons

I have snd have had , a fair amount of grapes for the table. I have 4 fruits vines at the moment. 1 red (Italia) and three white (Dona Maria Branca).

My first grow bed is working very well.I have lettuce, beetroot and sweet potato growing in it. As well as the edible weed purslane.

Uvas, Grapes, Dona Maria Branca, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Ria Formosa, Algarve.
Grapes, Dona Maria Branca

I have not been cockling much. The new inflatable was cleverly punctured. There are some very dodgy foreigners about. It was busy where I had to make land and they were waiting for me to come in. They came with their dogs too. Poor Bonji was kept occupied. I left craft and Bonji unattended for less than a 5 minutes. I will be more careful next time.

Well that’s all for now! It pruning and the olive harvest next.

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Early Summer 2021

Has been rather busy. I have been kept occupied with land management, prep-ping for a programming certification and the three dogs.

Land management is mainly irrigation now. Everything is turning dry. I am doing a bit of pruning here and there as well as cutting the grass as it pops up. It’s mainly clear so I don’t have to bust a gut. My motorised scythe has broken down again. The Bosch electric strimmer on the other hand works fantastic. The handle parted at the weld joint. I don’t know any welder here so I think I will have to try some nuts and bolts.

Plums, Algarve, Portugal

Been trying to grow a few vegetables. Bought a dozen salad tomato seedlings – 9 have survived the attention of the dogs and snails. I have this year a few melon plants grown from seed. They are of the tennis ball size variety.

The two new canine additions, Chubbs and Conan are a handful but adorable. They are water dogs and love splashing about in the Ria Formosa. It’s a bit more difficult to take them to a nice beachy area as my kayak was stolen. Some people here obviously didn’t want me having fun on the sandbar catching cockles. I got an inflatable kayak to serve in it’s stead. It’s a cheap and cheerful Intex Explorer K2.

Intex Explorer K2 kayak - great value for money!

It is however very difficult to row. And unsuitable for boisterous young dogs with sharp claws. Their mother,Bonji on the other hand is fine in it. I am working on a plan to fit an electric trawling motor. Another option I am toying with is poling along the shallows. But it hasn’t got a solid floor that would support one standing. I have wrapped a tarpaulin around it so that I can drag it over ground - for just a little way 🙂

I had a good amount of apricots but lost about 70% of them to worms. I currently have a decent about of plums. I have – by luck - varieties that ripen at different times. So it’s been plum juice, plum cake and plum compote. The trees were ,and still are ,infected by a tiny white fly whose larvae eat up the leaves. and I think, the fly damages the fruit. I sprayed them thrice this year with some pesticide which saved the leaves and ensured a decent crop of plums. No ideal but necessary. Speaking of cakes,if you are in the supermarkets around here you must try the cake Folar de Erva Doce. It's not much to look at but melts in your mouth. It's sort of a sponge cake. 400g at under €3, It's goes down very well with the afternoon cup of tea.

Folar de Erva Doce

.

My Almond toffee. Made this afternoon 30/06/2021. And very good it is too 🙂

I have built my first grow bed. 🙂 I have just sown spinach and put in some sweet potato cuttings.

My solar power dreams are still alive and well. Besides running the 1000W Bosch strimmer I can also boil hot water in a 800W 0.5 litre electric kettle – during the day. Not at night as it would quickly run down my small battery bank. My solar array is quite small 720W at 24V. It is adequate for my current needs and works well. I am not sure if the law has changed. Back in 2014 you were permitted a solar array of a maximum of 1500W output for self consumption.

Ufesa 800W electric kettle

That’s all for tonight 🙂

Featured post
Picked Olives, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal, small holding, defender of - my meu girrasol creed :)

January

Is all but over. Weatherwise we have had a couple of cold weeks where you had frost and frozen pipes. But is has warmed up this week and some of the almonds have bloomed. It been a mixture of sunshine together with cloud cover and light rain.

almond trees, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve

LE300 wind turbine from Leading Edge, AlgarveThe little LE300 wind turbine has been helping keep the lights on during periods of poor insolation. I have been pruning my own trees around the property. I have been taking my time with this. It’s going well and I am not going anywhere. I had my first avocado thus year. Of the Hass' variety. Organic avocados, Hass variety, Algarve, Portugal

.fico em casa , over here , Algarve, Portugal oruned olive trees, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal

I have been experimenting with making cookies. The almond and lemon ones turned out decent. There weren’t many olives to be had last year but I managed to pick a few for pickling from the Belgian neighbours’ trees. Picked Olives, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve, Portugal, small holding, defender of - my meu girrasol creed :)

I currently have 5 dogs in the house. True four are still only puppies but they are driving me insane. 🙂 I really hope I can find good owners for them and soon.

organic farming, sweet potato, Algarve, Portugal, real transition lifestyle
Another first for me. 1 kg of sweet potato. Grown in a large pot. The ones in the ground didn't do well in the heavy clay soil.

Text to Speech

Cold January days so more time for reading, Due to my particular situation I can’t read books. As you can see I can read and write quite well well on the computer using standard ‘Accessibility’ tools and by improvising using different font/illumination settings.

Google-text-to-speech engine and a good read, the war on horror

I recently discovered Google Play books on my Android smartphone. It can use the Google text to speech engine which surprising works offline and works rather well. I ‘read’ “The War on Horror” which I found to be quite a good read. This is a free ebook. Brits would feel equally at home with the various themes explicitly presented or alluded to in this book. It brought back to the fore of my mind how we usually manage to achieve just mediocrity when aiming for excellence. If we started out aiming for just mediocrity the results are guaranteed to be dire.

Evie ebook Reader and Google Play Books on Android smartphones

I discovered an excellent ebook reader on the Android Download store, Google Play. The name of the application is Evie. It is a really good ebook reader! It has style and elegance and superb functionality. I am not sure who the creators/developers are but well done to them!

Evie, ebook reader for Android devices
Screenshot of Evie on my smartphone

Evie can use various text-to-speech engines including Google’s text-to-speech engine which surprisingly works offline. The voice of Brian (British english) is rather good. I use it to read .pdf books from my former degree courses, and technical manuals amongst other ebooks. You can change the engine. Amazon has gone the 100% cloud way. Their text-to-speech engine, Amazon Poly works only when you are connected to the internet. There are other text-to-speech engines that work offline. You can download and use these with Evie. Most of these require to be purchased but many offer a try-before-you-buy option.

Featured post

Share your Smartphone internet – Bluetooth

I decided to invest in a Bluetooth dongle to help me access the internet on my desktop etc via my smartphone. Why, I think is more secure in being less visible than a Wifi connection.

After having a look around I decided to go for the Plugable USB-bt4le from amazon. This is because it claimed be run on Linux. You can read the review here

And it did! However I had an issue when connecting on an unlocked smartphone that was on the Orange network. This forced me to dig into the world of Android development . It was a baptism of fire. 🙂 I spent and entire day and most of the night learning about Android’s adb (android debug bridge) and the android development environment.

Thanks to Canonical who maintain the software packages for Ubuntu, it is easy to install adb using the apt install adb command in Terminal.

Plagable bluetooth 4.0 on Ubumtu 18.04, Canonical, debian,

After digging around on the internet I found that tethering was set to use DUN and to disable this you had to run

sudo adb shell in Terminal

followed by the statement below after you enter shell in

shell@E####:/ $ settings put global tether_dun_required 0

I think removing the APN for the DUN setting from the mobile phone carrier (on the Orange network in my case) also helped as it seemed to re-enable DUN on reboot.

shell@E####:/ $ settings delete global tether_dun_apn=[ApnSettingV3]Orange Internet,orange.fr,,,orange,orange,,,,,208,01,0,DUN,,,true,0,,,,,,,spn,Orange F

Then reboot.

This did not solve the tethering problem entirely although it prevented the DUN (Dail-up Network)lookup on trying to connect.

What really got it working - Solution to Bluetooth tethering the Smartphone running Android 6.0.1

On your Android Smartphone Go to Settings

Turn on Bluetooth first (ensure you also have an internet connection although this can be done later ). Then

Settings → More → Tethering and Portable Hotspot

then Enable Bluetooth tethering.

And this should work! Unfortunately it seems you have to do this each time you turn Bluetooth on.

Credits:

Featured post

phpMyAdmin on Ubuntu 18.04

I had phpMyAdmin version 4.6 something running on php 7.2.24 on Ubuntu 18.04 linux.

I checked the version I had by running the following command in Terminal : apt show phpmyadmin

Package: phpmyadmin
Version: 4:4.6.6-5ubuntu0.5
Priority: extra
Section: universe/web
Origin: Ubuntu
Maintainer: Ubuntu Developers <ubuntu-devel-discuss@lists.ubuntu.com>
Original-Maintainer: Thijs Kinkhorst <thijs@debian.org>
Bugs: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+filebug
Installed-Size: 25.0 MB

I uninstalled the older version of phpMyAdmin via Terminal and running :

sudo apt remove phpmyadmin

These were originally installed from the Debian repository using Terminal and command line when I setup LAMP .

Do not use the autoremove command if you want the current version of php left in place. I also left the old phpMyAdmin database in place. Because I was not sure if it was needed by the new version.

My current php and phpMYAdmin versions are as shown in the image below

phpMyAdmin error - Warning in ./libraries/sql.lib.php#613

You can refer to this article here. phpMyAdmin never worked properly. When accessing tables in databases I got the following type error.

Warning in ./libraries/sql.lib.php#613

count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable etc….

After looking at various articles the best solution I think is the one I found at AskUbuntu.com . See the image below.

How to get rid of phpMyAdmin error - Warning in ./libraries/sql.lib.php#613

It is simple and very effective. And exemplifies the portability of phpMyAdmin. The other methods of removing the installed version of phpMyAdmin and installing a newer version look painful and are not guaranteed as the Debian repository may not have the latest version or version compatible with your current Php version.

Method:

  • Go to the phpMyAdmin website. Download the latest version in zip format (5.0.4 at the time of writing). Copy the hash number as well. This will enable you to verify the integrity of the downloaded file.
  • Verify the hash number. To do this, open Terminal, supply the path where the zip file has been downloaded and type sha256sum filename.zip . Verify the hash number is the same as that supplied by the phpMyAdmin download site. See image below.
  • Unzip the file.
  • Copy the unzipped folder and all it’s contents to your public folder. On Ubuntu 18.04 running Apache 2.4.29 this is in ‘/var/html’ . You can renamed to folder to something shorter if you like.
  • Make a copy of config.sample.inc.php and rename it to config.inc.php.
  • Edit config.inc.php

Make sure you have the authentication part setup correctly as follows to use a cookie and your web server is correctly specified in host.

/* Authentication type */

$cfg['Servers'][$i]['auth_type'] = 'cookie';

/* Server parameters */

$cfg['Servers'][$i]['host'] = 'localhost';

$cfg['Servers'][$i]['compress'] = false;

$cfg['Servers'][$i]['AllowNoPassword'] = false;

  • Save config.inc.php
  • Launch phpMyAdmin by accessing the phpMyAdmin hosted folder.
  • In my case https://localhost/phpMyAdmin5/ You should get the phpMyAdmin login screen. See image below.

All done! 🙂

Spell Check not working in LibreOffice on Ubuntu 18.04

This even though the hunspell dictionary seems to been installed in LibreOffice.

The solution is to open Terminal and

 sudo apt install hunspell-en-gb

Credits

Thanks to @timothy at AskUbuntu.com for the phpMyAdmin solution.

Thanks to TrisquelUser on https://ask.libreoffice.org/en/question/78558/spell-check-not-working/

for the LibreOffice Spell Checker fix.

Featured post

Bonji and her Pups

Dogs, puppies, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira

We had Petit Gervais who was killed by poisoning in October. But there is a silver lining to this cloud. Bonji, my other bitch has had a litter of four pups. It was my fault I confess. I let her have a bit too much fun - with the boys. I had meant to sterilise her but the vet whom I use, - Sarah at NovaVet - in Tavira was off on maternity leave. She has had twins! Congratulations to you and the twins, Sarah :).

Bonji had the pups on the 5th of November so they are under a month old. Their fathers are various. I know not who. I only saw her couple with one – and he was a strange looking chap.

The pups have started a eating a bit of dog food but depend mainly on Bonji to keep them fed. Bonji finds this difficult. They are hungry little things. Their mother eats almost double her pre-pup diet but still finds it hard to feed them sometimes. And now they have some teeth so I imagine it must be even more uncomfortable.

Bonji was orphaned when she was a pup. She used to scream a lot and was a very angry pup. Her mother Roxy was also killed by poisoning along with a few other dogs of some of the neighbours . These puppies are very calm and happy and sleep a lot of the time. So we have peace and quiet. I dread when they will be able to clamber out of their makeshift enclosure of plastic pots. This occupies the living room floor. Bonji has the sofa.

She does a sterling job of keeping them clean. They are developing their own characters :). There is 1 girl and three chaps. I have named them Chubbs, Topman, BlackBoy and Conan. I hope to find good homes for them. I will keep one and am sending one to my niece.

Thanks for reading . This is it for now.

Featured post

Petit Gervais (Pipoca)

This is a tribute to my excellent dog, Petit Gervais – She was the runt of the litter and started her life as Pipoca (Popcorn) . She was the last pup of the litter up for adoption. She was a lively and inquisitive little dog if nervous. Pipoca suited her looks but not her character. I renamed her Petit Gervais after watching the excellent BBC production of ‘Les Miserables’ in Portugal on RTP2.

She didn’t have very a good sense of self preservation. Two weeks after I agreed to adopt her a terrible event befell her. I think she was hit by a car causing her hind leg to be irreparably damaged. I never saw either the event or her - as she crawled to her old home where my Portuguese neighbours found her and rushed her to the vet. When she returned home she was one less leg. Being three legged did not help with her nervousness. But she slowly overcame this and just before she was killed she trusted me completely and would always come when I called her and even learned to position herself so that I could lift her up onto the electric quadbike. By the end of her life she finally worked out my limitations and knew how to make her presence known to me to avoid being stepped on.

Her three legged gait prevented her from walking on a lease as she bounced up and down. One english friend suggested I name her Ping Pong. Bust she could run as fast as my other dog, Bonji.

This year she learnt to kayak with and loved it! She loved being on the sandbar whilst I picked cockles. She also became confident in the water and learnt to swim very well with her three legs.

Petit Gervais was a very good guard dog - of the alerter type.

This is probably one of the reason she was killed by poison on 5th October, (Bonfire night). Poisoned meat. From the security cam video footage, it was fast acting. Twenty minutes from when she came in to when she died. When I found her she has only two minutes left. I have a good idea why she was targeted. There are certain people who wish to pass through and around my property undetected. Hunting activities being one such a reason. The other is localized politics which does partly but not entirely encompass the hunter/gatherers mentioned. There are some very evil people here. I am not a good person but Petit Gervais was an innocent animal. I even used to keep her locked in at nights so that she wouldn’t disturb the hunter/gather types.

I buried her in her blanket under the carob tree behind the house. Farewell Petit Gervais , Peeps, Pipoca. She was just two and a half. I now keep poor Bonji mostly tied or locked up.

Other stuff going on in October. It’s been pretty quiet. I stay at home mainly, pruning my trees etc. I replaced the batteries of my Solar P.V system but I have yet to finish the full installation. They are working fine as they are at the moment.

olive trees for sale, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira

I have had a trickle of fruit coming through this month like apples, guavas and persimmon. The Persimmon was just one tree and I ate the last one today :). I have sold a few olive trees and aim to sell some more.

apples, kaki, persimmon, guavas, Belnonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve

Over and out.

Featured post

September 2020 Scribble

It’s the end of the month and definitely the end of the summer. The temperature at night is pleasantly cool and it hasn’t been unbearably hot for more than five-six hours during daylight.

The end of September has been quite bereft of fruit for me. I only have a few apples that are ready now. As for vegetables, not doing so great either. A few tomatoes coming along and got the usual cabbage (Cove Galega) and potted lettuce. The Cove Galegas are dying off this year and I will have to replant next year by the look of it. The plants can last a few years if you take off the floral stems as they begin to grow.

I have planted some sweet potatoes and am planting more. Will have a dig next month to see what’s there from the first batch I planted. It apparently takes four months for the tubers to form.

Been in the Ria Formosa catching cockles about twice a week. Today was for the last time this year. For me anyway. I am not sure if there is a closed season for cockles in Portugal. According to this bulletin from the DGRM - (not sure what this stands for but it covers the Portuguese Fisheries Department) there doesn’t seem to be a closed season.

And I managed to pick up this good size clam – I think it is an Ameijoa Boa 🙂

Over 5 cm in length and only the second one I have found. Also tested the electric trawling motor with the lithium ion battery pack. The worked well together. I haven’t been fishing as yet but I intend to as soon as I find some suitable bait.

Have got any olives of my own this year worth mentioning. But I have been picking up some decent sized ones off the trees of my Belgian neighbours as I prune along. I have managed to get a sufficient amount for pickling.

That’s about all for this month. I have mainly just been on my own property so haven't been affected by the COV!D-19 restrictions as they are. I have a lot that needs to be done around the place so it’s fine. 🙂

Featured post

A more relaxed 2020 summer

As the title says this summer has been pretty chilled out. These bees in the peach tree were stressed out looking for a new home. They left after 3 days.

We are now in September and still very hot. This about nine a.m, once the sun comes up. The nights are pleasantly cool.

Here’s what been going on in July and August. It’s generally been too hot to work outside during the day. You have to start very early to work comfortably in the field. Unfortunately I still can’t wake early enough. But it’s not been bad. I am okay with my performance :). I am also learning new stuff and looking for alternative types of work which I can do – part-time.

Starting with the Mango tree.

Mango, algarve, Belnonte, Kent variety, manga D'algarve
Kent variety

This had been growing promisingly in a pot for the last two years. It's of the Kent variety. This year it gave me a mango which wasn’t bad. But then disaster. Suddenly the growing tips shriveled and died and now all the leaves have dropped off. I think I may have not irrigated it properly for a few days during this very hot summer. Fortunately, it seems to be recovering.

Grapes.

One of the vines planted back in 2017 finally gave me grapes. Good ones :). They are of the Italia variety.

Nashi pear.

nashi pear, nashi pera, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira

I have two of these. This year one of them has given me over a dozen good pears. The biggest was the size of a tennis ball. The are very sweet when sun ripened. Some type of insect seems fond of them too and I think it lays it eggs inside as the puncture leads to the core. I need to address this to increase next year’s yield.nashi pera, nashi pear, Belmonte, Algarve, Luz de Tavira

I have had about half a dozen tomato plants that grew well and gave me a couple good size tomatoes at the end of July.

sun rioened tomatoes, Belmonte, Juz de Tavira, algarve

Planted some more in August which are still quite small and only just beginning to flower. I have to be more pro active and really make more of an effort to grow more vegetables. I planted onions in August but they didn’t take.

I have sweet potato now given to me by a nice Swedish lady. We picked carobs and almonds together. This year the carobs have a good price backed by the Government initiative to support local producers. It was €12 for 15 kg. As good as almonds were last year.

carobs, alfaroba, Belnonte, Luz de Tavira

The dogs are well. Bonji is on heat so I have to keep her locked in. I let her have a week of fun. I plan on getting her spayed soon. I take Peeps with me when I go out including cockling. She likes the excursions :). cockle, berbigão, Fuseta, Torre de Aires, Ria Formosa, Algarve

The kayaking has been good for me this summer. I still haven’t been fishing due to lack of proper bait.

Olives.

oliveiras para vender, olive trees for sale, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira
Olive trees for sale

Irrigating the olives at the bottom via a hose pipe is time consuming but they have grown well. Some of them have even got a few olives on them. I hope to sell some of them and transplant the rest around my property.

Renewable energy, Solar PV, battery bank , lead acid, Algarve

My solar P.V. system is non functional at the moment. My lead acid battery bank is exhausted and was getting seriously over charged by the charge controller which is a simple PWM (pulse width modulation ) type. I didn’t realise that this type of charge controller dumps all the current from the solar panel array into the batteries! It depends on the battery voltage to cut-off. You cannot use it to charge an individual depleted battery from a large PV array. The battery boils, gets very hot and has a good chance of exploding. This is what was happening as the batteries aged and their capacity to store charge diminished. The charge controller continued put the now excessive amount of current into them causing the batteries to seriously overheat, the electrolyte evaporate and the plates to buckle . This leads to rapid complete battery failure.

So I am working on a replacement plan. That’s all for now. Until next time!

Featured post

Finally! Pushed the boat out.

Torre de Aires, near Pinheiro, Tavira, Algarve Portugal, canoeing
Pushing the boat out

And I am really happy that after a long time I can post to this category.

So summer is well under way it’s very hot and it's ‘o tempo do berbigão’ although I haven’t yet indulged 😀

I had to make an concerted effort to get my boat to the water, being challenged for transport.

I have an electric bicycle type scooter and a small excellent trailer that I got from On the Rocks Bike shop in Olhão. I had to modify the connecting bar in order to get the canoe to fit. I replaced the connecting bar with a interchangeable standard 50mm diameter by 3 metre galvanized hollow steel rod.The ground clearance I ended up with is quite low, about 4 inches but I made the journey to Pinheiro including traversing speed bumps without incidence.

Prior planning and preparation.

I decided to moor the kayak/canoe in the Ria Formosa. So I had to first secure a bit of chain to the river bed to which I attached a home made bouy. The camera passed the underwater test. I also made a shroud of standard plastic shade screen which works quite well. I also made rollers of black irrigation pipe to help move the canoe over the ground.

The crossing.

Yesterday we made the crossing with Bonji to Praia Paríoso beach from Torre de Aires. We went out as the tide was coming in. So it was hard work paddling out. A bit windy too but there weren’t any waves to make the journey a bumpy ride. The Critter2, an open plastic 2 man kayak, is a river kayak/canoe and has quite a flat bottom. Bonji was very relaxed . Coming back was easier as the current was with us. I lost some time by taking a wrong channel and so had to double back. There were a lot of mullet and perch native to the Ria Formosa, leaping out of the water. They seemed to be having fun. 🙂 .

After beaching the canoe we walked across the dune, about 250 m to the beach with the real ocean. The beach goes on for miles and was deserted.

The real ocean
This is the map of where we were.

That’s all for now!

Featured post

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!

Featured post

May and roll on Summer!

I have been recovering from the Covid-19 virus this month and been taking it easy.

This week I have been making an effort to clear grass and weeds that have regrown. We are required by law to do this by the end of this month to help reduce the risk of fires. Summer is definitely here with inside temperatures of about 27ºc max. Here the dogs Bonji and PG are cooling down inside.

To help me I have been using some light machinery. I don’t have a tractor and don’t really need one now.

I use a strimmer to get to the difficult places and to cut over the irrigation pipes.

Been using this battery operated 36V Black and Decker strimmer quite a bit all over the property.

Black+Decker 36V battery operated strimmer ,  England

It cuts really well for what it is. It has 2Ah battery and runs for about 20 mins at full tilt. I really need another spare battery. The motor’s power is quite minuscule. It’s not rated. But if it runs for 20 mins.

Then (20mins/60 mins) x 2Ah = 0.667 Amps Hence the power of the motor is given by I Amps x V volts 0.667Amps x36 Volts= 24 Watts .

I am quite shocked. I am surprised at how small the motor is in terms of power has because it does an outstanding job! It cuts through some tough weeds. I changed the standard 1.5mm gauge line to 2.4 mm. It doesn’t auto feed with this but helps me cut through the thicker weeds. I bought it on amazon.co.uk who shipped it over. I bought the battery separately and modified so that I can use an external battery pack if I need to. I tried 12V 2.5 Ah lead acid batteries x3. Still quite heavy on your back at around 6kg. The machine Black and Decker Model GLC3630LB-XJ weighs just 3 Kg (with the lithium ion battery ) and is a delight to use.

Correction: Those lead acid batteries are 5Ah and weigh 5.4kg on your back. I had to press them into service today after the lithium ion battery charger gave up the ghost. 6/062020

The real work horse has been the Italian made BNF 502, motorized scythe. The american built Briggs and Stratton 190cc petrol engine. It now takes me about 8 hours to clear my property with it. Look at the teeth. 🙂 I grease and oil the blade before making a run. Shame to have had to cut all those wild flowers.

On the growing front. Harvested the fava beans this month. I get a handful of Physalis peruviana (Cape gooseberry) berries every other day. And now I have some sun ripened apricots which are very good. No worms so far.

Still growing my lettuce in pots which as you see works well for me. I need to plant another batch soon.

alface, favas, Belmonte, Luz de Tavira, Algarve

The irrigation pipe to the young olives on the western border was a good investment. It saves me and didn’t cost the earth. I have palnted a few pumpkins next to thes young olive trees. We have to see how then get on.

olive, olive oil , Belmonte, Algarve

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading!

Featured post

Spring 2020!

Spring 2020 Algarve, Portugal

Spring it definitely here! It’s the last day of the month so I though I better post a blog for April.

I am not feeling very well today but best foot forward. I think the dreaded virus , the one that begins with the letter “C” is having a second go. I didn’t manage to quite shake it off after the first bout and it was still lurking within.

So with the lock down here I haven’t been doing much in April. In the agricultural sector anyway. Look at my poor excuse of a vegetable garden. horta, algrave , Portugal

You can see a few tomatoes plants I planted a few days back. The spinach is really struggling. I sowed the prepared patch densely a month ago but the results have been poor.

But look at the cabbage. Portuguese staple variety - “ Cove Galega”.

Cove Galega

I planted a couple next to several fruit trees and it has worked out well. I planted a few broad beans too. Just for myself. I didn’t bother planting extra for the people - ‘o Povo’ this year. favas, Algarve Portugal

Olive trees. I transplanted a few and have put in some irrigation so hopefully they should grow well if slowly.

olive oil, extra virgin, Belmonte

This is such a nice stone wall belonging to property just opposite to me. Hand crafted stone by stone – by craftsmen and labourers for the very wealthy here. A lot of sweat and some blood goes into building these walls. The craftsman and the labourer are not necessarily the same. But without doubt, both bear me a grudge. This being as I neither pay their wages nor work for their bosses.. . Ce la vie. In the foreground you can see one of my young pomegranate trees which is doing well due to plentiful amount of rain had here in the Algarve this spring.

Sweat and blood and a pomegranate tree

Indeed, you can see here the almonds on the almond trees growing niceiy ad the almonds plumping out. I have some plum trees but they seem to have been attacked by fungi (peach curl leaf) and some parasite that is eating the leaves. So most of the fruit has dropped of. I will give them an second spray with some insecticide this weekend.

almonds on trees, algarve, portugal

The guava trees are still in their red winter livery and the apple trees are still nude of foliage. This is because it still cold at nights. guava tree, algarve, portugal

Here is a fine apricot tree. Hopefully the black fly won’t ruin the fruit. I am trying to trap.

And here is a fine persimmon (sharon fruit) tree. it is still young just three years old so may not bear any fruit.

Finally a the bottom of the spread where self seeded olives and almonds are growing. And no, I don’t live in that caravan normally. 🙂

Portugal, East Algarve, Belmonte, amendoiras, oliverias , azeite, extra virgin olive oil
The spread 🙂
Featured post
Ubuntu 18.04

Life after MS Windows 7

Microsoft Windows 7 ended support in January 2020. What this means to MS Windows users like myself is that your computer will be increasing at risk as it is no longer patched for security vulnerabilities by Microsoft. Ubuntu 18.04

Burying your head in the sand is not an option. However if you are using an island configuration which never has to connect to other computers or the internet you can carry on as you are.

The other two options are to upgrade to Windows 10 or move to another operating system such as Linux.

I have been looking into Ubuntu Linux from Canonical. Their latest desktop version is 18.04 which you can download here.

If you have older machines with 32 bit operating systems you will have to use another distribution of Linux , as Canonical, the owners of Ubuntu only support 64 bit cpus (central processing units) . Linux itself dropped support for 32 bit cpus in 2012.

I haven't tested any of these as yet but here are a couple of 32 bit distributions.

Ubuntu Linux 18.04 LTS (aka Bionic Beaver :))

This is what I have been testing. You can download the .iso file from (link)here and create a bootable USB or DVD with it. You will also need the Rufus program to burn the .iso. Full instructions can be found here:

Why Ubuntu Linux 18.04 LTS?

  • The LTS (Long Term Support) for starters. This means the operating system is supported for 5 years by Canonical so you will receive security patches. 18.04 LTS will be supported for 5 years until April 2023.
  • The Snap App installer ensures you download software that has been tested and checked for malware by the developers.
  • The GNOME 3 desktop is delightful to use.

The results

I am quite impressed. It picked up and installed the drivers for my network card and wireless worked straight away so I was able to connect to the internet and print to my HP 2600 printer without having to anything.

The only major drawback was there was no storage i.e persistence.. Any programs installed and changes made were lost once you turned the computer off.

Installing Linux with Persistence on a USB stick

The Rufus v3.8 has the ability to create a bootable usb version of linux on a USB drive. See image below. However this does not work for Ubuntu 18.04.4 There is some bug that has not been fixed apparently. (Mosty, 2020).

Rufus iso bootable usb

I found this article on Foss Linux (Adel, 2019) and had a go using the Gparted application on the bootable Ubuntu USB created from the .iso image. You need another spare USB drive on which to install Ubuntu with persistence if you are booting Ubuntu from a USB drive rather than a DVD.

After using the Gparted app. to delete all partitions on the target USB, I began the installation.

(imagGpartede)

I selected Normal installation and Something else as recommend by the article.

Ubuntu normal (2 Ubuntu something elseimages)

Select the drive to partition. Also make sure the correct drive is selected in “Device for boot Menu” at the bottom.select correct drive, Ubuntu

I partitioned the drive with a FAT32, where the installation goes. You can give the mount point any name. This is a Primary partition. This should be a minimum size of 5.3 Gigabytes.Ubuntu FAT32

I next created a logical drive with a ext4 journaling partition (“ / ” mount point) and a swap file partition.

The swap file partition should be a minimum of 4.096 Gigabytes.logical linux swap partition

The ext4 journaling partition is what gives the installation the capability of persistence. I found you can't see the FAT32 partition by default. successful Ubuntu installation with this configurtion

The Gparted application doesn't seem to get installed by default when you install Ubuntu.

You can setup Live Patch to keep you secure once you boot up,

Ubuntu Live Patch

and install Apps with the Ubuntu Snap-in Application Manager.

Ubuntu Snap apps

All in all I am happy with Ubuntu 18.04 and am getting to grips with finding my way around this new operating system 🙂

Note: THe FAT32 on which the Ubuntu OS is installed is not visible with File Manager even as Administrator fat32 partition hidden on Ubuntu

Sources:

H. Edel 2019, https://www.fosslinux.com/10212/how-to-install-a-complete-ubuntu-on-a-usb-flash-drive.htm

Foss, 2020 https://itsfoss.com/lightweight-linux-beginners/

Ubuntu Desktop , 2020 https://ubuntu.com/download/desktop

Featured post

Using readily available biomass keeps energy bills down.

wood burning stove
Back in 2014

Using readily available biomass such as cut logs can help keep your overall energy bills down. If you are lucky to access to woody biomass which you can harvest sustainably

or access to wood residues like off-cuts it makes sense to spend time and energy collecting and processing these.

As it is on a small scale it is environmentally friendly and does not require huge amounts of energy to produce unlike wood chips or pellets.

During the winter months we use a lot more heat energy to stay warm. This can be in the form of gas central heating or electric underfloor heating or stand alone gas or electric heaters. In either case they are expensive to run. If you like your hot bath and showers in the winter this can add significantly to your energy bills. Using readily available biomass such as wood can help keep your overall energy bills down.

How much money can be saved using biomass as a form of heating.

Here is my own example. Metrics help separate fact from fiction. I like my hot showers and baths during winter. However the cost of electrically heating water at current energy prices is not trivial. [/lang en]

wood burning stove
2020

Let's look at the cost of heating a 100 litre tank from 18ºC to 50ºC.

The specific heat capacity of water is 4200 J per kg per degree Kelvin. This is the energy required to raise the temperature of 1 kg of water by 1 degree Kelvin (or Celcius).

The temperature change is 50ºC – 20ºC = 30ºC

100 litres of water is 100 kg

The energy E, in joules required to heat the water is given by E = mass x specific heat capacity x change in temperate,

So , E = 100 kg x 4200 Joules x 30ºC => E = 12600000J (Joules)

1 J/sec = 1 Watt (W)

Hence 12600000J /(3600s) 3500 Wh or 3.5kWh

The actual time it takes for me to electrically heat the tank is 2.5 hours.

I have a 1000 Watt heater.

Therefore 1000 x (2.5h ) = 2500Wh

This is equivalent to 2.5 kWh (kiloWatts)

It would appear I use 1kWh of electricity less that estimated. This maybe be due to the fact the water sinside the tank remains at a higher temperature that the estimated 20ºC

when I start heating electrically.

I get my electricity from the energy co-operative, Coopérnico .

This is their 2019 tariff for bi-horário.

So heating the water during off peak hours (vazio) costs 0.0987 cents per kiloWatt hour (kWh)

So 0.0987€ x 2.5kWh = 0.24675€

(7 days x 4) x 0.24675€ = €6.909

With IVA (VAT) at 23% = €8.4981 is what I can save a month.

I have a hot bath by boiling a pot of 5 litres of water on my wood burner. Doing this 2-3 times a week during winter is worth my while. Besides boiling bath water I can also do a little cooking on top of the wood burner to make further savings.

Featured post

Our Olive Oil from the Algarve, Portugal

Locally produced Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Algarve, Portugal

Locally produced Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The olive oil we made came from a variety of olives. These olives grew  and ripened under the Algarve sun in southern Portugal.

The black varieties included Cornicabra and Galega gave us extra virgin oil of 0.7 degree.

Galega olives, Algarve , Portugal

Galega olives

The green varieties of olives produced extra virgin oil of 0.5 degree. These olives were more of a spherical type and some of them were huge with diameters exceeding 3 cm. I have yet to identify these varieties. Most of these trees were grafted by the Portuguese over 50 to 200 years ago.

For an explanation of the degree of olive oil see the previous article.

Cornicabra olives, Algarve Portugal

Cornicabra olives image credited to viveiros da bairrada

The healthy benefits are of Extra Virgin Oil are much vaunted .

The verified facts are:

  • Rich in anti-oxidants so a good nuero protector.

  • Unrefined olive oil is best as it is a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins.

  • The antioxidants contained in Extra Virgin Oil oil do not break down on heating. This is great as as it means you can cook with extra Virgin Olive oil without loss of the antioxidants. This brings me to the myth of cold pressed olive oil. What temperature is this “cold” exactly? Because room temperature varies from 18ºC to about 24ºC depending on the individual. Unrefined Extra virgin Oil starts to congeal at temperatures below 16ºC so you would get very little oil pressing at these temperatures in the cold season of October to December. For this reason olive oil presses have to supply some heat during the extraction process. It does not affect the beneficial properties of the olive oil nor affect the oil's excellent taste which should be peppery ans grassy. Some Extra virgin oils are slightly bitter.

  • Cooking with Extra Virgin Oil helps prevent the break down and loss of beneficial nutrients like vitamin C in vegetables.

  • A diet that includes regular amounts Extra Virgin Oil oil has been proved to reduced bone fractures and loss of bone in the elderly.

Facts not completely verified are:

  • Reduces the risk of Stroke and Heart Attack. This could be true as the Extra Virgin Oil would replace other fats in one´s diet responsible for cholesterol and restricted flow in the blood vessels.

“Where can I get some of this fine Extra Virgin Olive oil of yours?”

If you are in Hillingdon, West London or High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, we have a limited stock of this Portuguese unrefined Extra Virgin Olive Oil in 1 litre bottles. Email  ####@lineone.net for details.

Sources:

11 Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil That You Can’t Ignore

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28143667 (refers to bone loss)

https://www.viveirosdabairrada.com

Setting up SSL/HTTPS in WordPress Manually

Prerequisites: A web server with SSL enabled. This method requires you to troubleshoot issues manually and edit WordPress files. However this is a permanent and more performance optimized solution. Performance gains are due to the fact the requested content does not have to be parsed by an additional plugin before it is displayed in the web page. In addition, it gives you more control over your website's security.

Steps

  1. Log into the WordPress Dashboard.
  2. Roll your mouse over Settings in the navigation menu, then click General.
  3. In the WordPress Address (URL) field, enter your https address.
  4. Enter your https address in the Site Address (URL)  field. 
  5. Click the Save Changes button on the bottom of the screen. 

Note: If you get an error to the effect of "Error connecting to web server" after savings the changes - the problem lies at the hosting provider's end . Some hosting providers use a different IP for hosting http: and https: and you will have to ensure the "A" record of your https domain is pointing to the correct one.

Next, you need to set up WordPress redirects from HTTP to HTTPS by adding the following code to your .htaccess file.

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]
</IfModule>

If you want to force SSL and HTTPS on your WordPress admin area or login pages, then you need to configure SSL in the wp-config.php file. Simply add the following code above the "That's all, stop editing!" line in your wp-config.php file:

define('FORCE_SSL_ADMIN', true);

This line allows WordPress to force SSL / HTTPs in WordPress admin area. Once you do this, your website is now fully setup to use SSL / HTTPS, but you will still encounter mixed content errors.

Mixed content errors are caused by sources (images, scripts, or stylesheets) that are still loading using the insecure HTTP protocol in the URLs. If that is the case, then you will not see a secure padlock icon in your website’s address bar. The majority of these incorrect URLs will be images, files, embeds, and other data stored in your WordPress database.

What you need to do is find all mentions of your old website URL in the database that starts with http and replace it with your new website URL that starts with https .

You can do this by installing and activating the “Better Search Replace” plugin. However, The free version of the "Better Search and Replace" plugin is not useful and even harmful as you cannot see what changes have been made. I used the “Search & Replace” plugin by Inpsyde GmbH. It is not supported anymore but works in WordPress 6.1.1

      

Credits

https://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-add-ssl-and-https-in-wordpress/