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/

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. 🙂

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!

Securing your WordPress site with a little code.

WordPress Brute Force Attacks, WordPress Development
Brute force attempts ro crack passwords

Table of Contents

Introduction.

Limiting the number of login attempts.

Denying xmlrpc Requests.

Hiding your wp-login.php file.

Credits.

Updated: 3rd January 2023

Introduction.

Websites are increasing under brute force hacking attempts and distributed denial of service attacks (DDOS) .

As a WordPress website administrator you can secure your site with a little bit of code if you feel confident enough. There are security plugins for WordPress should you wish to go down that route. I haven’t tried any of them and so cannot make a recommendation. The advantages of not using unnecessary plugins is increased code processing efficiency and hence better performance of a website. In addition there is the benefit from the security perspective of avoiding the possibility of getting stuck with outdated and unsupported plugins.

The three setups described below that I recommend are limiting the number of login attempts , denying xmlrpc requests and hiding your wp-admin.php page.

Ideally, you should not edit the functions.php file of the theme you are using. This is because changes will be lost when the theme is updated by the theme’s developers. Instead you should create a child theme and edit the functions.php of this.

Here is a link on how to create a child theme. https://developer.wordpress.org/themes/advanced-topics/child-themes/

Limiting the number of login attempts.

To do this you can put the following code in your WordPress theme’s functions.php file.

// code to limit no. of login attempts - lock for 30 mins function check_attempted_login( $user, $username, $password ) {
if ( get_transient( 'attempted_login' ) ) {
$datas = get_transient( 'attempted_login' );
if ( $datas['tried'] >= 3 ) {
$until = get_option( 'transient_timeout' . 'attempted_login' );
$time = time_to_go( $until );
return new WP_Error( 'too_many_tried', sprintf( __( 'ERROR: You have reached authentication limit, you will be able to try again in %1$s.' ) , $time ) );
}
}
return $user;
}
add_filter( 'authenticate', 'check_attempted_login', 30, 3 );
function login_failed( $username ) {
if ( get_transient( 'attempted_login' ) ) {
$datas = get_transient( 'attempted_login' );
$datas['tried']++;
if ( $datas['tried'] <= 3 ) set_transient( 'attempted_login', $datas , 1800 ); } else { $datas = array( 'tried' => 1
);
set_transient( 'attempted_login', $datas , 1800 );
}
}
add_action( 'wp_login_failed', 'login_failed', 10, 1 );
function time_to_go($timestamp)
{
// converting the mysql timestamp to php time
$periods = array(
"second",
"minute",
"hour",
"day",
"week",
"month",
"year"
);
$lengths = array(
"60",
"60",
"24",
"7",
"4.35",
"12"
);
$current_timestamp = time();
$difference = abs($current_timestamp - $timestamp);
for ($i = 0; $difference >= $lengths[$i] && $i < count($lengths) - 1; $i ++) {
$difference /= $lengths[$i];
}
$difference = round($difference);
if (isset($difference)) {
if ($difference != 1)
$periods[$i] .= "s";
$output = "$difference $periods[$i]";
return $output;
}
}
// end code to limit no. of login attempts - lock for 30 mins

You can change the lock out time by changing the third argument in the set_transient function which is currently set to 1800 seconds (30 mins.)
This code will stop bots making brute force dictionary attacks on your username and password.

Denying xmlrpc Requests.

XMLrpc is a legacy protocol that used to be used for WordPress ping backs. It relies on transmission of the username and password. So an attacker can use bots to try and gain access to your website by guessing at passwords and usernames.

Another from of attack that uses XMLrpc is DDOS where thousands and even hundreds of thousands of XMLrpc requests are made to a website overwhelming it.

Please refer to the excellent document by SiteGround in the Credits to understand more about the XMLrpc and the vulnerability it poses to WordPress websites.

To disable XMLrpc insert the following code in the functions.php file of your theme.

// refuse XMLRPC requests
add_filter( 'xmlrpc_enabled', '__return_false' );
//end of refuse XMLRPC requests

Important! Make sure you use the correct type of single quotes.

add_filter( 'xmlrpc_enabled', '__return_false' ); will work okay while add_filter( ‘xmlrpc_enabled’, ‘__return_false’ ); will generate Warning: Use of undefined constant ‘xmlrpc_enabled’ - assumed '‘xmlrpc_enabled’' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in functions.php in a child theme.

You can also add the above code to the wp-config-php file. Add it after the require_once(ABSPATH . 'wp-settings.php'); line. There are a couple more ways to block XMLrpc requests. One being via the web server’s configuration file and the other via a plugin. Please refer to the SiteGround and the debugbar documents.

Hiding your wp-login.php file.

Some experts discourage doing it this as wp-login.php gets updated when the core WordPress version gets updated. If you remember this and update the changes manually this method is fine. It is also inadvisable if your website needs to provide login access to site members other than a handful of admin and authors.

Hiding your wp-login.php is very effective as bots target the wp-login.php either with password crackers or a DDOS attack once they know your website is powered by WordPress. Each wp-login request is costly as as information gets sent to and from the MySql database of the WordPress site.

The steps.

1) Backup your wp-login.php file. Then rename it on the web server.
2) Create a new .php file with a text editor like Notepad, Notepad++, Gedit (on Linux Ubuntu) etc. Name it whatever you want as long as you can remember it when you login e.g foxy-roxy.php
3) Copy all the contents from wp-login.php into foxy-roxy.php or whatever you named the new file. Use Crtl+Alt to select all and Paste.
4) Search and replace every occurrence of wp-login.php with foxy-roxy.php or whatever the file is called. Save the file.
5) The next step is to update the default login and logout URLs This is done via
hooks in the theme’s functions.php .
Add the following code to functions.php of the theme.

add_filter( 'logout_url', 'custom_logout_url' );
function custom_logout_url( $default )
{
return str_replace( 'wp-login', 'foxy-roxy', $default );
}
add_filter( 'login_url', 'custom_login_url' );
function custom_login_url( $default )
{
return str_replace( 'wp-login', 'foxy-roxy', $default );
}

(remember to change ‘foxy-roxy’ to whatever your file is called. )

Add the following code to handle a safe logout and redirect to your home page.

// WP Redirect the user to the homepage after logout add_action('wp_logout','auto_redirect_after_logout');
function auto_redirect_after_logout(){
wp_safe_redirect( home_url() );
exit();
}
//end WP Redirect the user to the homepage after logout

6) Next test your new login page URL. Website name/ foxy-roxy.php. Attempting to login with Website name/wp-login should produce a resource not found error.

7) Finally, delete the renamed wp-login.php from the web server.

Notes: Known vunerabilities with the above method. Due to the login code being hard coded in several places in WordPress , the name of your secret login page can get exposed by calls made wp-admin by an intelligent attacker rather than a bot. I think this can be taken care of by some sort of redirect but I haven't got the time to experiment.

One way to mitigate against this is to limit access to the login process to trusted IPs. This is done by editing the .htaccess file in the root WordPress installation directory and adding the following code. Remember to backup your .htaccess file before editing it.

#Limit access to website administration
<Limit GET POST PUT>
order deny,allow
deny from all
# admins IP
allow from xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
</Limit>

where xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx is the IP number. You can add as many allow from IPs as you need or allow a whole Class C subnet with allow from xxx.xxx.xxx.0/24

In closing.

These three methods will certainly help secure your WordPress site and help counter the effects of a DDOS attack if you are subject to one.

Credits.

Phpot.com on Limiting the number of login attempts (09/12/2022):

https://phppot.com/wordpress/how-to-limit-login-attempts-in-wordpress/

SiteGround on XMLrpc (09/12/2022): https://www.siteground.com/blog/xmlrpc/#Brute_Force_Attacks_via_XMLRPC

Martin Aronovitch (09/12/2022): https://wpmudev.com/blog/hide-wordpress-login-page/#hidewithoutplugin

Debugbar.com How to block XML-RPC on WordPress 03/01/2023 https://www.debugbar.com/how-to-block-xml-rpc/

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

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

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.. 🙂

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

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

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.