Category Archives: Sustainable Living

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.

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

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

A Short Autumn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sun ripened tomatoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caldera / Caldeira

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July – more of the same

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June Continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer is here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The grapes are coming along.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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

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

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!