Friday, December 26, 2008
Neatly Stacked of course - our woodstore.
The shortest day came and went and resulted in a positive change in the weather. For the past few days we have had bright sunshine and daytime temperatures of 21 degrees C. The garden is still very wet and a few days of strong sunshine and breeze will help to dry out the soil and begin to warm the earth as spring approaches. Energy has become an everyday consideration in our lives here in Toriello. As a part of our endeavours to remain environmentally friendly and as sustainable as possible we have started collecting wood from the beaches to burn in the workshop. We have just received a delivery of wood for the house woodburner and taken advantage of the low fuel prices to stock up our supply of diesel for the central heating boiler....although we prefer where possible to use the woodburner. We are pleased with the delivery of wood as it contains a good mix of ash, oak, beech and birch.....hardly any eucalyptus which is good as it doesn't burn that efficiently. In addition to the woodburner we use the sun and the south facing aspect of the house to gain most advantage of the warmth where possible. This winter has seen us install added insulation to doors and windows to reduce drafts and keep the house warmer for longer. The energy considerations in the garden range from ensuring vegetables are planted in the correct position for light, heat and sunshine, to maximising the soil's fertility by adding organic matter when and where possible. We compost all vegetable and garden waste, add woodash from the fires, collect and compost leaves for leaf mould and of course......add manure, kindly delivered by our farmer neighbour and friend Luis (yes another one) or his son Luis (yes, yet another one).We continue to build up our stocks of organic matter and continue to look for additional sources. This year Luis (the one and only) has added barrowloads of roadside dirt to the flower beds and it has improved the soil no-end. It sounds bizzare - roadside dirt but it comprises of a good blend grit, sand and organic matter that has collected over the years and only serves to narrow the lanes and play host to many weeds. The network of country lanes around our area are mostly narrow and without names - here they are known as caminos. It has only been for the past 20 or so years that most of these lanes have had a proper road surface. As we await the spring energies from the sunshine and longer daytime periods we have started to think about crop rotation, varities and range of vegetable and salad crops to ensure we make the most of our space and abilities........We are looking forward to be able to get out into the garden and begin the work. We wish you a very Happy Christmas, Good Health and Prosperity in your adventures in 2009.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Winter beckons: wild and windy weather, hail and rain, cold and damp. The garden is wet with leaves collecting in borders and in hedges: awaiting gathering to add to our leaf mould. The woodburner beckons around mid-afternoon and provides some welcome warmth and comfort. Snow has hit the nearby mountains which glow bright in the rare glimpse of midday sun. Luis has returned from a week away in Barrios de la Vega at his family home (processing piggies). Laden up as usual with fruit, vegetables various cuts of meat and collection of metal rods to build plant frames to prevent our citrus from strong winds and salty sea mists.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
This year the month of November is a particularly wet one, it still remains warm and as yet we have not had any frost and the warm sunshine we still get is very nice and allows us to continue with some little jobs. It was only last week that we cut the wild flower meadow and we have delayed the covering of the orange tree to protect it against the cold - this year we will cover it in an attempt to protect it from the cold, strong winds and sea mist to increase the chances of it blossoming for the first time.
As the soil is on the wet side, we hope to be able to plant some onions to harvest in May in the near future. The vegetable plot continues to provides us with good organic ingredients to use in the kitchen. We are starting to harvest the last of the lamb's lettuce we sowed earlier as a trial to see if we could extend its season. The carrots sown for the same reason are doing very well and we will start harvesting Jerusalem artichokes any time- we introduced my sister Rita to them and the whole family now appreciates them. Over all, the vegetable plot has proven to be such a rewarding hobby. We have obtained our own organic vegetable seeds- Thanks Gordon for those extra packets of seeds, they are much appreciated. We are specially proud of how much we have reduced the use of pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers with our home made and organic alternatives that can be made with a variety of plants. We successfully used rhubarb as a fungicide and horsetail both as an insecticide and fungicide. The homemade organic fertilisers based on nettles and comfrey were extensively used in the garden which continues to evolve as more beds are created and our stock of plants increase. I continue to design and make pebble mosaics to use around the garden, the latest are intended for in front of the shed - photos of this will be posted when they are in situ. The chair business is also keeping us busy during this wet period. We continue to enjoy our walks and the latest ones have been around the coastal areas near us, the area of Torimbia gave us such spectacular views.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Now well and truly back in Asturias - Autumn is here with lovely colours forming in the deciduous woodland and scrub. We are experiencing wetter than average weather with little chance for the ground to dry out between downpours. We have harvested the remainder of the apples and collected walnuts from the caminos. The Chestnut Festival in Arriondas gave us an opportunity to demonstrate cane and rush work - as at other events we took along a few completed chairs for sale and hoped that we might sell one or two. The two-day festival comprises of a large furniture and artisan marquee ( where we were) and lots of outdoor stalls selling crafts, cheeses, honey, and of course chestnuts. Lots of people come into town to visit the festival and other associated events. On the first day we had a lot of interest but made no sales. On day two.....we sold every single chair and stool we took and once again had a lot of people asking for restoration work. Luis even got his picture in the regional newspaper and given a crystal trophy for participating!
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Luis went to his Sister's for a week and I stayed behind to l.ook after the cats and the garden. All went well until I took a walk along the camino with Indiana Jones and Lara Croft (you know who you are!!!). I slipped when pole vaulting a wall and badly sprained my ankle - oouch! Healing well and begining to weight bear. Asturias and town have been very busy and buzzing over August (the main holiday season here) and it is good to see it reverting to its quieter and tranquil hum. Luis will report on the tomato trials in a later post in the mean time a few photos for you include scenes from a local fiesta and street market.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
As you may be aware, I recently started experimenting with making pebble mosaics using the indirect method and the results have been very good. We collect the pebbles from the local beaches, good hunting grounds for different sizes and colours. I perfected the technique and recently had an opportunity to show Rita and Alfredo, during their visit to La Pasera, how to make this type of mosaic- they are familiar with making mosaics as the romans used to do applying the "opus tessellatum" method. Those of you who have visited us may have noticed, on our living room wall, the mosaic they made for us. The picture of the mosaic shown is part of a set that will be used as a series of stepping stones leading onto the garden tap.
The weather remains mixed and the rainfall is less, we were able to take the hammock out for a few days. In the vegetable garden, the salad crops, mongetout, beetroot, leeks, rhubarb, spinach and courgettes are doing very well but some of the casualties of the wet weather such as the onions are not doing very well and we may loose the entire crop if the wet weather persists. I have almost given up the thought of sowing more french beans as this crop likes hot and drier conditions. The tomatoes this year are doing well in spite of a rocky start. We are running a trial to see if two varieties of blight resistant tomatoes bought in the UK out-perform the local varieties. Last year by now we had lost all the tomato plants.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Asturias is not known for its facilities outside of the towns and cities, unless that is you happen to spot a small bar nestled in the corner of a sleepy village........don't count on it being open. Coming home one night last week Luis asked me if I could stop on the verge so he could make a call if you know what I mean. Out he stepped into the darkness, the stars above twinkling brightly, when a grunt and a scream was heard. Along the way he had found a nettle free spot complete with resident Wild Boar. I will let you work it out which one grunted.
We are making progress in the garden with some of the hard landscaping and a couple of new beds. Luis is working hard on the vegetable garden and painting the wood work, the kittens are growing well and enjoying the boom in mice and shrews at this time of year. They enjoy playfighting as the sun goes down, ready for their food around 8pm.
The coast is interesting at this time of year with low and high tides bringing tons of driftwood and fallen trees and branches onto the beaches. Rough seas have once again given us a great show down on at the blowholes in Gaudamia. Ribadesella remains quiet with a few extra tourists at weekends and bank holidays.