Friday, December 26, 2008


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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......

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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. 

With lots of winter vegetables in the garden it is an ideal time to make substantial vegetable based soups, broths and casseroles - home made bread - a glass of wine......perfect. The cats spend more time indoors but soon get restless and venture out to hunt and stalk. Walks out have been shorter and less frequent. We have identified a good source of mistletoe to collect nearer Christmas  - it grows in abundance here on old apple trees. Although parasitic, we will attempt to introduce it to one of our older trees in the hope it will colonise and grow.