Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Out with the old.........

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Luis here.
Since the passing of the Winter solstice and the beginning of the new year, we start looking forward to the days getting longer and our minds turn to the vegetable plot hoping that the soil dries and warms up following a wet Autumn. We can then start planting a type of onion that will crop in May, some early potatoes and garden peas after we have fertilised the soil with home made compost and leaf mould that we produce. Adding this organic matter enables us to improve the structure of the soil and break up the heavy clay soil. Another way of improving the soil structure is by planting green manure- usually oats as they have deep roots that help breaking up the soil, fix the nitrogen to the ground and add to the general fertility once it is dug back into the soil. We have recently collected many oak and chestnut leaves to ensure a good supply of leaf mould for next year.
This week we collected drift wood from the beach in Ribadesella to burn in the workshop. Every year, the Winter storms bring several tonnes of wood both from the river Sella and from out at sea, that is deposited on the beach and burns very well as it contains salt. The local Town Hall clears away the wood and as far as we can gather, tips it in landfill areas. Many people can be seen collecting wood as it is a valuable resource.
We were given some quince that we have turned into quince jelly- this year we altered the recipe by adding mixed spice and it tastes very nice specially with the local cheese.
We marked the New Year as usual by a days walk and this time we headed for the "Dark Valley" leading to the nice village of La Borbolla. The valley is sandwiched between two mountain ranges closed to the coast and in Winter has limited sunlight but this provides a perfect environment for lichen and fungi to grow. We also went to Oviedo for the end of the year classical concert by the Oviedo Philarmonic Orchestra at the Campoamor theatre. Fur coats were out in force accompanied by a heavy smell of moth balls and overpowering perfume. The concert was very enjoyable with a full programme of popular classics.
I will be heading for Barrios in the next few days to help my sister Rita with the second matanza- a very busy time making black pudding, chorizo, salami and curing ham. Ian will remain at La Pasera with Gawber and Wentworth who continue to demonstrate their good hunting skills.
Wishing all of you a healthy and very happy 2009. 
We have made no New Year resolutions but we will endeavour to reduce, reuse and recycle wherever possible.