Saturday, July 25, 2009

A few surprises

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I would like to tell you what has been happening while Ian is visiting friends and family.
To start, here in the north we have escaped the very hot temperatures that some other regions in the country have experienced, up to 43 C. Here the thermometers reached a much more comfortable 28 C with the occasional and cooling rainy day.
My sister Rita and Alfredo spent a few days at La Pasera taking some time out from their busy lives at work and in Barrios. They enjoyed the walk on the Toriello cliffs. The Photo shows Rita and Alfredo in the area locally known as "St Michael´s Bridge", an impressive part of our costal walk.
The vegetable plot continues to surprise us with how well everything is doing. The tomatoes start going red and the first cucumber that I picked yesterday was very juicy and tender. There is a glut of French beans and marrows at present and I think that I need to take the butter nut squash in hand as it has gone rampant, its flowers are very impressive. Some vegetables are producing a glut but it is nice to share some of the produce amongst our neighbours.
The wild life in the garden continues to increase in numbers and variety, some of the visitors are more welcomed that others. We recently had some wild boar in the bottom of the garden but one early morning this week I discovered that the boars had visited us again and although they have not entered the vegetable plot, they churned up a lot of turf in search of orchid and bluebell bulbs. Let us hope is the last we see of them.
On the warm Summers evenings, I have been watching the glow worms at the bottom of the garden, it is as if someone had dropped an LED. Unfortunatelly, they are difficult to photograph. I am pleased with their sighting as we have seen many glow worm beetles through the year.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Drying and Preserving

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Herbs drying in the store room

Lemon Verbena (Herbe Luisa)

Summer at La Pasera is a busy time. Suddenly there is a glut of everything. Mange Tout, Lettuce, Onions, Pots, herbs and so on. Daily collection of fresh produce usually means at least a few hours cooking, freezing or preserving. We have been busy collecting and air-drying various herbs ready for later in the year when fresh are not always readily available. Oregano (loads of it) is grown in abundance and we collect enough for Luis' sister to add to the chorizo she makes at the end of the year. Sage, thyme, rosemary and bay are also collected but in much smaller amounts as they survive most of the year. Lemon Verbena and mint (three types) are collected and dried to make herbal infusions to drink instead of tea. Rosemary also makes a refreshing cuppa as well as it's many uses in the kitchen. We are soon to experiment making various creams and tonics with herbs and hedgerow plants.
2 Kilos of pickled walnuts have been processed and put away to mature for a couple of months - really easy and can be done in any amounts. If you want the recipe - get in touch. Happy to share. Similarly, we have made about 2-3 kilos of Onion marmalade - perfect with goat's cheese and salad or bean burgers.
Making pickling syrup for the walnuts

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The flower garden


Gardening at La Pasera continues to be rewarding and a challenge, we are still getting used to the mild climatic conditions and the generally heavy soil. To grow plants that like these conditions we have tried to create a manageable garden rather than fight nature to grow plants that would struggle and take up more resources in terms of water, time and effort.
Amongst the plants, seedlings and seeds that we collected from our garden in Greenfoot Lane, some have adapted very well to the conditions here at La Pasera like the Acers and the Canary Islands lavender. Others like Love-in-a-mist need a strong hand as they self seed very freely and can become a weed - a beautiful weed. A few others we brought with us were lost to weather conditions and slugs or the snails.
The hardy geraniums and foxgloves have given us such a spectacular show this year. We have just cut the wild flower meadows that have been stunning this year with a variety of wild flowers including orchids that have been much appreciated by a variety of wild life.