Saturday, March 27, 2010

Down the vegetable garden: peas in a pod

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With the arrival of the longer and warmer days, it is some time since we started preparing the soil in the vegetable garden by incorporating our own compost and manure that a farmer from the village delivers from his farm. Adding organic matter to our heavy clay soil helps to improve its structure resulting in less work and plants that grow healthier.
This year we are starting our growing season earlier by sowing vegetables such as peas and mange tout in drainage pipes cut in half and planting them in the prepared soil once they are big enough. This process entails chitting the seeds in moistened tissue for a few days until their roots have started sprouting. Taking care not to damage their vulnerable root we than plant the peas in the drainage pipe. Within four weeks from starting this process the young plants are ready to be planted in their permanent position in the vegetable plot. Growing them in this way as opposed to sowing them directly onto the ground is time consuming but guarantees the crop as you can create and control more favourable conditions then if you plant them in the soil were birds and rodents can get to them. If you make use of a south facing wall, you can have earlier peas. There has been times in the past when we have needed to sow peas three times. Talking with friends in the village who are keen gardeners and with whom we share an interest in gardening, this year they needed to do several sowing of peas and still have few plants. It is nice to share our experiences and tips with them. We look forward to our first peas, if everything goes well, by the end of April or very early May. We have also used this method of growing with the beetroots and they look very happy and advanced compared with previous years. Worth the extra work. We look forward to the first crops.

Thursday, March 18, 2010



Avocados grow really well in Asturias but there are not many trees around. Those that grow locally are mainly ornamental and rarely do people collect the fruit. There is a mature specimen in the Village - approx 10 meters high. Huge fruit. We have a new avocado tree growing from a stone. About 1 meter high. These are not our fruit - maybe another 10 years for that.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wentworth and Gawber

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Those of you who follow our blog will know that it is over two years since we brought home our two cats, Wentworth and Gawber, in an attempt to reduce the numbers of a rodent locally knowns as a "rato" in our garden. They both are very good hunters and spend most of the time outdoors other than when the weather is bad. Although they live in the workshop, we enjoy their company while working or sitting in the garden; they regularly join us in the house during the evenings. As you know, cats are creatures who enjoy their comforts and our two are no different. They love to come indoors when it is cold or wet outside and we have a fire blazing away. As you can see from the photos, they both love to catnap and dream of ratos whilst listening to classical or chillout music. Although Wentworth likes a touch of Black-eyed Peas now and again. Purrfect.

We have been trying out new foods with them in the hope we can reduce the commercially bought cat food. Most of the cat food available commercially is either ecologically unfriendly i.e. unsustainable fishing industry or it is nutritionally poor. Sadly, up to now the options we have tried and substituted for their regular meals have been sniffed at and in the main left. Anyone out there with suggestions please get in touch. Someone suggested roadkill but there are limits...

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Jerusalem Artichokes


Normally we would have lifted our crop of Jerusalem Artichokes earlier in the year but as the winter has been so mild we decided to leave them in the ground until now. We lost a few to the rodents but we are really pleased with the crop overall. Cleaned, roasted with olive oil...nutty and tasty. Some people react in a very windy way to these little tubers but if you can tolerate them, they are delicious. Soup is also good and last year Luis incorporated some into Tortilla. Not for the feint hearted.

One for the botanists amongst our readers: Does anyone know what plant this is? We came across it on a recent walk near home.