Letter from the Algharb desert…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hello from the Algharb Desert. Today it rained. Unusual here in June. The thirsty plants put their little faces upwards and drank it in with a sigh of relief. It’s been months without rain and the garden is a dust bowl. But a good heavy shower has fallen and I won’t have to water the garden today, something which has been a nightly chore for a good while, despite all our water saving measures, as we still have the pots, vegetables and trees to water.The heavy rain has only penetrated a couple of centimetres of soil, but the smell in the garden of the wet on the dusty soil is heavenly and I am relieved. I have tied up my camel for the moment and the canteens are replenished. We live to fight another day!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

More seriously, the garden is coming along a little every day. Using the grey water and plenteous sheep manure in the nascent orchard  is having some effect and the fruit trees have survived a cold winter and a drought and seem to be getting their roots down now, and although small are looking quite green and healthy. A quick spray of neem oil in nine parts milk seems be keeping the bugs down and I am experimenting with not putting the little organza bags on the peaches this year, to see if the chickens have done their job gobbling up any newly hatched fruit flies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our hard labour lifting and positioning flat stones in the hot sun all day to make the paths around the garden is complete and the hippy shed is in pieces in the garage waiting to be built by Senor Faztudo. I may get it before I’m 60! I have been thinking hard about how to keep it warm in the winter and the very important question of the interior design. Caribbean or Moroccan retreat? Zen or Heath Robinson? I can’t quite make up my mind. But that’s half the fun. I think the Shed of the Year competition should extend to the Algarve.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My little garden successes are some very pretty double aquilegia this year, which I grew from seed. I never thought they would grow here, but I chose a shady spot for them and they did very well. I have left all the seed pods to dry  on the plant so I can distribute them around the garden. I have also managed to produce some euphorbia rigida seedlings and some euphorbia cypressa. My success is a bit like the parable “and some fell on stony ground etc” as out of a whole portion of perennial seeds, I often end up with between 2 and 10 plants after I have neglected to water them, left them in a a place that is too cold or too hot or let the cats knock them off the wall. But even if I get one plant I consider that to be a success as I can generate cuttings after that. I have managed to keep one lavender Hidcote blue alive that I grew from seed and also produced enough Tansy plants to put around the citrus trees in an endeavor to deter the fruit fly since apparently they don’t like the smell. (Nor do I much!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Our globe artichokes, grown from seed. have been fantastic and we ate as many as we could be bothered to prepare, leaving the rest to produce their stunning seed heads. It’s so decadent to make a salad completely of artichoke hearts and I love doing it. There isn’t much in the vegetable garden at the moment, but I have managed to grow a few tomatoes and squash plants as well as some courgettes in this year’s lasagna bed. I know the vegetable garden is a long term project as until I  can improve the soil, it isn’t going to be very productive. But we manage to have something most of the year, although it’s always far from being a glut. But then who needs a glut really? A glut just sits there looking at you mournfully waiting to be dealt with,  making you feel guilty. And then when you tun it into jam or chutney it makes you fat!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have a fine new cockerel. I was waiting for one to come to me and he came through a delightful route, in the boot of a new gardening friend, who had also bought me a stirrup hoe from France after mine broke from overuse. It was my favourite gardening tool, but I’ve never seen one like it here, so I was overjoyed to get a new one. And a fine rooster he is too, proudly upright and very quickly taking possession of his hens. I’ve called him Phoenix. Long may he rule the roost!

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Letter from the Algharb desert…

  1. you’re so right about gluts. Every year we drown in plums, apricots and figs. And when I grew veg, every time I turned my back, dozens more courgettes would appear. Still, there’s nothing quite like home-grown tomatoes, the more the merrier because making frito for the winter is the best.

    Great to hear that you’re thriving…..that is one fine cockerel you have. Our neighbour has a turkey and three hens. What strange noises the male makes, and so protective of his girls. A bit of an ugly bugger though!

    Like

  2. Hi Lady Luz. So sorry not to reply to this before, it’s lovely to get your message! It’s a bit of a difficult gardening year here, I must say, because of the very cold weather (for us) in the winter and the drought. I have grown squash and courgettes on my lasagna bed this year which are wonderfully luxurious because of all the nitrogen, but few female flowers. Never mind, the chickens are enjoying the leaves! Lots of stuff is getting in the way of me getting in the garden lately, but it’s fine, because we’re trying to make a little money to spend on the garden. I LOVE turkeys, but I think it’s a bit too far for Senor Faztudo…I once suggested a goat and he started packing his suitcase lol! Hope you are well and not sizzling to much in your part of the world.

    Like

  3. What a great photo of Phoenix… he really looks very happy… Am glad our roads crossed…..and hope to see you soon again.. X

    Like

  4. Yes, thanks so much for the gift of him! He’s such a gentleman and seems to have been here for ever, he has made himself so at home! See you soon.

    Like

Please talk to me. I am struggling here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s