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“Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds”

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Tomatoes from my garden

I was reading a blog the other day where someone described 10 thoughts he’d had about life in general, and I thought I’d pinch the idea. Thanks HungryDai An Englishman’s life in Lisbon

I often walk about the garden thinking things…then the thoughts drift away on the wind, maybe to be forgotten, perhaps to be remembered and acted upon.

 

So here are 10 thoughts I can remember from the past week

  1. I thought today how green the garden is, considering the drought situation we are finding ourselves in. The fires further North in  Portugal have been horrendous this year and there’s a drought in the Alentejo and parts of the Algarve, so I’m being very careful with water, since I fear water saving measures may be on the way and I don’t want my plants to develop a dependency.  I wondered why it’s still so green and then realised it’s really because now, in its fourth year, everything has got its roots down. Most of the garden is also mulched too which has helped hugely.

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    Multi-headed sunflowers…why do they do that?

  2. I wondered a few days ago, where I would want my ashes strewn, in the event I died whilst we still lived here (cheerful thought I know!)  At the top of the garden under a seat facing the view? In the compost heap? Under a rose? To act as fertiliser for a sunflower? As a dust bath for the chickens? The latter me laugh, when I thought of my ashes being strewn in glorious abandon whilst the chickens deliriously ridded themslves of lice!

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    The greenhouse in development

  3. Wondering how to arrange the interior of the greenhouse Señor Faztudo is just completing for me. I’ve never had a greenhouse before. I’m sure I need a potting bench and I’m thinking about how it should be designed. Lots of searching for ideas on Pinterest. I’m also pondering on what I will actually grow in the greenhouse if anything. It’s really there to bring on seedlings and create new plants, but maybe I’ll grow cucumbers and lettuces in the winter in it too.
  4. Will the beautiful eagle we’ve seen soaring across  the valley recently come for my chickens? Where would they hide if it did?

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    Just the ticket for soup-except the plums!

  5. I thought this morning how pleasing it was to bring two fat beef tomatoes, a yellow and green courgette and a butternut squash up from the garden to make soup, along with garlic and onion harvested earlier and a pinch of home grown flat leaved parsley to go in at the end. I’ve always loved growing  my own food, it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures for me.
  6. Which grape varieties are best for raisins? Do they grow here? How do you prepare the ground for grapes? Can I grow them organically or will they be overcome by mildew and diseases? I want to plant a row of grapevines behind the house on a flat terrace, not least  because they will provide a green wall in the summer and look great in the Autumn as they turn yellow and orange.

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    Helichysum Italicum in my gardn

  7. I’m  perplexed as to how  prune stuff in very hot conditions. It looks to me like some of the shrubs, the salvias and cistus are crying out to be pruned. But do you wait until the Autumn? Not sure what to do.
  8. The neighbours are beavering away creating a huge concrete area to store their carobs. It’s clear I’ll need some kind of screening, much as I enjoy the comings and goings of their market gardening activities. What can I grow that’s fast, is in keeping with a Mediterranean garden, and doesn’t need too much water? Pondering…all ideas gratefully received. The bed I need to plant it in is on a slope between two apricot trees. It needs not to lose its leaves in the winter and provide screening to quite a height. Please don’t suggest Leylandi, its one of the few plants I hate.
  9. What is growing now back in the UK? Are the courgettes only just beginning  and are there any blackberries yet…we don’t get them much here as it’s too dry. Are the wild flowers going over in my sister-in-law’s meadow in the Welsh hills? What are my old allotment friends up to in London? I’m thinking they will be getting ready for the annual allotment barbecue, with a camp fire and songs and lots of good things to eat, grown cooked and shared. I miss that community of fellow gardeners sometimes and think of them with wistful fondness.

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    Gunsite Allotment scarecrows, South London

  10. My garden is all “No Dig” one way or another. I’ve never really thought about that until now, although its not no-dig  in the Charles Dowding way, as I can’t produce compost in large quantities as there is little water and biomass and the chickens run free over half of it. Digging never occurs to me for one minute nowadays. I haven’t even got a spade or fork, only an “enchada” the Portuguese hacking implement, which is a bit like something the English would call a mattock and I use that less and less, only to remove unwanted plants or weeds.

And a last thought snuck in, as it always does. What plants would I like next?  Something a gardener always thinks about really, we are all greedy for plants!

Writing  this, I’ve realised  realise that my garden is the place where I do most of my thinking, and not just about the garden. As Alice Sebold said:

“I like my garden –it’s a place where I find myself, when I need to lose myself.”

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Gardening in Portugal – Creepy Crawlies!

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When I first started working in my garden I confess I was a little apprehensive.  Everything was so different and new. Instead of the crumbly dark London soil I was used to on my allotment, the clay here is red and sticky and the colour of builder’s tea. Further poking about reveals unfamiliar creepy crawlies, not to mention other creatures you certainly don’t see in a South London back garden.

Before you run off screaming, I am still alive a year later and am now longer afraid of the insects  I encounter. Rather they fascinate me and make me feel honoured that they have visited my garden. They just seem to appear all of a sudden as you are weeding or raking. Here is a cricket hiding in the grass. He is very well camouflaged!

Can you spot the cricket?

Can you spot the cricket?

Those of you with a nervous disposition can look away now because I’m going to start with the most frightening one. Don’t worry, it is rare and only hides in the deepest darkest stones. We encountered the mother of all these creatures at the bottom of an old bread oven we dismantled. It was about 10 inches long.  I don’t like killing anything, so we tried to capture it to take it away…big mistake. It is very aggressive and we had a rather alarming encounter with it rearing up at us as we tried to catch it with the dustpan before we beat a hasty retreat. I am currently ordering a boiler suit with elasticated  legs as I live in horror of it crawling up my trouser leg.

Here is the beast. It has a nasty bite and you will need to get some attention if it bites you, so beware.

http://izzym.hubpages.com/hub/Bug-Identification-Scolopendra

The creature that people seem to be very nervous of are scorpions. I have never seen one in a whole year of gardening in Portugal, but I think it is a good idea to wear gloves at all times and shake out your shoes, especially if you have left them in the garden or shed overnight. I don’t think the varieties in Portugal are deadly if they sting you, but I expect the bite will be painful. Make sure you know where your nearest health centre or pharmacy is so you can get rapid treatment if you are bitten.

Ok, now let’s move onto some harmless (to humans anayway) but rather intriguing creatures.  First the preying mantis. This is a definite goody, since it eats many of the more harmful bugs and insects in your garden, incuding mosquitoes. I once saw one laying its eggs into a case that looked like a piece of Styrofoam on the gate of our house. Another time, we were enjoying dinner in a restaurant nearby and one joined us ata the table!

I said it was harmless, but not to dragonfly nymphs. This is a disturbing film of one being gently eaten alive!

The bible talk of plagues of insects, but I have never actually seen one. That is, until it rained last October. The first rain brings plagues of little black millipedes. They come out of the soil to mate in their hundreds and sometimes we have had to sweep dustpanfuls off the terrace. (In Portugal they sell dustpans with long handles and I have come to learn why…they double up very well as creepy crawly catchers) They are harmless, unless you crush them when they make a horrible stink. We put draught excluders under our mosquito screens as they seem inclined to try and get in the house, where they promptly die.  They only last a few weeks though mercifully and after mating either die or return to the soil. They have been much more of a pest in Australia, where they have accidentally ended up and have even stopped trains running due to the amount of them squashed on the tracks!

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2007/04/05/2039499.htm

Now to an unidentified flying object. I can’t find out what it is called, so please let me know if you can identify it. It lived in our garden for several days and we became rather fond of it. It was really big for a bug and so unusual looking that I fancied it may have come to earth on a meteorite we had seen the night before. He camoflauged himself among the green plants and moved every now and again, so we had to really look to find him.

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Same unidentified bug on a leaf

The other creatures to be careful of in your garden are mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. There is a period in June where they all hatch out at once and drive you crazy! Make sure you have tipped out all standing water from buckets etc, because that’s where mosquitoes lay their eggs and produce lavae. Fleas, which I have always thought live on cats actually live in the ground and jump on the cats, lay their eggs and jump off again. So they can equally jump on you. And ticks, which are generally only found in long grass and mostly where sheep have been can be dangerous and spread lyme disease or tick fever. Our cats get them quite a lot, even after we have treated them with flea and tick repellent and we have to remove them with a tweezers. So wear good boots, and don’t be gardening in your flip-flops.  A good strong antiseptic liquid is very important to have on hand  when gardening I find…just make sure to treat anything immediately with an undiluted dab. When I first started gardening bites festered more than they do now. I think your immune system needs to get used to the different bugs and germs. And don’t forget to keep your tetanus shots up to date!

When I retired, people asked me what I was going to do. I said, “I’m off to Portugal to watch the ants all day. This is what we do a lot of the time. There are many different sorts and they are very entertaining. We feed them bits of biscuit and watch them carry off chunks larger than themselves. Unfortunately, one of our chickens loves them too and will stay by their nest all day, picking them off as they come out.

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Watching the ants

Now I have frightened you all to death, can I point out that I have a big garden and none of these bugs and minor hazards have caused me much discomfort. They have however, caused my vegetables some damage. But that is the subject of another post!

Gardening in Portugal – Weed and Write

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fortune of the Republic, 1878.

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Algarve Wild Flowers collected for identification

I have spent my gardening life fighting for the rights of “weeds.”   I have met people who hate weeds with a complete vengeance and twitch whenever they pass one in my garden and I have met people who have said to me “If I know its name, it’s not a weed”. One thing I have learnt is that if you let weeds make you unhappy for a minute, they will. If you learn live with them and even to  love them, at least a little, you will be more at peace and happier in your garden. Or at least, that’s how I feel. However,  I  must add that I am not the most thorough of gardeners, so this philosophy is partly a defence!

I had the great fortune to spend eight years gardening on an allotment in South London.  It had an active allotment committee and on the whole, not full of rules and regulations as some are, but we had regular debates in the potting shed at monthly meetings about how to define a weed and how tolerant we should be of them on people’s allotments. As you walked around, there were some plots with not a weed in site, all the vegetables growing in serried rows and others where the nettles were growing in profusion amongst the spring cabbages, the rosebay willow herb billowing amongst the fruit trees and  bindweed scrambling over the trellises alongside the runner beans. Interestingly, in terms of production, the vegetable gardens which were slightly weedier, often produced the best vegetables. The birds ate the raspberries from the tidy plots where they could see them better, the sun beat down on the bare ground and shrivelled up the lettuces and the blackfly went for the beans more readily on the neater plots. I fought hard for my rights to have nettles on my plot and comfrey. Without these I would have not been able to make the nettle  tea fertiliser I used all the time, or attract the benefical insects. I even ate the nettles occasionally.  The weed resisters amongst us were fervent in their protests. They must die! Kill the weeds! The gleam in their eyes scared me on occasions. I sometimes felt weeds were a hanging offence!  Mind you, I have to confess to being a bit of a wind up merchant.  Allotment committee meetings sometimes needed spicing up and to be fair, I was a naughty, laid back kind of gardener, whose weed seeds regularly encroached onto my long suffering neighbours’ plots!

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“Weeds”-my garden last Spring.

As a child, I loved to walk along the banks of the river Wye, popping the Himalayan balsam pods and laughing as they exploded everywhere. But it is an invasive monoculture, and damaging to the banks of the river, causing  erosion, and detrimental to other, less invasive species. My sister-in-law  and brother are  busy growing a native wildflower meadow near to the river and  they are very choosy about their weeds!

One of our regular allotment agenda items was “The Japanese  knotweed is coming out of the woods!” These huge giants are almost impossible to kill and we had regular workparties to try to stop them encroaching on our plots. There is a similar situation in Portugal, with plants such as Agave Americana, Mimosa and Pampas grasses romping away at the expense of slower growing indigenous species.

So, a line has to be drawn. Here in Portugal, some beautiful plants have been considered invasive and a danger to the native species and this is where, I guess, we have to stop and think.  There are obviously some weeds which are so invasive you can’t have them all over the place.  On the allotment, couch grass was one of these;  here in my garden in the Algarve, even though it is beautiful,Chrysanthemum Coronium is one,wild spinach is another.

ImageChrysanthemum Coronium in my garden

I don’t use any weed killer in my garden, so what to do? The spinach is fine. The chickens love it, but they don’t eat the chrysanthemums, so I have resolved to let them grow, just not fifteen feet tall as they did last year. A gentle strim every now and then suffices. In the vegetable garden, I am trying to keep weeds at bay with a straw mulch, which seems to be working fairly well. I also use the chicken bedding, which is wood shavings, mixed with chicken poo, being careful to rot it down first. Although the shavings can rob the soil of nitrogen, I reckon the chicken poo puts it back. So we end up evens. And where I really want things to get a head start, I have used permeable weed suppressant material and a thick mulch of gravel. This keeps the weeds out and the water in (called Brita here) A word of warning though, if your soil is very heavy clay as mine is, as the roots can get waterlogged. Put some gravel into the hole first before planting for drainage.

In my quest to understand the flora and fauna of the Algarve, I have made some wonderful discoveries about the “weeds” in my garden.  I have found Alexanders, a beautiful plant, edible in all its parts (Although great care has to be taken in identification, as it is in the umbellifer family and related to the deadly Hemlock) I have left them to flourish in a corner of my vegetable garden.Wild asparagus, a prickly, but beautiful plant with edible shoots is present  and Borage growing everywhere…a great bee attracter. I even have some wild Delphiniums and six feet tall Mallows! I  have left areas for the natural flora and fauna to grow as it will, although I have had to protect it from the chickens (see last post)

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Alexanders (Smyrium Olusatrum)

To the aged and wise Portugese “Donnas” who live in this little village, the “weeds” are their medicine chest and their flavourings …this one’s leaves  as a tea for constipation, that one if you can’t sleep, this one has roots that you can use to bring down a fever, that one for flavouring your olives.

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A mulched area in its infancy, planted with succulents, and other drought resistant plants

It’s a race against time whether I can learn enough Portugese to try and understand their wisdom in these things. And sadly, you have to be very wary nowadays where you pick your medicines. The men are already out with their yellow tanks on their backs…spraying things to hell.

Gardening in Portugal Update

We have been too busy toiling in the garden for me to write an update, but I promised myself that I would do one every couple of months so I can look back at the progress we make going forward. A garden is a slowly evolving thing and sometimes it’s hard to see what you’ve done. That’s partly because an avid gardener looks at their garden microscopically every day and so the changes seem minute.

But we have done quite a lot of work since the weather got cooler and here it is in pictures;OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here are the new stone steps to help us get up the bank. They also act as a drainage channel and  turns into a waterfall when it rains!

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The beginnings of my jungly garden of the  west side of the house. It seems to be important to concentrate on developi zones which need the same amount of watering together. This area may need light irrigation and is close to the house. I bought the Strelizia reginae at the Mediterranean garden fair. I hope it grows really big as I would love cut flowers from it!

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We have recently lined this with permeable weed proof material and then gravelled it, planting grasses and irises through it. This is a technique which I am using to trt and minimize weeds and watering…and I am having varying degrees of success depending on what I plant.

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And here is one we made last autumn with some success. It is very windy and I am looking forward to the stipas and pennisetums blowing in the wind in the late summer and Autumn. The lemon grass is also doing very well, as are the canna lilies and bearded irises, which grow wild in the Algarve.Just as an aside, of you go down this route in your garden, I strong,y recommend using the brown geotechnical fabric and not the black ,since it lets more air and water through for the plants.

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We have made a concrete base at the bottom of the garden where one day I will have a hippie shed, where I can relive my misspent youth as a sixties flower child and entertain my children and nieces and nephews to tea and oranges that come all the way from the garden! Gwynnie, the cat looks on….

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The  beautiful old olive trees were pruned by Senor Faztudo…under my supervision of course. He  is a bit too handy with the saw!

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I planted a yellow hibiscus against the red pigmented wall because I  like the two colours together, but I don’t hold out a great deal of hope for it. It doesn’t like wind much!

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The cabbages and lettuces are doing well. It’s a bit cold for caterpillars, which is good.

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I have fenced off the bottom bed against cats, chickens and caterpillars…and myself unfortunately!

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The lasagna bed is cooking nicely. The chicken poo helps. I have put the pots to start seedlings in and will eventually add to the bed.

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This is the dawn view from the garden.

And so to bed!

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Gardening in Portugal – Sow what?

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Some Pak Choi seeds germinated in the bathroom in paper towel and then planted into recycled pots

It’s been seed sowing time! I know it’s not Spring here yet, but many vegetables will grow better in the Winter than the Summer and I intend to make the most of it. I also want to try and grow perennials from seed, because as a retired person, I can’t afford to buy too many plants. However, I’m  not a very meticulous gardener and have had to have a think about raising plants from seeds and the best methods. One of the things that really bores me about gardening is perfect preparation. I cannot be bothered to hone my soil to a fine tilth, get the teeny tiny seeds and sprinkle them carefully into the soil at properly designated intervals, then wait with bated breath to see if the cats scrape them all up or the rain comes down in huge drops and flattens them all…that’s if they ever come up at all! I also find it very hard to distinguish a bona fide seedling from a weed seedling in the early stages.

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A turnip seed germinated and then put into the soil…at least I know it’s a turnip!

I had known  germination can be quite difficult with perennial seed, which often need a period of cold before they will pop their little heads up, so I turned my attention to doing a bit of research on germination methods. And thanks to the wonders of Google, that’s when I found Dr Deno! Norman Deno was a Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Penn State university and devoted his career to the study of seed germination and practice. He experimented on a huge range of seeds to find out their ideal germinating conditions. He published his findings for the gardening public and they are now available online as pdf documents. I am not going to explain it all in detail, because it’s done wonderfully in this blog.

http://hayefield.com/2013/02/15/the-science-of-seed-germination/

So for the last few weeks, I have been putting seeds between paper towels and using the underfloor heating in the bathroom to germinate them, much to the consternation of Senor Faz-Tudo  who doesn’t really like to share his bathroom with the smell of germinating onions. And Hey Presto It works!  It’s a little bit like Christmas everyday when you unwrap the little packet and find another batch has germinated. The vegetables seeds germinate very easily  in a day or two, ready to put into the mini-greenhouses I have created from plastic bottles, but I have even managed to germinate some old clematis seed and some alstromeira and three pots of aquilegia! This has got me quite excited so I have been looking on the Internet for where to buy perennial seeds. Chiltern Seeds and Jelitto look very good so far and have great websites with germination instructions. My back garden is already beginning to look like Eddie Grundy’s farm with plastic bottles everywhere, but I comfort myself with the beauty that will come forth from them in the Spring.

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Eddy Grundy’s farm!

I am only just getting to understand how my Portuguese neighbours do things. We are in a small village which hasn’t changed much, probably since the Romans, that is until a recent influx of “estrangeiros” from all parts of the world. Gardening and growing things is a common language though and I love to watch my neighbours working their land. At this time of year, farmers plant their favas (broad beans, generally dried and used in stews) and ervilhas (peas,again mostly  dried) The skies are scanned anxiously for rain and after the first downpour in Autumn, the fields are furrowed and the beans planted, along with a handful of “bono” or artificial fertiliser. I will talk more about the lack of organic principles hereabouts later, but here is a picture of the beans coming up in the field next to my house.

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My neighbour’s Fava beans

Unfortunately, lots of things can bring about the demise of these crops. We do have frost here in the Algarve, especially in the valleys and a very dry winter can also be disastrous. There is much talk and shaking of heads if the weather is inclement as to many of the subsistence farmers here, the failure of a food crop is quite a big deal.

I am sure farmers always used to grow their own crops from seed and still do, but several small scale growers are now selling seedlings or plugs in our local markets. These are expedient if you have forgotten to sow your own and quite cheap but very conservative in their variety. Which brings me onto “The Real Seed Company”. For several years I have bought seed from this lovely little UK company, who have made it their business to propagate and support heirloom vegetables.  (There is another company by the same name in Australia who sell cannabis seeds, but I don’t mean that one!) I grew many of them on my allotment in Dulwich, among them a rare Kale from Sutherland discovered in someone’s garden and grown by her grandmother and some wonderful giant peas grown from a few found in a glass jar in a cellar. This company spends years getting these seeds found across the land to the point where they can be sold in small amounts to the general gardening public. And now a European Directive is going to put a stop to that imminently. I do worry about the tendency for large companies to lay claim to their rights to seed; copyrighting and making them infertile and the like. If you are interested in what the RealSeed Company has to say about it or to buy some seeds at very reasonable prices look here:

http://www.realseeds.co.uk/seedlaw2.html

(Update: Unfortunately they have stopped delivering to Portugal)

And speaking of seeds, buying a growing medium to plant them in is very difficult here in the Algarve. We all know peat based compost is bad for the environment, but even if you wanted it, it’s is very hard to find here. I have found a source, but am quite uncomfortable with using it and am going to have to learn how to make my own. All advice gratefully received.

In the meantime, I will go on unwrapping my little presents every day, picking up my lovely little germinating seedpods and planting them whilst dreaming about lovely veggies and a glorious flowery Spring and Summer. That is unless the chickens don’t get them first. But that’s another story!

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Nando-chief seedling stalker

Gardening in Portugal – Lasagna Beds

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A  year after this blog was written-result!

How do you get rid of all your Autumn garden rubbish; the coffee grinds from all the local cafes; the cardboard from the boxes you moved house in and several months supply of chicken bedding and poo and end up with good soil?Cook up a lasagna bed of course!

I ‘ve never really believed in digging. Although I actually enjoy it and find it satisfying to look at a newly turned bed, to me it has never seemed to be a very logical or natural activity. In my London days, I had an allotment in South London and it was very interesting observing  the different gardening styles og the allotment members, who came from all corners of the world. Although digging was generally considered to be a virtuous activity and a tidy allotment something to be admired, the people who grew the best vegetables didn’t dig at all.   One of my allotment neighbours, an elderly Jamaican lady, piled up her soil with anything organic she could find, much of it chopped up with a machete by her Italian husband and never put a fork to the soil.  She had made  a wonderful dark soil, and talked about her plants as though they were babies needing sustenance. She would take her seedlings and gently part the rich, moisture holding organic mulch which she had built up over the years and gently arrange their roots. You could see that they would be away in no time and they were. She planted things very close together, so the weeds didn’t have any room and all her vegetables were huge. And yet she was always getting into terrible trouble for her untidy plot!  I was impressed and tried to emulate her methods with varying degrees of success. I am now determined to give it another go.

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Our house came already terraced at the back and this is where I am making my vegetable garden.The soil isn’t bad. It is a mix of both the white and the red clay that we get here on the Barrocal, an area of the Algarve unique for its limestone and clay soils.  It’s reasonable on nutrients and good when it rains, but bakes hard in the sun. But having spent a year growing vegetables on it, I am not really satisfied. I want to be organic and the nutrients aren’t enough. My neighbours plant straight into the soil  at the appropriate times of year, often using artificial fertilisers. Favas, the broad beans that are often dried and used throughout the year grow well if it rains, as do peas. I am not sure if a lasagna bed will work here. Will it rot down? Will it hold enough water?  I haven’t seen anyone local even making compost, although I have heard it discussed as something that used to be done. The farmers do plough their weeds back into the soil, but I often see green waste next to the bins.  We will see. It’s an experiment.

So, I began with the cardboard boxes I had saved from the packing. Then I loaded on all the fifteen foot high wild daisy stalks I mentioned earlier, then a load of chicken poo mixed with wood shavings, then lots of olive leaves, followed by a load of horse manure kindly donated free by a friend.  Then I was tired and sat and watched the chickens trying to undo all my layers!

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More of the chickens later!

A local cafe, kindly offered to donate the coffee grinds it collects in the week and the newspapers left by their clients.  So that went on as well. It looked a bit untidy for a while!

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I have nearly finished it now. Just a bit more chicken poo and shavings I think. I can’t decide whether to put black plastic on top or not. It is rotting well underneath after a week of heavy rainfall recently, but the top stalks are still very much in evidence. We will have to see what the winter brings, but I hope to plant my courgettes and tomatoes in it next year!  Hopefully it will help me to make an edible lasagna!  I will let you know how I get on.

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Gardening in Portugal – One of 50 sheds of grey

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I’ve  always wanted my very own shed. Not one stuffed with children’s bicycles, old fairy lights and half used paint cans.  I hanker after a shed where I can put all my gardening stuff away and find it without falling over the aforesaid objects.  So (I’m sorry I can’t find the little thingie that goes over the n)  and I  found ourselves driving up and down the Algarve looking for sheds. To our dismay, the humble shed seems to be a luxury item here. Even without a floor, the cheapest 6 by 4 four shed we could find was about 240 euros and that was without a floor or delivery!  After a lot of deliberation and not without regret, since we like to buy local we found that it was cheaper to buy a shed from England over the internet and get it delivered than to buy it here. It arrived and went up like lego kit.

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We painted it grey, to match the windows on the house and it wasn’t until I did this that my sister pointed out  the irony…hence the blog title!   I got cracking organising it.  Old tin cans saved over from the cat’s food were duly employed to take my plant labels, bits of wire and clips.  I screwed up a bank of old clothes hooks to hold hand tools. I never really realised that most hand tools have a hole in the end, so you can tie a string through it to hang them. I am a pretty untidy gardener, but am hoping that having the shed will encourage me to put my tools away at night so I can find everything the next morning.

The shed has a window with the most beautiful view over the Algarve countryside. Although it’s  built on a slope, there is a little platform on the West side, sheltering me from the morning sun and it is here I sit, potting seeds ready for the Spring and making cuttings from my neighbour’s donations.  Although, this shed is too small for entertaining guests I am planning a hippy shed at the bottom of the garden. Senor Faz-Tudo has never really been much of a hippy fan, despite me being one when I met him and I have a desire to return to the mirrored indian hangings and joss sticks of my youth by creating a sort of  New Age den at the bottom of the garden where I can entertain my children and nieces and nephews  in true old hippie stylie.  Watch this space….