Powerdown Blogging

Apologies to all, the blog is probably going to take a back seat now for the darker months. We’re really struggling with electricity at the moment, and given the choice of cooking dinner with the light on or updating the blog, I’m afraid dinner will win every time. I’ve been developing a bit of a Val Kilmer jawline recently from holding a torch clamped between my teeth when we’ve overdone it and run out of power, and I’ve learnt that lesson well.

So a brief update today, and I’ll be back with photos and more news when our fairy godmother buys us more solar panels (@Santa – are you reading this? :-)).

We’ve brought in the olive harvest successfully, in record time. Photos to follow at some point. Jeroen is still working on the straw bale project and has attended a workshop about working with traditional lime which he’s very excited about. I’ve been taking some time to work with our volunteers in the veg garden which has been a little neglected over the last few months. It’s been feeding us faithfully, so it’s very sad to see the remaining plants now all black and slimy and the last tomatoes and peppers rotting. The saddest day for me, and certainly the end of the season, was the morning after our first frost when I harvested all the little pumpkins and squashes which the previous day had held such opportunity and would now never fully ripen.

We’ve been feasting on those wonderful winter treats of roasted chestnuts and foraged parasol mushrooms. As ever with the mushrooms it’s been feast or famine so I tried a new method of preserving them and tried lightly pickling then storing in olive oil. The downside of all preserving efforts is that you should let them mature for at least a few weeks before tasting. I’ll report back in due course.

Despite the cold, it’s encouraging to see life in the garden still. I dug up and replanted a bucket full of garlics I found growing in one of the paths yesterday. It doesn’t matter how much I sift through, I always miss a pile! We also have self seeded leaf beet and lettuce popping up all over, and in the forest area there is a patch of potatoes which have just shown their leaves. They’re destined to failure of course, but I feel they really should have known better than to spring up in December!

Which reminds me, the potatoes we planted in the freshly cleared bramble patch I wrote about a few months ago turned out to be the biggest we’ve ever grown on this site. Way to go! It’s beautiful soil down there, so we need to plant up again quickly before the weeds get another foothold.

Incredibly, our strawberries are still fruiting. A handful of strawberries in the morning with breakfast doesn’t do much to dispel the chill, but it makes you feel more cheerful!

We’ve been busy building more raised beds and will be topping up this year’s once the last of the tomatoes are out. Finally we’re using all the bracken we cut in the summer months. We could actually have done with about three times as much! It’s incredible the quantity of organic material we can get through. Nothing organic leaves this farm, and we have various inputs, yet we’re still begging for more! It’s fabulous seeing the molehills spreading over the land. Some gardeners might complain about them, but we recognise them as a sign of a growing earthworm population and rejoice.

The biggest job we’re embarking on at the moment is building a terrace on the strawberry patch. It’s on a slope which means that our beds gradually creep downhill over time. So we’re making use of some old tyres, recycled from a local garage, to build a terrace wall. There’s a lot of digging involved, but I reckon it’ll be fantastic. Must remember to take some photos.

OK, my battery warning light is on so I’ll be off. Please keep following and keep in touch. Your feedback means a lot to us, even when we’re not as plugged in as we’d like to be.





2 responses to “Powerdown Blogging”

  1. Claudio Avatar

    Well I just want to say I have found this blog (today) rather inspiring, you have one more fan, I have been thinking of doing “the transition” (urban->countryside) but I have to get this right first time, so I’m browsing the web for insight about permaculture, which I have read quite a bit now, but I still lack the practical experience, maybe I’ll volunteer to help and retain some of that knowledge..

    My regards and I wish you the best of luck.

  2. Andrea Avatar

    Thankyou for your kind words Claudio, and I hope you’ll stay with us and share your thoughts as we continue our adventures. Feedback is a wonderful motivator for getting me writing!

    Volunteering is superb ‘pre-transition’ preparation as it gives you the opportunity to experience a whole range of situations and discover first hand what works for you. May I suggest http://www.wwoof.pt, if you have not discovered them already?

    We would love to show you around Casalinho one day. Keep in touch 🙂

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