Lo Que Pasa Cuando NO Dejamos Limpos Nuestros Campos

[English coming soon. Photos are of a brooding partridge incubating her 11 eggs in one of our irrigation hillocks. Which just goes to show the importance of providing refuge for wildlife… No one could accuse us of being neat, unlike what I´ve seen throughout Europe. We like our nature messy!]

El otro día estaba resfriada y me quedé en la cama cuando S. fue al campo. De vuelta me contó que había encontrado un nido con una buena docena de huevos. Está en medio de un cabellón bastante descuidado, como nos gusta dejarlos, porque queremos que se amplien con materia orgánica para cultivos futuros. Estos cabellones representan el refugio perfecto para todo tipo de serpientes, rodeodores y, ¿porqué no?, aves.


Hoy al llegar vimos la gallina saliendo de allí y pude ver sus 11 huevitos de color gris. Me hizo pensar en el faisán, muy común en el campo de donde vengo, pero lo hemos buscado y nos parece ser una perdiz roja. ¡Ahora a ver cuando nos salen los pollitos!

Slow Spring

[English below.] Abajo se aprecia un par de fotos del segundo taller de bioconstrucción que ha ido aún mejor que la primera, ¡claro está que la experiencia ayuda!

Y más abajo se ve lo que la tierra actualmente nos da, ya que en nuestro pequeño microclima, hemos pasado un invierno no propicio para el cultivo de hortalizas, con heladas fuertes durante casi una semana al inicio de diciembre y un par de noches otra vez bajo cero durante Fallas. Añoramos todavía la pérdida de nuestros primero intentos tropicales, los 5 aguacateros, el limero. Y nos sorprende la muerte de 2 de los 3 algarrobos que plantamos y uno que nos había salido él solo. Pero puede ser una lección valiosoa, para indicarnos que en realidad lo que tenemos en vez de un clima subtropical, característico de la costa valenciana, es más bien uno continental, por la montaña prójima y el frescor y sombra que guarda.

It’s been a harsh winter, nearly a week in early December and two more nights again in March of below-freezing temperatures. The latter was after Fallas which is supposedly safely past the last freeze (tradition says to plant cucurbits on March 19th, the day of Sant Josep, the saint in whose honor the church appropriated what was probably an earlier pagan festival). At any rate, the freezes did away with all the new tropical plants we had put in (5 avocados, a lime and a pitanga), plus, surprisingly, 3 out of 4 carobs which are supposed to be hardy. And of course, as I lamented previously, the citrus.

The rest of our citrus harvest has been taken to the juice factory, about a metric ton and a half. We hired transport for about 1000 kilos and I moved the rest by bicycle cart: exactly nine trips of 50 or so kilos each, a total of 475 kilos. In total, there must have been about 2 metric tons, with the usual 10% or more ending up on the ground, to which is added what we consumed ourselves, gave away and sold (nearly 200 kilos prior to the freeze). So we know that instead of 85 or so productive trees, we have about 55 that average enough to be worth the effort, this year over 30 kilos each, but still nothing to write home about.

This has convinced us we are definitively NOT in the subtropical hardiness zone (USDA 10a) and that we need to try our luck planting for the colder continental zone (9b). We’re keeping our eye on the cherry to see if it will produce, which would be unusual for our area. Are on our way to the nursery to look at adding more warm-climate versions of apples, pears and nectarines.

On top of the cold winter, spring has been slow to come, with most of April unseasonably cool as a follow-up to the cold winter, which makes working outdoors still a pleasure. The photos above are from our second stone wall workshop.

This time in addition to working the rounded stones typical to the region, we began to work with the split stones that I scored when the barn up the hill was torn down. They are much bigger and, with more flat surfaces, I think will make the work go faster.

Finally, an update on what we are eating — it was a good year for wild asparagus, and we have learned that cutting back the plants to ground level is critical to producing tasty new shoots, so we will try to find the time for that next year in amongst harvesting citrus. Our spinach struggled all winter with the cold, but the peas did well, the radishes are liking the April weather and the celery has come back for a 2nd year.WhatWereEatingApr2018