Fruits of Our Labors / Fruto del Nuestro Labor

[Abajo el castellano]
This is the first year we’ve had any of our new fruit trees produce, and several haven’t yet flowered. We weren’t even expecting any production, which can typically take years in a new site. But an apricot planted in early 2017 and a nectarine planted little over a year ago in the spring actually produced 11 and 20 edible fruits, respectively. Somehow it takes me back to my childhood when I taste fruit picked straight off the tree, instead of green in preparation for hundreds of miles of refrigerated transport. I have a clear memory of a huge box of Georgia peaches my mother ordered that was the most delicious fruit of my entire childhood, though I have no memory of how we came by that fruit, as we lived a good 1000 miles away.IMG_5212

In the meantime, Juan Antón Mora, of the Bosque de Alimentos (Food Forest) de Alzira, has given us two tiny seedlings: a peach and sapote, both of which sprouted spontaneously on his land. Conventional wisdom on sapotes is, quoting the CRFG, that ¨seedlings generally produce inferior fruit, but there is always a chance of producing a worthwhile new cultivar.¨ As for the Prunus genus which includes nearly all stone fruits including almonds (in which case what one eats is the pit), all trees for commercial production are grafts. But we’ll plant these in the shade of mandarins that are still producing, for the time being, then see what happens.

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Este año nos dío una agradable sorpresa: 3 de los nuevos frutales — el almendro y el albaricoquero plantados en invierno del 2017 y un nectarino plantado hace poco más de un año — dieron fruto. ¡Qué delicia es comer fruta directamente del árbol! Me lleva de vuelta a la fruta de mi infancia, cuando todavía no se cogía fruta verde para transportarla miles de kilómetros y venderla todavía dura y sin sabor. En cambio, nuestra fruta está entre firme y tierna, jugosa, dulce y (si me permito decir) sabrosísima. Me da tanta alegría como el primer tomate que produjimos hace 3 veranos.

La foto es del nectarinero que, como casi todos los frutales, está plantado a la sombra parcial de un mandarino que ya no produce bien. Vamos abriendo espacio, cortando poco a poco las ramas de los mandarinos que luego quitaremos del todo. Evitaremos la quema de la madera, por habernos inscrito en el Programa Piloto de Trituració de Restos Agrícolas en La Casella. Esta madera triturada ya nos servirá bien para alcochonar los frutales y aportar nutrientes, mientras crezcan los arboles.

La Sexta Gran Extinción / Sixth Great Extinction

[English below. El castellano está debajo del todo.]
Ara tinc pensat escriure sobre els insectes, que actualment ixen molts reportatges sobre la catastròfica extinció que estan patint mundialment. No al nostre camp, es pot dir, que estan encantats amb tanta ¨mala herba¨ en flor!!! Segurament pensa la gent que el camp està molt brut, però els insectes em murmuren, zzzzzmmmmm, ens encanta jugar ací….

Intentem evitar esbrossar fins l’últim moment abans de regar, quan s’ha de tindre una part de cada taula netejada per al pas d´aigua. Però enguany hem tingut ja molt bona pluja (vam mesurar 110 mm el 31 de març, i durant Setmana Santa, han caigut 320 mm). No ha fet falta regar fins mediats de maig! Ací mostre fotos de multiples insects, a més dels ocells que han cercat refugi al nostre camp, Upupa epops. No hem trobat el nuc encara…

The insect extinction underway worldwide (Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction is interesting reading) is difficult to imagine at our farm, particularly in May, after big storms at the end of March and during Easter in April left a veritable explosion of ¨weeds¨ and the motor on our Makita electric weedwacker froze up after only 2.5 years of use (I was quite peeved at the timing). We were subsequently quite late in getting back on top of the weeds, which cannot be left standing in our blanket irrigation scheme, but they provide a good deal of refugees for many critters, including insects, fowl and rodents. Our worst enemies are the ants that like to set up shop among the roots of the cucurbits (we are treating them with boric acid bait), as well as a couple of ravenous locusts that have decimated our peppers. Oddly, although we have a couple of rabbits living on the farm, they haven´t caused any damage this year. This year’s nesting birds seem to be the Upupa epops (Eurasian hoopoe), which have a rather nasty reputation. The male is aggressive with a wicked beak, and the young are scat slingers (they actually squirt feces at predators). The male is constantly on guard, watching us typically the entire morning, so we imagine the nest is nearby, though we haven’t made any real efforts to find it. Here´s a grainy photo of two adults about 150 meters away on the electric line.
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Mira la foto de las abubillas que tenemos viviendo en nuestro campo. Todavía no hemos encontrado el nudo, y mejor no lo busquemos, porque el macho tiene mala fama de defenderlo con su pico muy cruel. Mientras tanto, la cantidad de lombrices e insectos que tenemos segurament les resulta muy atractiva. En nuestro campo, no se pensaría que estemos pasando lo que lo científicos ya han nombrado la ¨Sexta Extinción¨.