Monday, 3 August 2015

Rome wasn't built in a day

We have relaxed into things a lot more this week - no mad rushes. After all, what's the hurry? We have upgraded the irrigation system on two of the lower levels, following the example of our very experienced neighbour. So when the water arrived this morning, an event which we set our alarm clock for (!), we were well in control of two thirds of the irrigation. There is just one section left that requires attention and we intend to see to this in the coming week. We require more pipework, and are going to see about getting some 1000 litre tanks on the highest point of the land to deposit the water in. We have already installed one up there, but it would really suit us to put in another couple. I have looked on 'mil anuncios' (it's a bit like gum tree) and we may make an excursion out towards Granada this week to buy some second hand ones. Mark is very at home with the whole watering  thing from his days in the Temperate House at Kew but I'm a bit of a novice and quite slow - I'm not sure if I would have got through the probation period if I had worked in horticulture! But I'm improving. The large taps that are turned to divert the water to wherever you want it to go are very stiff but are getting easier. Is it because they are loosening up or because I'm getting stronger? I suspect it is the latter. 

The irrigator's box of tricks

On the drinking water front, we filled up further up the mountain yesterday having got through 60 litres between us in a week, As we are using very little indeed other than for drinking, we have calculated that we are drinking about 4 litres a day each (!!) - plus a bit of lemonade and beer!

We have spent the middle of the afternoon sheltering indoors from the sun (the intense heat has subsided these last couple of days and now it's a more comfortable 32 ish), and the bulk of the unpacking is done. Just the beehives and chicken cage to go - but we don't need either of these yet. It is amazing how much 'stuff' you can collect over the years and it certainly provides fuel for reflection. I'm not quite sure how I feel about having enough pairs of socks to see me out!

I love market day on Thursday and the general atmosphere in town. It's great to stock up on fairly local and seasonal vegetables and fruit. This week we made a bit of a blunder on the air miles. When we got back home from the market we had a look at our receipt from the stallholder and realised we had paid €3 for a cauliflower, a vegetable which is a firm favourite on the Sparrow family dinner table.  How silly of me to think this would be local at this time of year - it had probably come all the way from Lincolnshire! So as not to waste something that was costing the Earth, there was a very hearty cauliflower cheese dish on the table last night! To compensate for this gaffe, we did, however, manage to get a delicious mango which the stallholder informed me had been grown in nearby Almuñécar. I believe that the Costa Tropical, where Almuñécar is situated, has a very unique climate for growing tropical fruits such as this. There was a big sugar cane industry in the area in the past.

We really want to be as self sufficient in fruit and veg as possible but it's a little late to start some things. However, we have got a bit of a plant crèche going on on the terrace. Mark has already transplanted tomatoes into the ground. Up and coming, there are chillies, red peppers, aubergines. 

The plant crèche

The oranges are all but finished with only a few, over sweet ones remaining so it will be a rest from vitamin C on tap until winter time. 

The almonds are now ripening nicely and slightly ahead of time. We may harvest a few trees in the week to come. We have already harvested one tree that ripened super early. 

The almonds are drying out in the sun

Once dried, the outer husk, which is loose, is removed before the almonds are bagged up

I have started doing a little almond tasting as one or two of the trees bare bitter almonds. These would have been wild trees that seeded on the land. These trees will either be taken out if they are poor specimens or they can be used to graft other trees onto if the root stock is healthy. 

Within the last few days one of our fig trees has started to ripen. Today we collected a good few handfuls. We had some with our salad at lunchtime and the rest have been prepared to be sun dried. This will be a bit of an experiment because we haven't done this before.

What a beautiful shade of purple

No we haven't lost the plot! Mark is covering the blanched figs with muslin
to protect them from insects and dust whilst drying

Under the shelter of a beautiful fig canopy

Our pussycats are becoming more settled. Our youngest one by far, Bobby, is wide eyed and very attentive at the sounds of the night that come from the garden. Just a while ago he watched with curiosity as a gecko slipped past on the other side of the window frame. I do hope he doesn't make a lunge for it as the mosquito net that is keeping him in is only made of fibre and his claws would made short work of it. Only another week and a half before they can go out! A cat flap is on its way in the post, one that recognises their individual microchip codes. There are some lovely wild cats that visit the garden but we don't want our cats inviting them back for a party in the kitchen.

We have organised the fitting of a bola de remolque (it's a tow bar) next Thursday so we can work our car harder and get a few more jobs ticked off. Next week we may also get back to swimming again (after recovering from getting sunburnt on our last trip to the pool). But right now I'm exhausted from water day activities, climbing up and down terraces, dragging hoses after me and talking to the plants, in Spanish of course!

Mi pan casero

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