We have realised that December through to February is going to be the busiest time of year for us. It's when the trees need pruning (in our case mainly olive, almond, citrus, fig), the prunings need burning and the jobs that it would be too tiring to do when it gets warmer need to be completed. Our burning permit, which is issued by the Town Hall, allows bonfires only until the end of March, only on days when it is not breezy and the bonfire must be finished and covered by 2pm. So if there's a pile of prunings to burn it's a case of getting up, sniffing the air and seizing the moment!
As the pruning is out the way and the trees have started to show their new growth, it's time to fertilize them. I love this job because it reminds me of the promise of things to come! We are currently in the process of tidying our land and it won't be long before we are getting the fertilizer on the ground.
Over the past 6 weeks or so our almond trees have blossomed. They were beautiful and now the nuts are set on the branches.
The lining of the alberca is progressing but is not finished yet. It has been lined with very thick plastic which is joined by heating. However, when we filled it the lining sunk into the crevices of the land and is a bit low in one place. We therefore need to have a bit more material heat-joined in the low area. The gentlemen are coming to do that tomorrow. So we have had to drain it again. To try and preserve the wildlife, we have salvaged frog spawn and found a turtle, who has joined the goldfish in our plunge pool! I hope he doesn't eat them all. Maybe the fish are thinking 'Thanks for that!' Mark has also been periodically netting toads as they do not like to spend all their time in the water and the sides of the alberca are steep and slippery. We are going to put a wooden plank into the water in due course to help wildlife that want to climb out.
As we sacrificed having irrigation water at hand this winter so that we can sort out the alberca, we haven't put any vegetables in and have been holding back on planting new trees. This has been a bit frustrating and we have immersed ourselves in various projects to take our minds off it.
Below the alberca, Mark has uncovered a beautiful dry stone wall built in 3 tiers. Someone many years ago has channelled their time and skills into this and we are proud to have such a lovely integral feature in that part of the land.
Whilst Mark has been uncovering walls, I had a project on the go on the upstairs balcony. The motivation behind doing it now was to get it completed before the grapevines start to bud and grow along the balcony railings. I put up a wall frieze of Andaluz tiles on the two walls, did some rendering to make the wall textures more uniform, then painted the walls with a nice fresh coat of white paint. Then I gave the railings a coat of black Hammerite and finally painted the floor as the tiles were a bit tired and needed a facelift. We enjoy sitting up on the balcony to take in the view at sunset in Spring and Autumn and decorating this area will bring us a lot of pleasure. We plan to finish off the balcony by putting a pergola over it so, with shade on offer we may get even more use from this area.
Yet another project we have completed is to put up a pergola on a very open terrace area outside the house. We bought the pergola from a DIY shop in Granada and, as two of the pieces of wood measured 4 metres, loading up the car was an interesting activity! We have painted the wooden frame and laid willow over the top. Yesterday it was windy and thankfully the willow covering did not move at all!
We have been treated on more than one occasion to a couple of days of rain and the land has seen an explosion of beautiful wildflowers. There also seem to be less insects eating into the flowers on the fruit trees this year: probably held back by the colder winter.
This is our paraguayo peach - they are those flattened-looking ones! Fingers crossed, we will have a few peaches this summer.
We have started to harvest some of the larger broad bean pods and hopefully this will enable the smaller pods higher up the plant to start swelling.
And, despite not having our alberca water, the rain has been kind to us and kept alive the vegetables that were already in the ground. This little collection was the basis of our evening meal a few nights ago.All but the kidney beans and the rice came from the garden to make this risotto.
Last week, Mark took another 50 Kgs of olives to the mill for which we received 10 litres of oil. So in total this year we harvested 208 Kgs of olives and got 35 litres of oil in return.
With spring just around the corner, our little kitten has been spayed.
And we have tried our hand at a new skill: yesterday, our neighbours who live above us gave us some goats' milk as they are looking after a herd for somebody and had an excess. So we made some cheese. It turned out really well, even if I say so myself! We added oregano leaves, as it needed a strong flavouring to match the strong taste of the milk. This evening I made another batch and flavoured it with rosemary leaves from the garden.
So all in all, we are feeling up to date with the various tasks required this season and, I am pleased to say, way ahead of where we were up to this time last year.