Friday, January 14, 2011

update 06 14.01.2011

OK OK! …as Mooch has a habit of saying on his show de radio, which if you fancy, you can tune into whilst reading the blog… Just click here to hear or download the latest show. It´s a world music show presented in English and Spanish, yes we know it´s got nothing to do with the huerto but that doesn´t matter. Mooch is currently trying to reduce the size of his organic pumpkin headphones so he can use them for DJing.

Enough of that. However, on the subject of technology, you remember that the trusty old Canon camera gave up. Well, growing organic vegetables and living fairly frugally in a field means that one can´t just nip out and buy a new camera, so we had to wait until one was donated to the cause, the Fisher Price/ Sellotape model was rather annoying… and thanks to those sensible hard working people in England (you know who you are!) we were able to procure a redundant Nikon compact in exchange for a very small amount of home-made stuff, but not until almost September, so we can´t show you many pics of life here during July and August.

So, as we finished the last update Ma and Pa Hancock had arrived to ´muck in´.

Dave spent a large amount of time watering and weeding, whilst Rita gathered and de-stoned cherries (and ate a few). Our lovely vecinos Portugueses (the neighbours just over the border in Portugal) have quite a big cherry orchard and the fruit is sold locally, but their main client had taken a long trip to ´the big cherry in the sky´ earlier in the year so Mooch stepped in as cherry salesman, and distributed a few hundred kilos throughout nearby Spanish villages. We turned most of our own cherries into jam and licor de cereza.

Now, we had never really thought of making liqueurs, but the glut of cherries gave us a chance to experiment, and in no less than 3 weeks we were sampling the most fantastic sweet red ´after dinner juice´ which could just as easily be consumed for breakfast(!). We followed a local recipe and since then we have adapted it to make other fruit liqueurs including plum, blackberry, pomegranate (did you know that the word pomegranate in Spanish is granada?) … and the ´piece de resistance´, fig liqueur, which is incredibly good and really should be sampled. At the time of writing this we are attempting to simulate Grand Marnier liqueur with our own oranges… woohoo!

The problem with leaving the blog update for such a long time is that there is simply too much to say. Not to worry though, Mooch likes talking.

Rita and Dave returned to blighty, rather cherried-out… then Ma and Pa Mooch came to visit. Knowing how much he likes to work we sent Papa into the garden with some sticks and string (we don´t call him Papa, that is for the benefit of Mooch´s niece and nephew Holly and Joe, the grandchildren… to us he is Dad, or John!), anyway he got very busy creating a super high tensile structure to support the tomatoes, which were starting to grow like triffids. Meanwhile, grandma Joanie (which she will be delighted to see in print, not!) took every opportunity to advise, and of course to help out. One of the photos shows Joan and John (just to be sure of who we´re talking about!) holding some freshly plucked onions… the very same onions planted by grandson Joe in February, which is a nice thing to happen, planted by the young´n, watered by the wally and harvested by the elders! The allotment looked fantastic when they left and the tomatoes were very organised, although only a month later the weight of the fruit was proving too much even for the carefully engineered superstructure implemented by JVA! In 2011 we shall learn a bit more about the best ways to do things… less fruit, more plants!

Around this time Mooch was carefully administering the odd helping of neem oil spray to the vineyard and orchard in the belief that it was doing good, based on what we have read about organic gardening. Neem comes from the Indian tree of the same name and is an organic pest and fungus controller, it seems to work for us… but we are still learning and we don´t really have a benchmark. If you have any, please send us any hints or tips on organic gardening and farming through the comments part of the blog, thanks!

You can see from some of the other photos that we were enjoying all sorts of fresh produce from the garden during June, including sweet peas, mange tout, rocket, potatoes, onions and lots more. We had hardly any apricots, but the abundance of cherries, medlar fruits, figs, tayberries and early blackberries made our morning smoothies rather tasty. Living from mainly fresh food harvested from the garden really is the good life. Hard work, but good life. To think that three years ago this was all but a dream, it is still sometimes hard to believe…

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