Thursday, April 27, 2017

Spring, Sprang, Sprung

Lots in flower.  April, in general, was very warm and dry.

A good year for iris, which are some of my favorites.

Don Juan is the first rose to bloom.

Oddly this year, first came the daffs, then some tulips, then the crocus, and now more tulips.

Seeds update.  Great germination from the sweet peas, also the calima bush beans were almost 100%.  Some of the squash are up and getting true leaves.  But the tomatoes have barely made an appearance, the peppers not looking spry, and nothing on the tomatillos or the indigo.  Have since sown more indigo, cucumbers, zucchini/courgettes, herbs and flowers.

In the garden, my neighbor gave me a sack of sprouted potatoes so they went in.  I checked the early reds and found only a very few with eyes showing, so I replanted those and composted the rest.  So much for early.

Onions planted last weekend.  Mostly the local ¨chata¨ which are a little squat, but great keepers,  and some regular Spanish onions too.

Peas are up, lettuce thinned twice.  You can see the nasturtiums that overwintered on the wall. I´ve tried transplanting volunteer seedlings, but they all seem to die.

Breo ¨helped¨ thin the carrots, so they´re uneven but coming along.  No sign of anything resembling a line of parsnips.  Seriously considering planting peppers here and trying the parsnips again early fall.

Ripe strawberries.  Two of them!  That´s one more than I got last year.  Birds must be busy doing something else this year.

And the currants are showing fruit!  Is that early?

Found ants had set up housekeeping in the bagged soil.  Made some worm tea for the seedlings. 

Hoping to get the panels for tomatoes up this weekend. Scapes on the garlic have to be cut and made into something delish.

In ¨Sprung¨ news, Breo has been limping on and off since January so we finally took him to the animal hospital in Lugo for x-rays and a diagnosis.  We´re told he has a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his knee (ACL).  This is apparently quite common in large, active dogs.  He´s taking anti-inflamatories.  Surgery is expensive, but left alone the joint will get arthritic and since he´s only 4, that hardly seems fair.  So, he´s scheduled for surgery in May and we will have to think of ways of keeping him absolutely quiet, no jumping on furniture, no racing to bark at tractors or passersby.  Any suggestions would be welcome.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Chipirones en su Tinta / Baby squid in ink

 Link - we ate ours before I could get a picture

Something to change up the usual fish night offering.  Ink is sold in little frozen packets here, and is not really necessary since I don´t think there´s a distinct flavor change after you add it.  But it makes for a dramatic presentation.

Minced garlic to taste
1 leek chopped
1 medium tomato chopped
1 medium green pepper chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper
1 lb baby squids, cleaned and de-beaked.  Stuff the tentacles and fins into the cavity.

Heat a little olive oil in the pan, add the garlic for a moment then the vegetables, sauteeing until soft.  Add the white wine and allow to reduce 5 minutes.  Salt and pepper the squids lightly and add, lower the heat and simmer 20-25 minutes, covered.  Add the ink and stir to incorporate.  Serve with white rice.

Notes:  Tasty and simple.  I´d say that the stuffing needs a little something more, i.e. breadrcumbs and parsely or lemon or chives or something.  It would also probably be worth removing the squids at the end and puree the veggies and sauce for a more sophisticated presentation.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Seeds started

Garden update for 2017.

Beds from last year have been turned and weeded.  Carrots, peas, lettuce and spinach are up.  No sign of early potatoes yet.  Garlic looks good but no scapes yet.  Need weeding.

Blueberries (which are actually whortleberries, I think) and strawberries are flowering.  Rhubarb starts and sage and parsely OK.  Direct sowed some sweet peas for color and cutting, plus polinators.

No sign of the parsnips yet.  Started on the end of the potato bed thinking I´d put the tomatoes there.
I´ve a bit of a dilemma regarding the potatoes.  Can´t find seed potatoes except in 25k sacks, which seems rather a lot.  Could buy some that don´t look sprayed from the grocery store, but they tend to have mysterious black spots when peeled which gives me pause.  Am seriously considering not planting potatoes and using the already dug bed for something else.

Added to the seed potato shortage, we´re having mid 80s and no rain for most of April.  The direct opposite of last year.  I´ve started watering regularly. Perhaps I should consider buying potatoes and using the bed for more tomatoes, peppers, beans and squash.

Speaking of which, they are also MIA.  But germination conditions couldn´t be better, sunny and warm.  I´ve been schlepping them out to the patio every morning and bringing them in every evening.  Some of the seed is pretty old now, and I don´t have freezer space to keep them well, so fingers crossed.  If I have no luck with germination, I can still buy starts at the farmers market or the ag cooperative, but they won´t be either special or heritage/open pollinated.

Monday, March 27, 2017

What to do

When you can´t get anything done outside?

Start getting the bottles and pans together for a brewing session!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Happy St. Patrick´s Day

I did get some early red potatoes in by St. Patrick´s Day.  But the forecast is for rain and frost next week, so I´m not too worried about the main crop yet.

Sowed parsnips, carrots, spinach, red lettuce and peas.  Planted some baby rhubarb that miraculously survived the winter in their little pots.  And transplanted some thriving parsley that was in the way of the new raised rose beds. The good news is the veg beds are really easy to turn over after all that digging last year.

Someone please send me an email next January telling me I don´t need more bare root roses.  Not that it will do any good, I suppose.  The beds are double dug, a layer of horse manure and leaves, topped with the original soil and amended with bagged manure and worm castings.  Using the many, many rocks for drainage channels, to keep the plants from having wet feet.

Ghislaine de Feligonde is in a big pot on the northeast side of the house where she gets sun from about 9 in the morning until about 2 in the afternoon, in March.  She should get to about 10 feet.

The beds from last year are coming to life.  Including a mushroom that hitched a ride on the leaves I picked up last year.

Hyacinths are still blooming.

And the azaleas are starting up.  Hope the chilly weather doesn´t do them in.

And now I´m going to have a Guiness or three.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Barn

We had the builder come out and use the bulldozer to move the stones from inside the barn to the pile out in the lot.  It would have taken me weeks to move them with a wheelbarrow, and they were infested with nettles.

The building is basically two, unconnected spaces built on the slope.  One about twice the size of the other.  The good news is that the stone looks very good and the walls quite straight.  There is a very ramshackle extension off the corner, with a window and two large stones that remind me of Stonehenge.  Who knows what it was for - pigs?  Chickens?  That won´t be included in the covered space, perhaps it would make a good potting area.

There is a large opening that has been bricked in.  We want to open that again.  We still have a bunch of windows we bought for the house that we can use.  The rest of the openings were filled in by slats to allow ventilation.  On the larger space, we may do the same for the time being.  Other options might be insulated panels clad in boards.  I don´t think we´ll have enough stone to fill in them all.

The builder has determined that the existing chestnut beams have rotten ends where they´re supported by the walls.  Of course, what else would he say.  On the other hand, no point spending the money for a new roof if the support is questionable, and our budget is, as always, minimal.

We saved a bunch of old beams and beam-ends that I intend for use on raised beds, arbors, etc., that will have to be moved somewhere out of the way.

We have to take measurements and make decisions about uses for the spaces.  I´m wondering about things like skylights, water lines, drains, insulation in general.  I actually think it´s an ideal candidate for a rocket mass heater, but doubt we´re capable of making that happen ourselves.  Plans are to put on a roof and cement slab in Phase I, probably maintaining the two different levels with separate entrances.

So let me ask, what are the most useful aspects of your barns or garages?