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dinsdag 29 maart 2016

The raised bed solution.

How we use our compost. Part 3.

The Monte on which we live consists primarily of soft slate. The sharps (erosion) are called soil, which it is actually. This slate soil contains all the minerals that a vegetable plant may wish. However, it contains very little organic matter. Only grass, herbs and a single tree grow on these grounds. For growing vegetable plants we need more active organic matter in order to 'unlock' the existing minerals. For this we add compost. However, It takes one or two crops for these two 'complete foreigners' (slate soil and compost) to relate to each other... to become accustomed to each other and mingle.

Soil, compost and some pebbles in a new raised bed. After a few crops, the soil and the compost are accustomed to each other and benefit from each other's proximity.

Meanwhile we achieve good results with green and red cabbages in an older raised bed:



On our Monte we find but a small top layer of slate soil. Often no more than 20 cm. Below this you find the relatively accessible, soft and yellow slate layers.
Initially we had high hopes, to grow our vegetables in the thin top layer. We 'wasted' more compost to this than we wanted... The soil contains too many loose stones that you always encounter (which makes growing carrots difficult and putting bean sticks almost impossible) and the compost disappears to places where you do not need it. To have a verifiable and deeper topsoil we came up with the construction of raised vegetable beds. For this purpose the southern slope next to our house proved to be the best place for this.

Our new garden on the south slope.

When we came from the Netherlands, we thought in terms of timber and timber constructions. In essence Holland is a port where all goods of the world come in, where everything is marketed and consequently available. But here in Portugal, wood is expensive and does almost always warp. Perhaps because of the Portuguese humidity that is usually relatively low. This is the reason why we decided to build with stone, just like in the Portuguese way. This building with the big red and hollow blocks creates its own charm and possibilities.

The slate layers below the top layer can be chopped. Usually one does not do this when there is no reason for it. But if you want to build a raised bed you will, when you want to create a more or less horizontal space to build a masonry wall:


Leafy greens in pots.

Leafy greens we grow preferably in pots in a mixture of compost 75% and 25% (slate) soil. We sow and cut small amounts of vegetables in the widest possible variety of species:

In the 'half closed' greenhouse.

In the 'closed' greenhouse.

The light green Acelga is a true stayer. It is growing at the top and eventually creates a stem:

Acelga, a Chicory like leaf, that tastes a little salty and is not bitter. Eat it like spinach.

The local loose-leaf Couve (cabbage) Lisa and the Broccoli can also be grown in a pot very well. From both, one can eat all the leaves:

Couve Lisa.

The Broccoli seeds you can normally buy will not grow a big flower in your Broccoli. But here in Portugal people told me to eat the leaves of the plant also. You cut off the stem and you cut out the thick vein of the leaf. The rest you can cook tender very well. I always stew our vegetable in olive oil. It looks a bit like stir-frying. It only takes a few more minutes because you have to cook the vegetables tender, with the lid on the pan.
With the Couve Lisa I do the same. I also cut the stem off and the vein out. It is an amazingly soft and tasty cabbage, appetizing in fried onions.

In the garden.

The red cabbages in the barrels are not happy. They like the raised bed better, where they have more space. So this is another learning for the next time.
In contrast, the green cabbages are doing very well in a barrel. So, each plant has its own peculiar needs...:



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Stella.


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