woensdag 28 juni 2017

An horta in the Alentejo - Part 3

May and June 2017:

Dry! Hot!

Threatening ... but not doing!
The months of April, May and June have been exceptionally dry (until today). The usual exuberant bloom of flowers in April lasted only a single week. The grass disappears soon and the sheep are looking for food again. Down by the river Hendrik has begun to mow and collect the hay for his composting farm.

The first hay has been mowed already.
The first hay packages are already on the monte.
The potatoes, down in the valley (An horta in Alentejo - Part 1) are withering. It is about time for a shadow cloth.

In May I wrote about the ants in our vegetable garden. And yes, they still form a plague. Especially the combination of ants and lice produces a lot of disappointments. When they are not around, everything in the garden grows exuberant. In my life, I have never ever cultivated such heavy and compact lettuce, as in the past winter and last months. It's a miracle.

Learned from the previous year.

In fact, we now are already assuming that we will not have much luck in the garden during the summer months. If the weather stays like this, with temperatures of 40-45ºC in the burning sun, much shade and water will be needed to keep the boat going. The previous summer taught us that we should not sow or plant small plants in June . Everything we harvest now we freeze as much as possible. We guess we will have to get used to the fact that summer is a time to wait...

I realized that I could cover the cabbage plants, that we planted in the first week of June, with a flowerpot. That little shadow is enough to keep them going. We also scattered chips of reeds or wood to cover the top layer of the soil, leaving it moist. That helps.

The garden benefits from the shadow of a tree in the evening.

Flower pots on the cabbage plants.
We also hope that the planted onions will be all right, and will not languish like the previous year. The onions we planted in February are now ready and dry. We never know what species we sow or plant... Nobody can tell us. So, we do not know if we can keep them for a long time.

Here in the garden, the potatoes suffer from the heat also. The first to put his leaves above the ground burned them immediately.

In the shadow it grows better...

One week later...
The melons in the barrels do well, in the full sun, to become nice and sweet. They get water twice a day. Then the leaves remain bright green and do not hang limp.

This year I planted the tomato plants early, and cut them well. 'Thieving' we call this in Holland. Most of them do there utmost... and we are watching the process with admiration...

These are of the variety that is called Chucha. They are usually elongated, round or pointed, firm and fleshy. These plants (that we sowed our selves) give themselves away completely in more then 4 bunches of tomatoes. At 6 clusters, the top is cut, because we assume that the plants will not survive the summer. 
In the greenhouse, this is different...

These tomatoes are Chucha also, but from an other kind, and purchased from the market als plants.
...In the greenhouse everything is different, always. For the moment, this is a good place... For the moment we have had not any problems with lice and ants... for the moment...


At the very moment that I write this all... yet it starts to rain. Today it is 24ºC. A party for the plants! The world is full of surprises. And definitely there will be more.

In the early morning at 6 o'clock...

and at 9.00 am.

July 2017 ... The weather is still good. No temperatures above 38ºC. And the lettuce is growing bigger still:

1715 grams... almost 2 kilos :) And good !
The mulch keeps the soil cool and moist.

Still more than 40ºC ... and many forest fires in the middle of Portugal. At the north wind we see the fog of smoke in the sky.

Flower pots over the young lettuce plants.
At about 2 o'clock in the afternoon

To be continued....



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