Category Archives: Farming

Spring adds colour to your garden

Spring is one of the magical moments in Terceira. The weather is ever sweet and the green colours on the island are at its deepest. In these months all wild flowers pop and the fruit trees open their blossoms.

Finally I found some time to experiment with my new second hand marco lens, so I could make these close-ups. It is an old analogue lens and all settings had to be made manually, oh what a joy.

Under on the left you see a flower from one of our lemon trees. We have a lot now, so hopefully the bees have done their part. On the right you see a peach blossom. All though flowers are also plenty, the old tree will give us nothing more than that.

 

If you want to sleep under our orange trees, check out our tents!

Getting the garden ready

Grasses and weeds, herbs and flowers. Shiny details for the eye and meal, but so far not so many vegetables to be seen. At least the view is stunning, most of the beds are prepared, so we are getting ready for the spring.

Just some shots web-4In the front you see 2 Hugel Kultur beds we made last year. And it is a complete disaster. We buried a pile of wood and covered it earth, soil and compost. However, the rats find it a castle and build a massive bunker underneath the wood, so big wholes appear everywhere. We have already put a lot of effort in this experiment, but so far, it doesn’t win our hearts.

Finally we have finished the raised beds that we put on top of our ‘compost-E’ and filled it up with compost, manure and lots of carbon materials to help decomposing the cow dung.

In the meanwhile little plants are awaiting in the nursery to set root in their new homes.

With the next full moon we fill up this garden as much we can, so we can enjoy a long summer with fresh food.

Spring Vegetable Garden Web-5

The true vagabond

tillandsia air plant

You’re not bound to just stay put,

need no roots and yet feel grounded.

Feed on which the wind brings you.

You are my one true vagabond.

True Vagabond Tillandsia Web-1

We ‘discovered’ the Tillandsia family in Borneo, where we met a great Chinese collector. He created a fairytale world on his porch with thousands of these little beauties. We brought a couple of them and flew them across the world to decorate our Azorean home. Here we found that many relatives of our vagabond decorate balconies and porches.

This odd cousin of the pineapple is one of our favourites. After the bloom, they grow children and grandchildren around them. In this way they shape to become huge bulbs or funky serpents. You can easily adopt one, by breaking it off from its family. We have spread our family by giving them away as souvenirs. I wonder if they have showed their flowers in The Netherlands already. Anybody?

If you ever have the opportunity to get one, just hang her in front of your sunny window and spray every once in a while. All she needs is sun and humidity, so easy to please.

Our first vegetable harvest

fresh vegetables from our farm in the azores
First harvest form our organic vegetable garden

Dear friends, it must be said, there are a few things in life as rewarding as your first harvest from your own food garden. Since last year we have started our preparations to convert our rocky soil to a fruitful bedding. We have applied perma culture techniques like the hugel kultur beds we dug and the classical chicken tractor has done an amazing job fertilizing the soil. The growth of our zucchini plants is stunning and the fruits have the size of my underarm!

So far we have had the occasional radish and we have made nastrum salad with beautiful edible flowers, but today we have made our first proper harvest. Proud to pronounce we have sweet pees (OMG the are really sweet when you eat them directly from the plant (raw even!)), French beans, zucchini, turnib and a root cabbage of which I don’t know the name.

In the meanwhile our tomato plants are standing strong and we should think fast of what to seed in the empty spaces before summer kicks in.

organic Hugel kulur bed in terceira azores
Our hugel kultur with mainly pees and French beens, accompanied by nastrum and calendula.

 

 

The new neighbours on 15a

Welcome new neighbours! For my birthday I happily got our first residents of Abbyville. Mrs. Black, White and Brown forage our lawn under surveillance of Mr. Rooster. So far they have rewarded our love and food with an average of 0.3 eggs per day, so we need to work a bit on that.

chicken tractor
New neighbours

Yes, I would prefer to see our chickens in large number and free range, but let’s start this collaboration with a controlled situation.

  The Chicken tractor

In an egg shell it is an easy to relocate chicken coop you move throughout your garden or farm. They will get rid of your grass, weeds and seeds feed on bugs and kitchen scraps and give you class A poop in return. These egg producing, ploughing, fertilizing garden friends are excellent workers and will do good for your earth.

They made our first step in our organic approach in which we try to let everything work together. I have wanted to make a chicken tractor since I read Hemenway’s Gaia’s garden and there are tons of examples to be found on the web. A good example you will find here.

Mother Earth News published some articles as well to give you some ideas. We especially liked the idea to put the coop over (raised) garden beds to focus the work and, well, the output.

The tractors we found would still cost around a hundred euro, which I definitely wanted to spend on other things. We went shooping in the old shed and found the materials Chickens-1to go for no budget. Iron plant trellises would make a perfect outdoor coop, pegged to the ground and covered with chicken fence, yes I did spend 5 ekkies here, and with my new  power tool (yeah, man-stuff!) I screwed all the planks and posts together I could find.

Happy with the garden residence number 15a, there still were some rookie mistakes: the house is pretty heavy and with two people it is quite a lift with four feathered friends inside. Not as smooth as the two wheeled tractor in the pictures, huh. But on the other hand, we also don’t have the same picture perfect straight lawns as the exampled picture, so because everything can be dismantled, it is much easer to carry it around our irregular land.

A second thing I would have done different is to make the house higher so it can function as a shelter as well.

Chickens-3Up to now we receive a mere 0.3 egg, not enough for our daily sunny-side-up. With adapting the food and regularly add kitchen scraps and dug-up weeds they should get a varied diet to start a flow of eggs in the spring. Keep you posted on that.