Tree-Huggers Delight

King Carob
King Carob Tree (restored), on the monte

One of my favorite winter activities (and i’m sure some of you tree-huggers out there can relate) is: hacking into the jungle that has grown up around a great-but-neglected old tree, and restoring the throne to its proper owner.

Of course i’m speaking figuratively, but in the case of this old carob tree pictured above, which stands atop the rocky outcrop that caps our “monte,” the purple prose is perhaps justified.
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YearEnd Planting Party

Mãos na massa

Maybe because of the weather -winter rain&cold having not yet come, but showers in the forecast for our last working Friday of the year- our gang decided to forgo the usual banquet at a restaurant, opting instead to have a potluck picnic & planting party in what is to be our farm’s new receiving area (south-east entrance off the municipal road).

As it turned out, the weather forecast was bang-on for a change, so we had rain showers on-and-off throughout the day, which made for both good planting conditions and occasional breaks in the action, during which we ate and drank and shared reflections on the year just past and dreams for the year to come. A nice balance of activity, and a fine day for all involved.

In keeping with our water-wise strategy for drylands (i.e. everything above the irrigation canal that bisects Q-VdL), plants are all native & adapted species, selected for drought and salt tolerance (as this site is quite exposed to oceanic influence). Indeed, though we are prepared to hand-water until these plants are fully established, and there has been no rain since planting day, this garden seems to be doing fine with just the dew that saturates our straw-mulched and generously-composted beds each morning. So: sleeping for now, creeping next year… And by the following spring, according to popular wisdom, these gardens should be positively leaping.  (if in doubt,  please come and see for yourself! 🙂

Celebrar o Campo de Regeneração de Ecossistemas

Na semana passada a Quinta do Vale da Lama foi o palco para um Campo de Regeneração de Ecossistemas, que acolheu cerca de 30 participantes motivados e capacitados para uma aprendizagem prática aplicada em torno da implementação de uma estratégia de gestão eficiente para a regeneração do sequeiro, co-projetado pelo proprietário do terreno e pela OrlaDesign para o declive superior norte da quinta.

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A Co-created Landscape Design Moment!

To begin the design process for the North-Slope of the rain-fed part of the farm, an area that wishes to become an innovated Agro-silvo-pastoral system (Pomar Misto de Sequeiro) that proves truly regenerative within the Mediterranean drylands, a co-design moment with the staff members & owners of Quinta do Vale da Lama was facilitated this summer by OrlaDesign for the WaterWise Dryland Regeneration project.

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Visitar a Quinta

A Quinta do Vale da Lama tem diferentes focos de ação associados a diferentes zonas da quinta. Existe a parte educativa dinamizada pelo PND – Projecto Novas Descobertas, com lugar no Campo do Vale, e o Agro-turismo, sediado na Casa Vale da Lama – EcoResort. Outros núcleos dedicados a actividades agrícolas e a funções administrativas e residenciais estão a ser recuperados e desenvolvidos passo a passo.

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WaterWise Garden Tour

During last Saturday’s “Festa do Sol” (Sun Festival), i was assisted in giving a tour of our garden by its designer: landscape architect Marilyn Ribeiro (website, Facebook), who came out of maternity leave just in time for the event.

It was great to have her there because -though i did play a role in its design, especially w/r/t greywater system and rainwater harvesting earthworks– my knowledge of the plants is still pretty skimpy.

Fortunately Marilyn is like a walking field-guide to Mediterranean plants… So she was able to answer questions from visitors, even while toting a baby and instructing me in ongoing maintenance.

As it turns out, maintenance is less of a chore than i had expected -especially now as roots (planted in March) are established, and we are cutting back on spot-irrigation regime, even now that peak summer heat is on.

Come the first rains of autumn, i expect to be putting my hose away for good -and come Harvest Festival time (September 16)- these garden beds should be pretty well filled-out. I look forward to another public showing then!

Poda no Olival

Este ano tivemos o privilégio de ter connosco um grande sabedor de árvores, Peter Zinn, a cuidar da oliveiras da área noroeste da Quinta. O olival que já era bonito pela imponência das antigas árvores, tornou-se ainda mais bonito, agora mais acessível, e potencialmente mais produtivo quando chegar a colheita da azeitona, esperamos nós. E aprendemos tanto com a presença deste senhor e a sua ligação às árvores.
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