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Posts Tagged ‘drought’

De Vine & Nut Tree 

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As those of you who follow me will know I have built us a “fly free zone”(FFZ for short) where we can sit without being mullered by wasps or black biting flies. It also provides a certain amount of camouflage for bird watching, especially now I have loped the olive tree.

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Two years ago I planted a very small  cutting of a grape-vine which we have watched grow slowly, and I do mean slowly, until last year.  Since then it has been a competition between the Walnut tree and the Vine to see who can grow the tallest and longest.  The Walnut tree was winning last year as it shot up putting out two new branches so not wanting it to become a giant I pinched out the tips – I had already cut out the central growing bit – of the tallest branches and waited for the others to catch up. As for the vine well, although it spread around the FFZ, it did not bear any fruit and behaved itself until now that is!  You can see from the ‘before and after’ photos that they both did very well. I pinched out the tips of the other two branches on the Walnut tree no problem there however, on further inspection I found the vine had taken a liking to the tree and was wending its way up into it.  So I got the secateurs cut that branch away then after checking  found there were several bunches of grapes on the main stem hidden by loads of leaves. Then my wife asked if I was going to sort out the bit which was trying its hardest to grow across the FFZ door. But the thing that finally drove me into action were the hornets.  Where the vine had latched onto the netting it’s weight has torn a small hole which allowed the hornets to get in so with staple gun in one hand and secateurs in the other I repaired the hole and began the job of drastic pruning.  Now only the fruit bearing branches are left the grapes are filling out and we can see the garden more clearly.  It may not be the correct way of doing things but up here it works.

Weather Gardening

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As you may or not know it has been very very hot, too hot to work outdoors and only just bearable indoors. So when Thursday broke cool and grey a cuppa appeared by my bed accompanied by “I’m in the garden whilst the weathers like this” and she was sorting out the tyre garden before I had drunk it.   Now this tyre was left here by the delivery guy many moons ago and put to use as a bulb garden at the top of the drive.  Two years ago she planted some of the lilies in there along with the other bulbs but they took over and stifled the Irises and Tulips.,So out came all the bulbs carefully sorted  then began the work of filling in under the rim of the tyre with stones.  (Please note the lesser spotted Michael plant is not for this planter it’s too big.)

This done the earth was spread around again and a coffee appeared should have known, out came the plant books and we sat pouring over them and discussing what would go well where.  “Right then, fancy lunch I’m buying.” that meant one thing garden shopping!  Well I did want a few thing so we got ready then headed for Reus and the big stores and lunch in the Chinese.

Weather Weather Come Our Way

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When we left there were dark clouds everywhere but NO RAIN……  As we neared the pass it began to rain but as we were driving through clouds I suppose it should have.  Up and over the mountains we went down towards the coast with lighter sky’s but still no sun or rain.  The return journey along the coast was no different and I was feeling a little let down all these dark clouds but no rain and we really needed it.  Friday came in cool and grey, but at least we could get out and do thing. One important job was getting the petrol for the generator if it was going to be overcast for a few days we would need to run it for a while to top up the batteries, so under darkening sky’s we went shopping.

 

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Returning home we filled up the generator,  I looked at the sky and grrrrr’d at it then went to continue writing.  But hey guess what we got our rain at last in the shape of a promised thunder-storm.  The first we knew about it approach was the wind getting up and blowing a hooly, bit like the approach of a squall at seq.  It got darker and I heard a distant rumbling as well as seeing the odd flash streak across the sky.  I then noticed my wife sitting in her chair concentrating on her laptop “did you hear that?” I asked “shut up I am ignoring it” was the reply and she did.  Even when it was over head and the rain came very brave.  Normally I would find her hidden away where she cannot see the flashes, a while later she even stood and watch the light show nature put on over the town the sky was lit up in a most spectacular way.  Eventually I asked if she was watching the tv as I was going to turn off the generator as she wasn’t I trotted outside to the shed turned it off then went to the battery house flicked the switch and got soaked, but know what? it was really refreshing.

This morning I woke to find the clouds still there but the sun could be seen peering under the cloud further down the valley and the black biting flies were out in force of well the respite be it ever so small was most welcome.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

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Club Nautique

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This is my friend Pep like me a sailor at heart.  He is on the committee of Club Nautique and does the races.  Now a while ago the local council decided that they would construct a cantilever walkway down river road. This has meant the road has been impassable for several weeks now with, as far as I can tell,  only the paving actually done.  As you have to traverse this small road to get to Club Nautique it obviously has an effect on them and their training hours.   We visited the club one evening to see how things were going and although there were a few people there, it was nothing like it used to be, we could pick our table with no problems.

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It was good to see Pep and his family again plus hear about how the club was doing in the various competitions, he has invited us to go with them to see for ourselves, and as soon as I have a free Sunday (no Petanca) I shall do just that.

The Garden

 

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We had a nice surprise the other morning one of the roses that had not flowered before had done so and two blooms at that.  These are roses that a friend of my wife had dug up and was going to throw away, but before doing so she asked if we would like them. So duly planted last year we lost two but although the other survived no flowers.  Then came this drought and taking in to consideration our water situation I did not expect them to survive but not only have they but bloomed as well isn’t nature wonderful.

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As you can see from this photo it’s not only the roses that have ‘gone for it’ our grapevine has taken off like a rocket and is attempting to become a triffid.  There are bunches of grapes on it but it has, despite my endeavours to curtail it, clambered around the fly free zone and into the walnut tree.  Not content with all this it has stretched out to the door and is now attempting to grow across the FF door and on to goodness knows where.  I often wonder just what we grow up here plants or things from outer space….

The Weather

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I used to think that talking about the weather was an English thing, not any more.  Because we have had so little rain this year and it has been hotter than usual from around the end of April, everyone is talking about the heat.  There is no common ground here though, it’s either very dry and very humid or thunder, lightening, loads of rain (we should be so lucky) with the accompanying floods. The sky still does its ‘look we’re storm clouds’ over us and still bugs off somewhere else, I’m not greedy even a little tinkle would be appreciated.

We did have some rain a few days ago but not enough to mention really, but I have, plus its so hot that you really don’t want to go outside, even the fly free zone is too much.  Any breeze we have is the equivalent to a steam room and the humidity, well that hangs over everything in a cloud of mist you can’t see down the valley.   Believe me I do not need to take the car to the wash, early morning with a clean cloth and its washed then sun-dried. I suppose the only thing

Survival Of The Fittist

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You may or may not remember Buzz the humming bee who got stuck in the false apple, well a little while after that happened the wind gave a great puff and the supports – old wooden beams – gave up the ghost and fell down.  The result was that I had to dig the plant up cut it right back and find somewhere else to plant it.  The car port was the answer, so it went in at the back with its feet in the shade tied the stem to one of the poles made it a water dropper and left it to get on with things.  Last year it made a feeble attempt to get going but this year its on the rampage again.  Up and off over the roof of the car port which is what we wanted, it has actually flowered not as prolific as it originally did but the fact that it has done so is a bonus.  The perfume in the evening wafts into the bedroom and is very much like Jasmine.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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This week sees the annual Wine Fira in Gandesa, so we are off to visit and possibly try some wines.  I say possibly as it is not yet decided who will drink and who will drive, but I expect it will be as normal.  Decision made the one who picked driving will do the tasting and the one who picked tasting won’t drink so will drive. That, as they say, is the way we roll…

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When I last visited the Celler at Gandesa they had just renovated it, setting the three large presses in pride of place. The traditional concrete vats were lovingly restored, cleaned and the outsides painted white. All this was done by traditional methods using craftsmen and the result is stunning. This being one of the Gaudie inspired ‘Cathedrals of Wine ‘ the vaulted ceiling has been lovingly cleaned, restored and where necessary repointed.  We wandered over on Friday but because it was a national holiday the fira was not open till 6pm, so we decided to spend Saturday evening there. As we were leaving we saw a diagram hanging on the wall which led us to believe the fira was in the Celler itself. As usual we should have put our glasses on….

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So today being Saturday we are off to the Fira.  The day dawned sunny but cool so as we decided to go in the late afternoon, we wrapped up a little.  We headed west arriving in Gandesa just as the Mossos (police) were waiting for the early revelers to leave. Parking was a little bit difficult but we managed to find a spot in the road behind the Co-operativa and walked into the main street.  On the other side opposite the Co-operativa was the pavilion tent and inside set out along each side were the exhibiting Cellers.

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It was a surprise to find that compared with say Falset or Mora la’Nova there were not many stands in the tent.  However, we wandered through and found three cellers that need a second look.  Vins del Tros, V Altavins and Aiguardent de Prat Comte, the last of which makes some excellent liqueurs. Do you see what is next to this stand? an original still…. oh I just love it.  Batea was exhibiting some of their excellent wines which meant their stand was very busy. But this gave us an opportunity to take a look at these three Cellers, we will take Vins Del Tros first. My wife is looking forward to this visit as they make an excellent Grenache Blanc Wine, with its light-golden or straw-coloured juice Grenache Blanc is increasingly produced as a blend wine, its use as a softener when blending is quite common. It will be an interesting visit. Next we will take a peek at V Altavins:  This Celler is in Batea and produces a range called Pretty Wines now they sound interesting.  The last Celler is not your usual winery it produces some rather lovely liqueurs. Aiguardent de Prat Comte is something of a mystery so it will be an adventure I do so love wine mysteries….

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With these in mind we wandered out into the street to find cheese sellers and the doughnut sellers, then on into town. At the corner of the street is a shop selling bags and things, today they were also displaying the local wines. Then just round the corner looking at a Halloween window where these two young charmers in traditional costume keeping a proud mum and dad busy.

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Then into the square where we found they were roasting chestnuts and sweet potatoes whilst a giant mother, baby and two lads on their bikes were entertaining everyone.

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Then we wandered off to have a beer at a local bar. Now the look on my face says who’s that? – I don’t know any pretty young girls. We have not seen this pretty young lady for nearly a year and she has grown up in that time. It took a few moments and the question to place her, the daughter of one of my petanca partners.

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We finished our beer and wandered back through the tent and made our way home. Not before stopping to buy some wine I might add. As always there is more to these wine fairs than just wine, three Cellers to visit and new wines to talk about, I do love this time of year.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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For months now it has not rained, this has been a particularly bad year.  We provided a water bar for the birds so they had somewhere to go to drink and bathe.  The cisterna was getting low so we had a delivery of water for the house then bought two 1000,ltr cubes for the garden but even with all this it was a struggle.

We were not allowed to have a BBQ because of the fire risk, which unfortunately in our region was great. Three fires in total with others to the south and north which caused several deaths, not to mention the heat.

But we kept our eyes on the sky, got excited when the weather men predicted rain then disappointment set in when none appeared.  Whilst all this was going on, nothing grew.  The ground became rock hard, I needed a pick to break the soil, even the cacti were suffering all drooped over and saggy.  We did try to water as often as we could but the heat basically meant we were fighting a loosing battle.

We did have a small bit one day  wow what an exciting time but after about half an hour and only a few spots in the dust to show its passing that was it.

We looked at the UK  Drowning in rain, no let up anywhere, so much WHERE WAS OURS!!!!  Then this weekend we watched Country File and the weather map showed rain for Thursday.  By this time we had not only become philosophic about the rain but sarcastic as well.  ‘As if’ and ‘ oh yeh? which year?’ were remarks.  My wife had taken the cushions off the veranda settee just in case but they had been in and out so often Wednesday she left them out.

Wednesday dawned bright with a heavy dew prompting my wife to get on with the cacti garden.  By 10am it was getting warm and the wasps and black biting flies were out so she came in.  Nothing in the sky to give cause just a few white clouds wandering past towards the coast.  So as was our want we left home that afternoon, me to play petanca and my wife to do some research.  So when later after a conversation on-line with a friend, I met my wife for a coffee at Bar Turu, it came over cloudy we got a little bit curious.  This was not supposed to be  here!

A friend joined us for a drink and as most Brits do the conversation turned to the weather and how we ‘Campo’ dwellers were coping with the water situation.  Gardening was discussed along with the wildlife and birds, so of course water, or the lack of it, came up. Our friend looking at the sky said ‘I hope it’s not going to rain till tomorrow I’ve still got to put my guttering back up.’  then a few minutes later we felt two spots and he dashed off home.  We also left for home my wife saying ‘it may be dark but it always rains somewhere else it’s not fair.’  But then once we were on river road she noticed the lightning, ‘oh my god did you see that?’  she said with a slight jump as a large flash lit the sky followed by a rather loud roll of thunder.

Turning onto the forest track it started raining.  Large spots landed on the window screen whilst streaks and flashes of lightning lit the sky.  Rain at last the drought was broken!

When we arrived home it had only just started to rain but it began coming down hard and heavy, we managed to get the cushions in before there was a large flash and the storm announced its arrival with a window shaking clap of thunder.  It rained oh how it rained, all through the night we had rain as small storms rumbled their way past.

This morning we woke to a clear sky bit grey but we could see the moon, and the large puddle we always get when it rains for real.  Next minuet there was a slight breeze as a front came over followed by a small storm cloud which washed the trees, watered – as if we now needed it – the forest and garden and wandered off.  My wife had made a cup of tea so sitting in bed drinking, we watched as the sun began to transfer the olive tree.  Covered in rain drops water dripping from its leaves it twinkled and glittered as if covered with jewels.  As the sun rose higher and the clouds dispersed, water dripped from the tree making it seem as if a rainbow was sitting there the light on the bedroom wall shone with the colours.  Although this only lasted a few minutes it was fascinating, nature is wonderful.

So we have our cubes full, buckets full, cisterna full, lets hope it will fill up the underground rivers enough to get us through next summer.  We no longer look to the UK in envy  WE HAVE RAIN AT LAST!!!! and my wife who is normally scared of storms never complained once….

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It is that time of year again when I have to go for my medical, blood pressure is a real bind.  It normally falls around olive picking time, but this year we have had so little rain that the trees have not produced much of a crop and what olives there are are so small I decided not to bother.  My wife said lets go early so we can be back for the local show at the end of October.  Sounded a good idea, so flights booked, car parking sorted, hire car booked and Dr’s appointment sorted we were ready.  It was an early start around 6.30am Barcelona is around 2hrs away, but I do not like to rush, so with change for the toll’s we set off.  On arrival at the airport I settled down for a spot of work, some coffee and lost myself in writing.

Once in England I drove to my mother-in-laws where we were to stay for a few days before visiting my sister in London.  Next morning I had my blood test so now I was free to enjoy the next few days.  On the Tuesday I visited Wickham Vineyard about which I wrote an article http://bit.ly/rFj3Z9 for my wine book.  Over the next few days I pottered around the house, did a couple of odd jobs then travelled to London to see the family.  We always enjoy our visits here, seeing the nieces and catching up on news and events.

Whilst there ‘Crafty Squirrel’ performed but as you will see he was not happy.  My sister and BJ usually chase him and he treats it as a good game, but because we were there he was not the centre of attention and I think his stance says it all. Any way by way of an update I wrote a poem about him.  There were a pair of jays, the male had a really good mohawk hair do  but the female was calmer and more pigeon like, still very colourful, but I could not get a clear picture of the male only his backside!!

The flowers in the garden are just coming to an end but they are beautiful, telling their own story in stunning colours and delicate blooms. It is very strange how visiting English gardens and seeing some of the flowers growing there seems endearing.  I suppose it’s because we have the wild versions of some in our ‘Garden’.

Whilst in London we visited the largest shopping mall in Europe just down the road in Stratford.  There are stunning views of the Olympic village and stadiums from John Lewis, and the shops are, according to my wife, ‘wonderful!’ I am so glad I did not drive over as I am sure the car would not have made it back….

Then it was back to the Doctors for my appointment which, I am glad to say, was really better than I expected, although there was a small funny here.  I am officially an OAP so I get the flu jab. I also asked about having a tetanus jab, which the Dr. thought a good idea.  He made the appointment with the nurse, who said ‘you want a tetanus jab’ ‘yes I said’ then she realised she had given me another flu jab said it was ok then gave me my tetanus.  So my arm was rather sore for a couple of days, but here is the strange part, I get the jab and my wife gets the cold?  ummmm.

Whilst we were away I heard from friends on Facebook that it had finally rained after 6 months of drought.  Great I thought the cisterna should be full, hey ho I really should have know better, but that is to come.

At last came the day to go home.  I must admit it had been raining for two days in the UK and at night as well, still,  it had rained at home, hadn’t it???

The flight took off late afternoon with the pilot saying it might be a bit bumpy.  Looking out of the window I could see we were between two layers of clouds, which stretched away into the west where there was a golden glow and the clouds made strange shapes.  The lower level of clouds looked like another world, with soft downy ridges and valley’s almost like a dream where you feel you could walk, roll, or sink into soft cotton wool comfort…..then we hit the edge of a jet stream…. the plane shook, my wife saw the wing bounce……ohhhhh.

The pilot was very good he explained about the jet streams which helped understand the situation.  Mind you, if you have ever flown into Beruit this was nothing, there the whole plane shakes, ugh nasty.

When we landed at Barcelona it was 17c and raining!  full on, lightening included.  I drove through three heavy rain storms arriving home to find that although it had rained the cisterna was not even a quarter full, we should have known, hey ho  such is life.   But it is so good to be home I don’t really care. However, there was compensation of sorts, it has rained since yesterday and the cisterna is quarter full with the garden cube holding 200ltrs.  Not a lot you might think but we have waited 6 months.

WATER!!!  It rained last night quite a lot and it is raining with hail as I write, wonderful,  wonderful, and for once my wife is not hiding away from the thunder and lightening.  The Gods are kind….

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It really rained last night in fact it was quite a storm.  Thunder crashing over head, lightening flashing lighting up the night sky, and rain? not a lot, it rained hard for a few minutes put 500ltrs into the garden cube. So this morning when we eventually woke up, it was cooler smelt fresher and the oppressive feeling had gone.  During the storm you could feel the charge so intense was the atmosphere.

So the garden.  The vegetables looked really well, there are cobs forming on the corn, beans appearing on the stems and the squashes, cucumbers, and melons spreading out over the ground.  For those of you who did not know, I decided to try the American Indian way of growing food.  They planted corn then grew beans up them and covered the ground with squash which kept the moisture in.  Know what, it works here as well.

As for the tomatoes, well they are beginning to turn red.  We grow these in potato bags, and they are really going strong, there are also radish in plant troughs with rhubarb doing its thing behind the poo patch.  The poo patch I hasten to explain is a trench which we filled with a mix of chicken and goat poo – good for rhubarb.

Potatoes!  Well I planted some in the ground intending to make a patch of them, however when digging them up I discovered not a lot.  A small boiling nothing else.  So, because the heat during the next two months would cook them in the ground, we are going to plant them in a couple of bins which have had the bottom cut off in the hope of new potatoes for Christmas.

I have come to the conclusion that, as we do not use pesticides or chemicals growing needs to be done in tubs etc.,  Roll on dinner.

It is now August and next week will be September, over a month since I began to write this, and not a drop of rain.  The only things to survive have been the tomatoes and cuecumbers in the pots.  The rhubard is ok but everything else has suffered from the heat.  The water was used up last month so I am now considering a system for the garden, albeit late.  We usually get a storm or two in August but nothing this year, still life is a learning curve and I am still learning, even the birds water evaporated.

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