segunda-feira, 15 de outubro de 2012

Fruits for every meal - October fruit harvest - Chao Sobral

We do not grow fruit trees for the market, almost 100% are eaten fresh.

Na foto: Frutos de Outubro recém-apanhados, pêra, dióspiro, medronhos, framboesas, figos, uvas, castanhas, nozes, e tortulhos/cogumelos.
Pear, kaki, arbutus berry, raspberry, figs, grapes, chestnut, walnut and mushroms.

Many of them (rasberries, cherries, peach peels, Arbutus unedo berry, chestnut) are used to give flavour to our home made spirit, and produce a sweet liqueur.

Many trees are located in the gardening anually tilled area (terraces) where vegetables and legumes are grown as annual crops. Some trees are grown in soils that are not being tilled anymore, kept for goat pasture or forage . Almost all trees are watered during the summer (once every 1 or 2 weeks).

The grapes were harvested last saturday (early-mid October) by family and relatives (for making wine), but we kept some of the sweetest ones on the vines for whenever we happen to walk them by ...

Many times, for some people, fruit is the only thing they eat earlier in the morning, and they pick it direclty from the trees.

Peaches, our new young tree fruit is only now slowly turning ripe.

Apples are plenty for all meals everyday, and for the goats. Some of them will be stored and last, be eaten, through the winter.

Pears, our tree has a "overloaded" generous yield, goats have been eating the ones not ripe that have been falling for the last few weeks.

 Plums, the one tree located in the association "tree sanctuary" is late ripe variety, delicious.

Chest nut, Castanea sativa, we got the first handful today. We have one tree, more than 200 years old(partly colapsing, and a young one growing already inside it), that we care for just about 2 hours per year, cutting ferns and bramble underneath the canopy, and get a harvest of about 50-100 kilos per year.

Walnuts, we will be collecting them soon, we have been hand cleaning the ground from litter dry biomass from herbaceous plants and brambles that grow every year under and on the edge of the canopy.

Raspberries, they are offering us a second yield, now that we had some rain and we can water them more.

Figs, 4 different kinds and in different microclimates, plenty. Some trees started, a few years ago, by cuttings are now giving their first dozens.

Persimons, the goats have been eating the falling ones that turn ripe after a few days off the tree.

Planted a few months ago, this Opuntia yields its first fruit.

Blackberries, wild, almost everywhere, they were sweeter before the rain ... quite a few were used to make liqueur.

Next fruit, to ripe later in the year, are persimons, tangerines and kiwis. Arbutus berries harvest is starting now and will last through December, and olives will be harvested later in December too.

Kiwis, nearly ripe:

Arbutus unedo berries ripening from October until December.

We will be eating a lot of tangerines through the winter and we will be waiting for the loquat, cherries, apricots, raspberries, muleberries and plums again.

To be continued (with more pictures).

domingo, 14 de outubro de 2012

Cabras - Goats

Long haired goat at home, compost starters.

Humans work with goats to sustain themselves and our shared (goat)culture in the mountain, of which they are a intrinsic member.

Because we don't have other way of taking care of them outside (our terraces mosaic patches are not properly fenced), most of the time they are kept in their warm home, as if in a rock cliff cave...

They trample fresh biomass (this biomass is fresh cut plants-food that they don't eat completely) that is added every day, they pee and poo on it. A compost pile builds up in the proccess, reaching more than 1 meter inside the shed. It does not smell, but it keeps a gentle warmth. This is because high carbon content coppiced shrubs are added / Erica and Genista spp mostly, and sometimes Cystus and Cytisus-Broom.

As we live in a rather "brittle" environment (uneven distribution of humidity throughtout the year - dry summer and wet winter - see Holistic Management) goats function as "humidifiers", bio-digestors, so that the annually grown biomass needed for fertilization and building of soil on soil depleted steep rocky slopes, to be used on mountain terraces, thus proccessed in the gut and enriched biologically under their feet, nutrient and mineral cycle can occur, and along carbon will undergo its final cycling in the growing of annual crops.

As mentioned in previous post, the decomposition of this trampled and manured biomass happens to occur under the tilled soil. Creating a sponge that holds Spring time rain water and summer "once a week" flood irrigation.

They also eat everyday some hay or dry corn stalks. All food is obtained/stored/collected locally by the keepers. No food is bought. They eat kitchen scraps, early fallen fruit, prunings-tree branches.

Through Autumn and Winter, when is not raining they graze outside for a few hours on meadows or on rye patches sown just after first Autumn rains. They do this everytime in a different spot, so that rye grows back.

They are milked every day. Milk is used mostly to make cheese for home comsumption and some for special local traditional produce market, via direct relational marketing/sale.

Some people take them to the mountain everyday to browse on more than those same species that are cut and brought to them everyday.

Older goats and younger ones are butchered every year, and their meat is eaten during feast days when relatives and family come together during holy-days, specially for Easter and the Village Patron Saint Summer Feast.

Three goats in the old shed, whose 2 walls are built with dry stone only, and is partly embeded in the rocky slope. The goat at the back stands on this mother rock nearly vertical slope. Mimics the goat cave on the cracks of rocky cliffs, reminds me of Mallorca (Spain) "wild goats" hiding on this type of shelters.

Chão Sobral hamlet. Steep slope at the back with natural regeneration after 2005 forest fire. At the front: olive trees and dry grass, terrace with corn for animal fodder (light green) in between vine rows.

quinta-feira, 11 de outubro de 2012

Tree Crops: Castanea sativa

In July 2011, we paid a visit to the old Chestnut Tree, the "king of the mountain".
It is located inthe bottom of a valley-gully, in between 2 very steep slopes. This creates here a special microclimate, with a minimum of sunlight reaching the tree leaves per year. The site is usually cool and damp as there is always some water running in the creek next to this tree.
Strangely all the branches we see in the pictures below belong to 1 single tree, which has inside it a new one, already yilding nuts, that started growing from a nut in it's collapsing rottenwood core.

From under its branches, we collect every autumn from 50 to 100 kilos of nuts, maintenance takes about 1-2 hours of work per year and it consists simply of removing ferns, a few herbaceous plants, and litter biomass, so that we can see the nuts on the ground to pick them.