Since the tragic fires in Portugal in June and October of this year that caused so many deaths, the Portuguese government has now ordered that everyone must clear their land by March 2018. Well we had already planned to do this back in June, but had found ourselves in a catch 22 situation as we needed heavy duty machinery to clear the land, but because of the danger of the machinery causing sparks we had to wait for the dry fire season to be officially over, and fire season didn’t end until the beginning of November, which felt like a never ending wait!
We are relieved that for the past 6 weeks Pedro and his team have been clearing the 6 hectares of land, driving tractors up and down the steep hills clearing and creating new paths. Meanwhile we have been burning much of the shteva, dead branches and old eucalyptus leaves that were piled up high in various places around the land and slowly the land is beginning to reveal itself to us.
We were delighted to find a large field at the bottom of the valley, this had previously been overgrown with brambles and shteva etc. The field is rich with fertile soil so we are excited and optimistic about next years harvest and will begin to plant our veggies when spring approaches. I dream of growing peppers, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbages and salads, cooking them fresh from the land.
We also plan to plant almond and carob trees on the south side of the valley, as this is the driest part of our land and neither of these trees need a lot of water. Ellis will also dig some swales at the top of the hill to collect rain water. These are trenches that run along the contours of the land, the collected water will then slowly be absorbed into the ground and hopefully over time should begin to make the south side of the hill more fertile. We are learning all these techniques through books, YouTube and many conversations; it is all a bit of an experiment of trial and error for us.
Watch this space!