Sunday, June 9, 2019

Catching up

ETA:  Even more apologies for not replying to your lovely comments.  It´s an issue of logging in to Blogger through Google, I think.  But I have yet to figure out how to get around it.  Sorry!

Apologies for not posting in so long.  I´ve been busy with the flower farm and trying to minimize the destruction of the puppy princess.  Add to that ongoing family drama and there´s little time for blogging.

We´ve had a very unpredictable spring in terms of weather.  Heat waves in February and May, lately cold snaps and ¨cyclogenesis explosivos¨ or cold front rainstorms with high winds.  We even had a frost yesterday, in the middle of June.

It seems to me that I´ve been blogging about the garden for so long, and I don´t want to bore those who aren´t interested.  I have been visiting florists and the reception has been generally positive, though orders are non-existant.  I need to work on selling.

The latest culinary project is chive infused vinegar.  Very simple to make, it´s about 1 cup of chive flowers to 1 1/2 cups of white vinegar.  Crush the flowers (fresh and not too past their peak) before adding the vinegar.  Let sit 2 weeks at room temperature in dark storage.  Strain and ready for use on salads.  It turns a beautiful pink color.  I´m going to give more thought to edible flowers.

Briga continues to be a challenge at eight months.  Now weighing in at 30 kilos, her latest obsession, aside from digging and stealing footwear to chew on, is climbing.  We found her up on the ¨roof¨ of the barn the other day.  V nearly broke his neck getting her down.  At least the enclosure around the flower patch is finished and seems to be working.  Fingers crossed.

In other news, there are projects on the horizon.  I desperately need a space to store craft stuff and process harvested flowers, so I´m studying the Swedish empire catalogue for cabinets to finish the laundry area.  And we may finally see progress on the barn this summer.  Stay tuned.

Galicia remains bewitchingly beautiful, and thankfully far away from the horrors which dominate the news.  I´ve planted tomatoes, onions, carrots and green beans, along with more flowers.  The roses have been particularly spectacular this year. We have firewood that should see us through the end of the year.  Breo continues to be a miracle of patience and loyalty, especially when I´d like to strangle his little sister.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


The weather has been, to say the least, changeable.  We had a series of hot sunny days for the last half of March and now it´s raining again.

While it was warm and dry, Manolo the tractor guy came by and did a final discing of the new areas.  V and I rented a post hole digger and managed to get the posts up before the rain started again.  Now we need to brace the corners and put on the metal mesh fencing.  I still have to figure out gates.  All that has to be in place before I can start creating raised beds because the dogs will destroy all the work in record time.

We also had a visit from the well-digger.  As was to be expected, he immediately dismissed the exiting bore hole (with visible, standing water) as too small and essentially useless.  He actually got out a water wand and walked around for a while.  Now, knowing that basically anywhere you pick up a rock around here has a spring underneath, especially at this time of year, I think this was mostly theatre.  And, for the princely sum of 1500 - 2000 €, they could dig us a new well, which would then need electrical service for the pump and a structure.  Keep in mind our city water bill is about 25€ every three months.  The numbers don´t really pencil out.  So if anyone has suggestions as to what we can rig together to make the existing pipe work, while we wait to have roofs and storage tanks appear, let me know.

As far as flowers, the anemones are just beautiful and seem quite happy.  I´m definitely planting more next year.  On the other hand, the ranunculus started flowering with the heat wave after suffering from some freeze burn and botrytis.  So they´re a little skimpy on foliage, quite short, and now unhappy to be in the pouring, cold rain.  Next year low tunnels are going to be on the to-do list.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Gardening with a Puppy

Briga is 5 months old now.  On the plus side, she´s beautiful and healthy and starting to have moments of calm.  One the other hand, she´s very naughty and is convinced she´s a goat.  She´s never seen anything she didn´t want to climb.  Walls, structures, tables, she wants a bird´s eye view.

So V was in Madrid for work for a week and we started out with this.  Briga is also intensely interested in mining studies.  She has started excavations all around the property.  This is a dry stack planter for a grape vine we hope will eventually shade the south facing façade of the house.  We stacked some extra rock around the grapevine to discourage her attentions.

A couple of days later, I went out the kitchen door to find this. Note the presence of her ¨supervisor.¨

Besides the digging and the climbing, she has knocked over or broken off a bunch of the ranunculus and snapdragons and dug up roses and dianthus.  She´s recently started in on the tulips emerging from the ground and pulled out all the gladiolus bulbs from the raised beds.

Oh, and nobody bothered to tell me that bagged, pelleted organic horse manure is like crack to dogs.  Both of them had their heads in the plant containers for days after I put it out.

Sturdy fencing will have to wait until the expanded planting area is disced once more, probably in April, and then I can start sinking fence posts.

And then V came home.  (Notice the Briga effect on the other planter.)

Friday, February 8, 2019

Buy Local and Seasonal for Valentine´s Day

It´s time for my annual reminder.  If you´re planing to order flowers for someone for Valentine´s Day, or any other flowery holiday, please ask if they source from local producers.  Even if they don´t, every year more florists do buy locally and it raises awareness that consumers care about where their product comes from and the environmental and economic impact their purchases have. As a favor to your florist, reserve early.

Local flower farms tend to be small acreage, family run, and many follow organic principals, even if they aren´t certified.  They benefit local economies, and provide vital resources for local wildlife and insect populations which are in critical conditions in many areas.

Since the 1990´s, cheap imported flowers from South America and Africa have had an enormous impact on domestic production, both in the US and Europe.  Items imported from abroad are not required to meet the same labor and environmental standards as those grown domestically. The flowers in your typical supermarket bouquet, in other words, were likely tended by underpaid laborers exposed to harmful pesticides, preserved with chemicals, and cut days or even weeks earlier.

Needless to say, this is hardly beneficial to local economies or the environment.  And, much like the local food movement, Debra Prenzing and the Slow Flower movement have been working to raise awareness in the States of the impact of domestically produced flowers.  Their manifesto:

Slow Flowers commits to the following practices:
  • To recognize and respect the seasons by celebrating and designing with flowers when they naturally bloom
  • To reduce the transportation footprint of the flowers and foliage consumed in the marketplace by sourcing as locally as possible
  • To support flower farmers small and large by crediting them when possible through proper labeling at the wholesale and consumer level
  • To encourage sustainable and organic farming practices that respect people and the environment
  • To eliminate waste and the use of chemical products in the floral industry
So, should you be of a mind to send someone some lovely flowers for Valentine´s, please consider asking for locally grown, be they American, British or Spanish grown flowers.  Grown not flown.

Some links:

Flowers from the Farm - UK

American Gown Flowers - CAG United States

Floret Flower Directory - US/Canada/Worldwide

Floradeira - Florist/Flower Farm, La Coruña

Indigobygm - Florist, Pontevedra

FlowrswelcomeHome - Florist/Farm, Madrid area

Floritismo - Florist/Farm, Barcelona area

Sunday, January 27, 2019

More garden

On the last day of a sunny spell, Manolo the tractor guy came and disced the expansion of the flower patch to about double, and the old garden that took me literally years to dig by hand.  He´ll come back when it stops raining in May to re-disc and leave it nice and crumbly for making raised beds. I´m thinking I´d like a perennial/physic/monks garden with herbs and roses up in that corner, but for the time being it´s just a big muddy space where the dogs get filthy.

Yesterday, I re-trenched along the old patch, in anticipation of the two weeks of rain predicted. I´m tired.  And crabby. And what´s really exhausting is that continual sense that you don´t know what you´re doing. I wish I could have started all this 5 years ago, but that´s the way these things go, I guess.  Better now that 5 years later.  As it is, I have to do everything in half hour intervals after doggie walks, between doggie meals, during doggie naps and for the time Briga will tolerate being tied up and teased by her big brother, assuming it´s not raining.

My biggest challenges right now are the weather and the dogs.  The puppy gets under the plastic mesh and what she doesn´t dig up, she tramples.  She´ll go wild when I start flinging old horse bedding around.  Now I´m tired again just thinking about it.

Monday, January 14, 2019

2018 in Review

It´s time again for that year in review post.

I´m afraid not much on the list of 2018 got done - again.  Once again, economics got in the way of the bigger projects.

No well.
No barn.
No laundry room.

But, I did make progress on the flower farm.  Didn´t sell anything at the market as they have a waiting list and a 2 page long list of administrative requirements, but I gave away several nice bouquets to neighbors (bonus points for social engagement), had lots for guests over the summer, started up an Instagram account, refocused the Romanesca Facebook page and got actual enquiries from other businesses.  Met some guys in Pontevedra who are absolutely deeeelightful and have exactly the same interests in wild, organic flowers and greenery that I do.  They are keeping me sane and giving me hope.  If you´re in Pontevedra check out Indigobygm.  And, I´m in a Whatsup chat with several other women who are flower farming around Spain, so I can ask questions and get experienced answers.  Thank you social media!  Did a lot of reading and planted a bunch of seeds and bulbs/corms in the fall for Spring 2019.

And Breo is now enrolled in school at Montegatto, in Oza dos Rios.  We´ve signed up for 10 classes with the trainer, who will help us out on basic obedience and getting him to cooperate a little more on the leash.

And finally, we brought home Briga!  She is growing apace, and starting to settle down into a good puppy.  Not quite so much ferocious biting, lots more tail wagging and we´re tremendously relieved she sleeps through the night now.  We´ll be applying what we learn with Breo to her, and hope to have 2 well-behaved, well-adjusted canine companions by summertime.

In the meantime, we´re stocking up on more firewood during this frosty spell.  Now looking at two weeks of rainy weather, and so, so much more weeding to do.

And started some sweet pea seeds for planting out in a few weeks.  Onward and upward.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Happy Holidays!

This was the best I could do this year.

Because then this happened.

Wishing all of you a happy, healthy 2019!!