This summer, our second in Saint Terisinha’s Refuge and Lounge, as I call our apartamento, the garden is not only feeding us richly, but has been a source of great fun and a really pretty place to be. We have bees buzzing and butterflies, the scent of the different herbs. Being in the middle of all the green growing plants, knowing you had a part in making it happen. It is a little piece of paradise.
When we moved in a year ago the little patch of land in the courtyard below had some neglected fruit trees and a very pretty bird of paradise. Now after a year of tending the soil the sad drooping peach tree of last summer is now loaded with sweet juicy fruit. There is much so we have a two peach a day rule. Everyone eats two peaches each day; we don’t want to waste a single one of these beauties. And lemons, the two trees keep us with enough lemons for all the sardines we can grill.
Last summer we started the garden, trimmed the trees, hoed the dirt and carried cobblestones from a big pile of them in the field down the hill to use as borders. It fed the resident bugs very well. I think we had one serving of spinach out of it. We then got serious, started a compost pile in the corner of the “farm”, on nice days during the winter going out and turning the soil and making it nice and rich with the nasty compost and sprinkles of horsey droppings. Imagine if you will, our favorite gift this year has been a bag of horse poop! Of course, we are organic or “sem chemical” gardeners.
It has paid off in spades! The spinach is out of control. The freezer is full of cooked organic spinach, for lasagna, Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie). Potatoes, Green beans climbing the fence into the trees making the lemon tree look like a lemon/green bean tree, leeks, chives, all the herbs you need and some you didn’t know you need. The brussels still need to sprout, but they might be a winter type of veggie. Figs are ripening, but we know where better ones grow wild. On our terrace upstairs we have our mini garden with chili peppers or piri-piri as they are called in Portugal, an essential around our casa. Cilantro, the fresh parsley and my beloved rosemary bush. Just started to branch out into flowers. I am determined to have some huge sunflowers, when I see them in our neighbor’s gardens so tall and beautiful, I stop and stare, amazed such a flower exists.
Each time we each we count the ingredients on our plate from our garden. Last night the citizen made a fantastic cream of green bean soup. The potatoes, green beans, basil, parsley, lemon; all home grown. We only had to buy the black pepper and the cream, and the bread we ate with it. We counted up our dinner cost to be under two Euros thanks to the garden. Our landlords have lettuce and tomatoes growing in planters in the front, so we when we want a salad, we just step out front and pick a few leaves in exchange for keeping them watered.
Just wait until next year. The citizen has plans. There are a lot of things I still want to do, I just never thought farming was on the list, but hey, you have to eat and we can always barter our extra with our little supermerchado. Just have to plant enough grapes and I’ll be happy. Note to self: Look up winemaking kits on Google.