Tag Archives: Algarve

Creative Ideas: Upcycling Plastic Crates to a Garden Cloche

Upcycling vs. Recycling

For some reason I’d always assumed (ass-U-me) that anything we ‘reused’, rather than throw in the garbage, was  recycling; apparently not. Upcycling is reusing an item, such as the plastic crate pictured below, and creatively using it for something else. While recycling is taking items made of plastic, metal, paper etc. to the recycling areas. The items are reprocessed and manufactured either into the same, or new product.

Upcycling is being creative by using what we have. Recycling reduces waste (otherwise dumped in landfill sites), and  reprocessed.

Upcyclng Plastic Crates

We often see this type of plastic crate dumped in or beside the garbage bins. (We don’t have the luxury of house-to-house refuge collection we use communal facilites.) So using my creative spirit I collect discarded items, such as these humble crates, and put them to use in my garden.

The weather has been very cold at night with temperatures as low as 1C. We’ve also had heavy rain showers for weeks so I decided my baby vegetable plants needed protection from the elements.

With this in mind I decided to make some mini garden cloches.

Materials

1. Two plastic crates
2. Clear plastic sheets (I reused a large plastic bag which protected my new mattress when it was delivered)
3. 4 sticks. I used bamboo canes.
4. String

Plastic crate

Plastic crate

The plastic crates used for this project have an insert in each corner. You can of course utilize other types of crates and just be creative  how you attach the supports.

Plastic crate - corner holes

Plastic crate – corner holes

Cut 4 sticks the same size and insert. This will form the base of the cloche.

Cut four sticks of equal size to insert in holes

Cut four sticks of equal size to insert in holes

Cover top of crate with plastic sheet

Cover top of crate with plastic sheet

Cover the top of the crate with plastic and secure with string. I allowed extra plastic on one side of the crate for extra protection if needed.

Cover crate with clear plastic

Cover crate with clear plastic

Align the sticks with corner recesses in top plastic crate and voilá! One upcycled garden cloche.

connect the two plastic crates with sticks

connect the two plastic crates with sticks

Pull down the extra plastic flap as and when needed

Mini cloche from recycled plastic crates and heavy duty plastic bag

Mini cloche from recycled plastic crates and heavy duty plastic bag

——————–

Base of cloche

Base of cloche

The yellow peppers were too tender to be planted in the vegetable garden so thank goodness for the mini greenhouse.

Almost there!

Almost there!

At night I pull down the plastic flap for extra protection.

Voila! Piglet's Clothe made from plastic crates, heavy duty plastic bag and four pieces of cane.

Voila! Piglet’s mini greenhouse made from plastic crates, a heavy duty plastic bag and four pieces of cane.

My garden cloche may not be ‘twee’ but it works perfectly well.

Related Post: Recycling water in the home
Reference re upcycling: EJ Environment Journal

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‘Assisted’  Travel from Faro to Lyon–Saint Exupéry Airport

Last September I injured my knee, so after months of pain I finally consulted with an orthopedic specialist who organised an MRI scan and X-ray.  The diagnosis: I had a ruptured meniscus, tendonitis, arthritis and a crack in my knee bone. Ouch! I consoled myself with the fact there are people far worse than myself so it is fingers and toes crossed my injuries are only temporary. However, I had never considered just how challenging it is for people with mobility issues to travel until I took a flight to Lyon.

My injury basically means I am unable to walk very far or stand for long periods (queuing).

So faced with the challenge of travelling to France and standing around at airports for long periods with often no option to sit down, we added ‘assistance required’ to our booking.

My first experience of assisted travel was on a flight from Faro to Lyon. You prebook ‘assistance’ with the airline so airport staff are available to help with your needs. We arrived at Faro airport and husband left me and the luggage in the departures drop-off area while he went to park the car. Being an ‘Assisted Travel’ virgin, and not conversant with procedure, I hobbled to the Information desk where I they could either summon a porter to bring a wheelchair or I could check in first. I chose the latter. For reference: There is an intercom at the drop-off car park should you need assistance right through.

Once checked in we were directed to a seating area to wait for assistance. After what seemed an interminable wait my chariot arrived courtesy of a charming Portuguese man with laughing eyes and a kind demeanor. He carefully helped me position the wheelchair foot plates so I could rest my trolley bag between my legs, then I was whisked off at G-force speed (or so it seemed) through the departure lounge towards security and passport control.

It was strange observing the world at this level and I felt slightly nauseous as every bump was exacerbated by the lack of suspension due to the wheels of my chariot probably being cloned from a supermarket trolley.  Plus, I had no control of speed or direction as we zigzagged through a sea of people.

At security we went straight to the front of queue then to the boarding area and parked with all the other wheelchairs. My assistant would be back later to help me board the plane. And indeed he was. What a charming young man!

When we arrived at Lyon airport what a stark contrast in service and attitude: I was directed into the lift to transport me from the plane to ground level. My husband was waved away. I was then told to step up onto a bus. I looked at the height of the step and shook my head. They grunted and shrugged before begrudgingly producing a step.

Once on the bus I looked around for my husband. He was nowhere to be seen. I tried to explain in my broken French he had my passport and ticket but my pleas were met with a ‘hmmmph’ and a hostile glare.

At arrivals area (or some building) I was plonked in a wheelchair and we raced along the corridors. There was no consideration or care as the assistants chatted and laughed noisily above my head. It was then I spotted I was being pushed straight towards a closed glass door. Surely she would see it was closed. No, the woman rammed my knees full speed into the doors. She tutted and made no apology; I was just another piece of luggage.

“Excuse ‘em moi, Madame, have a care’. Now in a lot of pain I began to cry.

We finally got to the entrance of the baggage area and I was evicted from the wheelchair as apparently their job was done. They were outside staff and did not work inside. Someone else would have to deal with me.

I looked at them in horror. The exit was a lengthy walk; I had no way of contacting my husband and no paperwork.  I could feel a panic attack welling up inside me. I think at this point they could tell I was about to howl like a baby and have a dummy spit.

In the meantime, my husband had collected our luggage and was outside trying to find me. Unsuccessful, he tried to locate someone who could help him. As is usual, it is always someone else’s problem and he was directed from help desk to information and back lugging a heavy suitcase and two trolley bags.

After my dummy spit a wheelchair and porter miraculously materialised and I was dumped in the arrivals lounge just as my husband came into view.

What a contrast to the way I was treated at Faro.

My one regret is that I never made a formal complaint about the way I was processed.

Our return journey was a little better but once in Portugal I was no longer treated as ‘baggage’. In fact, my porter was so helpful he took me to the drop-off point and made sure I had somewhere to sit while my husband collected the car. He was so kind and considerate we gave him a tip. Faro airport, you should give yourself a slap on the back for the compassion and patience of your staff who help passengers with mobility issues.

What is your experience or observations regarding assisted travel?

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

Growing Strawberries in January

Growing strawberries in the Algarve -  Jan 2018

Growing strawberries in the Algarve – Jan 2018

In the Western Algarve growing strawberries in January is relatively easy. Dare I say we do not have ground frost and temperatures can reach a high of 18c during the day and from between 2C to 12C at night.

Growing strawberries in containers Jan 2018

Growing strawberries in containers Jan 2018

I have found the best method of growing strawberries during the winter months is in containers which I move to a sunny location. I then cover with a a plastic cloche to not only retain the heat but also deter greedy blackbirds.

strawberries undercover -Jan 2018

strawberries undercover -Jan 2018

As an experiment I also moved some strawberry plants to my raised vegetable bed and have a selection of plants which are not covered – the plants are okay but they are not as advanced as the plants pictured below which are covered.

Strawberries in raised bed - Jan 2018

Strawberries in raised bed – Jan 2018

Soil for both container and raised bed is a mix of manure, home and commercial compost. I also feed with fruit feed once the plants start to flower.

Related Posts:

Strawberry Quest
What does growing strawberries and recycling have in common?

Fake Flowers on Cacti – What a Con. Buyer BEWARE!!!

One of my pet peeves is the straw flowers they add to cacti. Not only is it cruel to stick a sharp stick into the flesh of the cacti it is misleading to the unsuspecting buyer.

Cacti with straw flower attached with stick

Cactus with a straw flowers

This is one of the first cacti I purchased and I was not aware such a practice existed. It was only when my husband pointed out that the flowers had not changed in two months I inspected the cacti a little more closely. You can imagine my horror when I discovered the flowers were attached to a cocktail stick which was thrust deep into the flesh of the cactus.

I carefully removed the sticks and the poor plant was left with two gaping holes.

straw flowers on cacti - what a con!

straw flowers on cacti – what a con!

Do you feel this is acceptable or misleading?

 

 

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

When you drive from Lagos along the N125 towards Sagres after about 20 kms you will discover the most amazing and probably one of the best selections of pottery on the Algarve. It is the second pottery shop on the left-hand side just before Vila Do Bishpo. You can’t miss it It’s easily recognizable as the front elevation is covered in decorative wall plates. However as you can’t turn across the road you will need to continue until the next roundabout and then turn back towards Lagos.

I say shop but Paraiso Artesano is actually so huge ‘pottery warehouse’ is a more accurate description.

I was completely blown away by the huge selection of ceramics and terracotta, craftwork, linen and variety of miscellaneous gifts and knickknacks. But be warned, they only take cash. They also have a seconds area where you can pick up some good bargains.

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano - Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Paraiso Artesano – Pottery Shop, Vila do Bispo, Algarve

Pachypodium Lamerei – Madagascar Cactus Palm

Pachypodium Lamerei

Pachypodium Lamerei

I have a delightful new addition to my cacti/succulent family. It was a present from some dear friends who attended the Mediterranean Garden Show in the Eastern Algarve. They know I love quirky, so they bought me quirky.

Thank you *big smilie face*

After thanking them for the gift I asked them for the name of the plant… err they didn’t know. Ah, right. I then took a photo and consulted Mr. Google with an image search. His best guess was a palm tree. No, Mr Google, it is NOT a palm tree, FAIL! (Turns out hew was closer than I original thought)

Well, if Mr. Google can’t recognise this alien plant what an earth is it? Okay, thinking outside the box I typed: ‘cacti with leaves’, in the search box.

Eureka! It’s a succulent palm! – A Pachypodium Lamerei (Madagascar Palm)

I’ve called it Madge.

Facts

The Pachypodium Lamerei originates from Madagascar in Africa. according to further research on Guide to Houseplants , it isn’t really a palm but a succulent from the Apocyanaceae family.

Flowers: Yes, it has clusters of fragrant, white flowers in summer (on mature plants) if it has plenty of sunlight.
Leaves: It may drop it’s leaves in winter so don’t panic.
Temperature: The Madagascar Palm won’t tolerate frost and the world of succulents website states:

the minimum temperature is about 55° F (13° C), but it depends very much on the moisture of the substrate. The drier the substrate, the lower temperatures are possible. Ideally you shouldn’t fall below a minimum temperature of 59° F (15° C) during the rest period.
Bad news for Madge – she will live outside on a covered sheltered terrace, in full sun next to the house wall. Our winter temps can drop down to +1C at night so hopefully she will be okay.

Water: Water thoroughly and only allow the top of to dry out between waterings in the summer. Sounds like sound advice but my pots aren’t transparent. Another site

For beginners it is sometimes difficult to consider when and how much water you should give the Pachypodium. You should not treat it like a cactus in any case. A helpful rule is to not be completely dry to the soil during periods of growth before it is poured again.

Soil: 2 parts soil 1 part sharp sand or perlite.
Feed: Spring and summer with cacti fertiliser

After extensive research I now wonder how I will care for Madge during the winter months. While we have space indoors, the rooms do not get direct sunlight. Maybe I will need to leave her outside until the colder weather takes hold then just bring her inside for a few months. I think it will be a matter of trial and error.
Reference:
http://www.guide-to-houseplants.com/madagascar-palm.html
http://worldofsucculents.com/how-to-grow-and-care-for-pachypodium/

Order or Out of Order?

My passion for gardening has now extended to include collecting succulents and cacti so every time I visit a garden centre my first port of call is the succulent and cacti bays. So far choice has been limited as most garden centres and shops sell nigh on the same plants. If anyone knows any specialist centres along the Algarve or Alentejo please let me know.

You can imagine my surprise when I spotted these!

Mix and Match Cacti

Mix and Match Cacti

Apparently they are grafted cacti. I am not sure … to me they look grotesque. I never bought one.

What do you think?

Stretching the imagination into the realms of weird horror I wonder if in years to come they will be be grafting a woman’s head onto a man’s body. Or even a dog’s head onto a cat or a dog’s head onto a man!

This post was prompted by the photo challenge prompt Order not by excess vinho.

Piglet’s Plot: Problems With My Onions

Onion Blight

Onion Blight

You name it, my fruit and vegetables probably have caught/will catch it. I was a sickly child and my fruit and veg seem to be following in the family tradition. With this in mind I literally love my plants to death, or so I’ve been told.

In December I added rotted horse manure to the plot, so I was anticipating bumper crops of the usual suspects such as onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, peppers and beans to name a few.

The  baby onion plugs bought from the local market and planted in February were looking good and we’d already enjoyed several feeds of Spring onions. I always plant more than required then thin the rows and leave the remaining onions to develop. Well, that was the plan until disaster struck!

Last week I went to talk to my onions, as you do, and was horrified to discover they had developed, according to Mr. Google who dug up no-dig-vegetablegarden.com to help solve the mystery, a virus: Botrytis (I think).  This is a fungus species which affects onions and as there are three different types.

  • Botrytis squamosa (leaf blight)
  • Botrytis cinerea (leaf fleck)
  • Botrytis allii (neck rot)

I decided the problem was leaf blight (Botrytis squamosa) which spreads rapidly or Downy Mildew. (Downy Mildew is fungal and can be treated with a weekly application of organic fungicide)

onion blight

onion blight

I don’t know what caused this other than high humidity.

After deliberating for several hours I decided not to take any chances and dig up the crop and salvage what I could – some for immediate use and dry the smaller onions ready for pickling.

The leaves were disposed of so as to avoid cross-contamination to other plants.

I will not attempt to plant further onions this year but will focus my energy (and water) on the remaining crop of tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, radish, peppers and rocket.

Why Are My Kumquat Leaves Yellow?

After making some Kumquat marmalade which was absolutely delicious, I decided to grow my own Kumquat tree.

Kumquats

Kumquats


Kumquats are expensive here in Portugal so planting my own tree seemed the logical step says she, who kills most things including fig trees which are meant to be indestructible.

Fingers firmly crossed I planted a healthy tree in April 2016.

Fast forward four months and the kumquat leaves are yellow but apart from that the tree seems healthy with no leaf fall. At first, I thought it was under-watering, no. Then over-watering, negative.

My kumquat tree has yellow leaves

My kumquat tree has yellow leaves – August 2016

I trawled the internet and the problem appears to be a nutrient deficiency

According to Best Plants

Yellow and dull looking leaves often means the plant is lacking the necessary nutrients magnesium or sulfur. Apply Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), adding it to fertilizer placed in the soil once per month. For more direct approach, 1 tablespoon can be mixed with a gallon of water and sprayed directly onto the leaves. Be patient as different plants respond faster than others to applications.

This is an excellent website with lots of useful tips.

I then studied various other sites and yellowing of leaves could mean the roots are too wet or too dry, low temperatures, or lack of feeding. I can rule out low temperatures because some days the temperatures have been in the high twenties to mid thirties. Too much water/not enough? It receives no more than my strawberry tubs because it is on the same watering system.

Further investigation reveals it is probably Chlorosis which is used to describe the symptoms of uniform yellowing of leaves.

Kumquat Tree - Chlorosis, uniform yellowing of leaves

Kumquat Tree – Chlorosis, uniform yellowing of leaves

Green chlorophyll requires iron and manganese. Lack of these nutrients result in the yellowing between the leaf veins

So what’s the cure?

According to the Garden of Eaden blog (I won’t include a link to their website as I was bombarded with annoying popups) chlorosis is treated by

spraying leaves with soluble iron foliar feeds every 2 – 4 weeks or by lowering the soil pH.

Or by applying nutrients to the soil surface. Suggested: soluble, acidic plant fertilizers such as Miracid or Sequestration as a weekly liquid feed. As I have neither of the above in store cupboard I am going to try Epsom salts. It’s got to worth a try, yes?

Dosage: Dissolve 2 teaspoons of Epsom Salts to 1 litre of water and apply every fourteen days.

The experiment started today. I sprayed the leaves and watered the plant with the remainder.

All suggestions,tips and advice welcome!

Why does my Aloe Arborescens have black leaves?

Is there a cure?

About a year ago I noticed my Aloe Arborescens were covered in dappled black marks, and after a few months the leaves turned black, shriveled and died.

 Aloe Arborescen - black marks on leaves

Aloe Arborescens – black marks on leaves

There is an old adage: Don’t put off till tomorrow what you should do today.

Unfortunately, I never acted immediately and when I did seek advice I was told it was a virus and there was basically nothing I could do to  cure it. I was then advised to remove all the affected leaves so only the new growth remained. I tried, but after spending many back-breaking hours pulling off the dead leaves I decided the plant was too far gone and we cut it back to ground level.

Apparently Aloe’s are rarely affected by pests although the root and dry rot can be a problem. I was about to give up on my mission to discover the cause of the black marks when someone suggested it could be a fungus due to humidity. Ah ha! After an extensive search of the web looking for clues I discovered:

Insects such as aphids and snout beetles sometimes attack aloes, and they occasionally fall prey to fungal diseases, such as rust, especially if they are growing close together. Spray the plants with a systemic insecticide to stop the sucking insects in their tracks.
Make sure that the poison runs into the growth points between the leaves as well. A fungicide with a copper base can help to control diseases such as rust, which are a nuisance in humid climates.

Credit: An article published on The Gardener

I am on a mission to find a fungicide with a copper base to save my one remaining Aloe Arborescen growing in another part of the garden. Can anyone recommend a product which I can buy here in Portugal or from the net?

Aloe Arborescen with black marks on leaves

Aloe Arborescen with black marks on leaves

All the plants pictured above have since been cut down to ground level in the hope they will regrow and I will get a second chance.

Fingers crossed!

Does anyone have any other suggestions or advice, please?

Other useful websites:
TipsPlants.com
PlantsAfrica.com