Tag Archives: Algarve

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.

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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

Image

Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve

The theme for this week’s WordPress photo challenge is curve. Initially I was drawn to architectural curves and the many photos I’d taken of archways and bridges. But how boring… so seeking inspiration I looked in the mirror and thought of ‘bodily ‘curve’s’ and the sculptures of Karl Heinz Stock displayed in the extensive grounds of Quintos Dos Vales wine estate near Lagoa in the Algarve.

Sculpture of Swinging Grace by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculpture of Swinging Grace by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculpture by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculpture by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculptures by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculptures by Karl Heinz Stock

How can bony be beautiful when you have curves like these?

An Organic Solution for Tomato Blight and Mildew

I am absolutely convinced that gardening in my patch of Portugal is beyond a challenge, or labour of love. Case in point: I’d no sooner tidied the patch and planted up all the vegetable plugs I’d bought from the market when I noticed brown spots on the leaves. Sigh …

Tomato Blight

Tomato Blight

There is NEVER a dull moment!

Searching the net to confirm it was indeed the dreaded blight I discovered various organic treatments; the base ingredient of which was baking soda. What the hell is Portuguese for Baking Soda, I asked myself? Okay, apparently it’s Bicarbonato de Sódio. So tomorrow I’ll be on a mission to buy some!

Yes, you can buy it. It’s located in the ‘baking’ aisle of major supermarkets such as Intermarche and Continent.

Further research also revealed that regularly spraying the plants with the following concoction also helps prevent mildew on squash, courgettes, aubergines and cucumbers etc. Fingers crossed.

Recipe (US)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 US gallon of water
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil (optional)

All the recipes are pretty standard in ingredients but not measures. I discovered (by accident) that UK gallons are different from US. How on earth did I get to xx years old and not realize there was a difference? Ho hum…

1UK gal= 4.546090L
1US gal= 3.78541

So why Bicarbonate of Soda? Apparently, when you spray the leaves with the baking soda solution it lowers the PH on the leaves which in turn helps to prevent the leaf blight spores from growing.

Application: Apply using a sprayer.
When to spray: Early morning or late evening.
What to spray: Leaves (including underside) stems and base /earth round each plant
How often: Daily – weekly. I think this depends on the location and level of humidity. I’ll spray daily and see how it goes.

I found this video and website helpful.

Website: therustedgarden.blogspot

This evening I sprayed the plants just before sunset so the solution does not burn the leaves in the heat of the sun. Hopefully … we will see what tomorrow brings and if further leaves become infected over the next week.

Have you tried using this method? If not, watch this space.

Raised Vegetable Bed – Third Time Lucky!

There is a popular phrase: Third time lucky. And as this is my third attempt to grow vegetables in my ill-fated raised vegetable bed due, to problems with hedge roots, let’s hope it’s true and I am lucky!

Just to backtrack to my previous post, Gardening IS a Labour of Love!, there were various options.

– Do I dig out all the soil (again), concrete the base and then add another couple of tiers of bricks and replenish the soil?
– Cover with black plastic membrane to suppress the weeds and then move all my containers on to the raised bed? The latter would be the easier option but it would restrict the type of fruit and vegetables I would be able to grow?
– Knock the thing down and forget it existed and persuade Mr. Piglet to get some chickens?

Seriously, what would you do?

After Mr. Piglet read on my blog, and realised just how much my ‘patch of paradise’ meant to me, he suggested the first option but without the extra layers of bricks.

Here is a picture diary of progress.

The Rebirth of Piglet’s Plot

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After the price was agreed the ‘muscle’ arrived the following week to start work. Normally, this is the type of project we’d undertake ourselves but we ain’t getting any younger. Besides, we’d already filled the raised bed once with earth, then dug it out, then refilled it AGAIN, so we decided to take the easy route and hire some muscle. And boy did those guys have muscles! Last time we removed all the earth it took us over a week – one man emptied it in one morning!

Once the earth had been cleared and the root encrusted liner removed the land was leveled to include a slope to aid drainage. A layer of brita (small stones) was added to the base of the bed followed by a healthy layer of concrete to block the roots. If that doesn’t work – I’ll give up and grow chickens instead!

I must confess, the workers, who no doubt are only earning the minimum age and living barely above the bread line, must have wondered at my obsessive extravagance as Mr. Piglet joked about my home-grown vegetables probably being the most expensive in the Algarve, if not in Portugal!

After a few days the concrete and the fully hardened off we added some water to double-check the fall and where the drainage holes would be best placed.

Then we waited… and waited… and waited. The topsoil which was due to be delivered failed to materialize and I sighed with relief at the thought: at least the person chasing broken promises was Portuguese and could shout encouraging words of abuse in their own lingo!

A few days later there was a flurry of phone calls and the lorry arrived with the soil and another with more brita. My garden became a hive of activity as muscle ‘one’ knocked out the drainage holes and inserted pipes. Muscle ‘two’ started adding the brita for drainage and the third helped me clean up the old membrane so it could act as a barrier between earth and brita – well that’s the theory.

The soil added and hey presto! Piglet’s Plot is reborn!

Piglet's Plot is reborn and root free

Piglet’s Plot is reborn and root free

Is this a sign?

This week’s theme for the Weekly Photo Challengeis Wall. Armed with my camera – or should I say new iPad – I’ve been on a mission all week to find a sign that I could relate to. Now, as a self-confessed foodie this sign grabbed my attention. Not because it was bright and garish and demanded to be read, but because it was quietly enticing and sent a clear message about their passion for food.

Food for Thought - Ristorante Paesano, Alvor

Food for Thought – Ristorante Paesano, Alvor

And, enticing enough for me to want to go back and try the restaurant. We will see…

Mr. Piglet does not wait until lunchtime before he starts asking about dinner the discussion usually starts around breakfast!

www.alvor-restaurants.com/paesano-restaurant.html

Six Unusual Holiday Activities In The Algarve

The Algarve, is not only blessed with over sixty blue flag beaches, numerous golf courses, vibrant nightlife, glorious weather but also a host of other activities visitors to the area may not always be aware of. When booking hotels and flights for your trip to the Algarve, there are several helpful websites, such as First Choice. It couldn’t be easier!

Here are my six hot tips.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Stand UP Paddle Boarding is a cross between surfing and canoeing. The SUP board is similar to a standard surfboard and the paddle, similar to that of a canoe. You can paddle board on flat waters, such as Alvor lagoon, or in open water and surfing the waves.

Paddle Boarding with Lagos SUP

Paddle Boarding with Lagos SUP

When I contacted Lagos SUP School for more information, my first question was: Is there an age limit?

“As to age, there is no age limit. Two weeks ago I went to the Bravura dam with a magnificent group of four girls, some close to 60 years.”

Paddle Boarding with Lagos SUP School

Paddle Boarding with Lagos SUP School

Beginners are advised to start in a quiet place without waves such as Alvor lagoon. SUP is easy and great fun, why not try it?

SUP - Alvor lagoon

SUP – Alvor lagoon

Grotto Trips: € 30 per person
Lessons: € 30 per student
Private coaching: € 35 per student
Dam trip & Alvor Lagoon trip € 30 per person

Lagos SUP School
Website: lagos-sup-school.com
Facebook: lagos.sup.school
Telephone: 960199612

RIVER TRIPS TO SILVES AND THE COASTAL CAVES

Looking for something different – why not take a boat trip up the Arcade river from Portimão to Silves?

River Trip to Silves

River Trip to Silves

There are currently three trips available:

Full Day Trip:
Visit magnificant caves along the local coastline. Navigate the Arcade River from Portimão and stop for lunch at a cosy riverside restaurant before returning to Portimao
Caves Tour:
Visit the caves along the local coastline – Trip Duration 1.5 hrs
Portimão to Silves

Sail up the Arcade river from Portimão to the ancient town of Silves where you can explore for 1.5 hrs before returning to Portimão

Please note: the trip to Silves is tide dependent, so do telephone first to check the time of departure.

Website: rivertriptosilves.co.uk
Email: rivertriptosilves@gmail.com
Mobile: +351 914 983 967

‘Write Now’ Creative Writing Workshop (Holiday Inn, Armação de Pêra

If you are looking for a ‘something different’, then I suggest you look no further than a  creative writing weekend organised by award winning author, Anne Aylor. The two day workshop is held at The Holiday Inn, a beautiful hotel in a stunning location right on the beach.

Creative Writing - Holiday Inn, Armação de Pêra

Creative Writing – Holiday Inn, Armação de Pêra

Regardless of whether you are a complete beginner or a published author, the workshop is great fun and almost a retreat as you ‘connect’ with your creative side.

Creative Writing Weekend with Anne Ayler at the Holiday Inn

Creative Writing Weekend with Anne Aylor at the Holiday Inn

I have now attended two of Anne’s workshops at the Holiday Inn, and have thoroughly enjoyed them!

For more information about this workshop, and others held in London and Spain check out Anne’s website: anneaylor.co.uk

Related articles: Creative Writing Course “Write Now!” and Creative Writing Course in the Algarve

Monchique Sausage Fair

(Feira dos Enchidos Tradicionais de Serra de Monchique)

The sausage fair is held on the first weekend of March in the mountain town of Monchique. Situated in the Serra de Monchique the area is not only famous for it’s locally produced products, but also for the thermal spas at Caldas de Monchique. The area was also put under the spotlight when Prime Minister David Cameron enjoyed his two week family holiday in 2013.

The fair, a two-day event, is a great opportunity to sample the famous Monchique sausage, cured hams, locally produced medronho (fire water), fig liqueur, and delicious homemade cakes! There is also live music and other entertainment throughout the day and late into the night.

There are plenty of local restaurants serving traditional Portuguese food, so before visiting the fair you might even want to continue your journey up the mountain to take in the panoramic views from Foia which is 902metres above sea level. On a clear day, the panoramic views from Faro in the east to Cape Vincent in the west are fantastic!

Delicious Monchique  Sausage Festival!

Delicious Monchique Sausage Festival!

The fair is held in the Heliporto Municipal, Monchique. There is onstreet parking and easy access.

For more information check the local website, which incidentally does translate well if you use the ‘Google translate option’. If not, your resort Tourist Information Office should be able to access the information for you.

Website: cm-monchique.pt

Related articles:
Fair of Traditional Sausages ~ Feira dos Enchidos Tradicionais de Serra de Monchique and David Cameron visits the sleepy town of Aljezur

Silves Medieval Fair

For anyone on holiday during the second week of August, the Silves Medieval Fair should be included in your itinerary. The ancient, and winding streets of the Moorish town of Silves are lined with stalls selling tempting food, crafts and other interesting sundries. Tips: Don’t eat before you go because there are numerous stalls where you can buy food and then sit on straw bales to soak in the ambience. When you order Sangria, it is served in a rustic terracotta mug. You are charged for the mug but then it is yours to keep and replenish with Sangria at the various stalls as you wander round the streets.

Silves Medieval Fair

Silves Medieval Fair

There are street entertainers, music and even a jousting event which is well worth a visit, especially if your feet ache and you need to recharge your batteries!

Silves Medieval Fair

Silves Medieval Fair

If you really want to sample the ‘Medieval Experience’, you can hire costumes. Adults €3.00 and Children €2.00. Although from personal experience the temperature in Silves often exceeds 30C so take this into consideration before hiring. It’s hot!

I also recommend good non-slip footwear as the cobbled streets are VERY slippery.

Silves Medieval Fair

Silves Medieval Fair

Duration of fair: 10 days
Opening hours: 18.00-01.00
Entrance fee to the fair is only €2.00. No charge for children under 1.3 metres.

There is some disabled parking but you will need to arrive early (17.30).

Website: cm-silves.pt
Facebook: Feira Medieval de Silves

Related Articles: 
Silves Medieval Fair 2010
Silves Medieval Fair 2011
Silves Medieval Fair 2012

Festival da Batata Doce (Sweet Potato Festival)

If you are on holiday during the last weekend of November and looking for a day out away from the beaten tourist track of the Algarve, why not venture up to the Moorish town of Aljezur to experience the Sweet Potato Festival? The event is held in the Espaço Multiuso de Aljezur and is well signposted.

Sweet Potato Festival - Aljezur

Sweet Potato Festival – Aljezur

Check out the local crafts

Craft Stall - Sweet Potato Fesitival

Craft Stall – Sweet Potato Fesitival

Sample the local liqueurs – they are delicious! I can highly recommend fig and almond. Did you know you can even buy liquors made from sweet potatoes? No neither did I!

Sample some Liquors

Sample some Liquors

Better still, try some sweet potato cakes!

Delicious Sweet Potato Cakes

Delicious Sweet Potato Cakes

Opens 12.00hm until 24.00h

Website: cm-aljezur.pt or your local resort tourist information should have the details.

Related Articles:
Sweet Potato Festival – Festival da Batata-Doce de Aljezur.

Photo Credits
Paddle Boarding:h Lagos SUP School
Creative Writing: Anne Aylor
Silves River Trips

Growing Cucumbers in Pots

Growing cucumbers in a Pot

Growing cucumbers in a Pot

One of my many ‘container’ gardening successes is growing cucumbers in pots. Rather than plant seeds and wait weeks for them to germinate I buy the seedling plugs from local markets.
The only downside is that there are no “fancy” varieties to choose from, or perhaps I should view that as an upside because the plants they sell are hardy and more suited to the climate of the local area. If the veteran Portuguese gardeners are buying them for their hortas, then the varieties are good enough for me.

Growing cucumbers in pots

Growing cucumbers in pots

When to plant: Cucumber plants are available in the Algarve from January onwards although this year I never planted any until March and then not again until May.

Containers: I use a 12x12inch plant pots planting three plants per pot.

Soil: I use a good quality general purpose compost which I mix with sandy soil. Three parts compost to one part soil.

Feed: Once the flowers have formed I feed weekly with MiracleGro or liquid manure which I make from soaking Alpaca or horse manure.

Watering: Water daily and don’t let the soil dry out. I made that mistake and the baby cucumbers withered and died.

Related posts: