Tag Archives: garden

Bird song: Willow Warbler

We are getting better at identifying birds, especially the small Sparrow-sized ones which are a thousand variations of brown. One of our latest identification triumphs is the Willow Warbler, a tiny – 11cm long – warbler which visits us here for the summer from sub-Saharan Africa.

[photo: Wikipedia]

[photo: Wikipedia]

He sat on a shrub singing away, a beautiful fluid song, not frightened by our proximity and curiosity. Like a lot of small songbirds, his song is bigger and louder than he is. He is plain grey- brown all over except for a pale stripe above his eye, and a buff white chest and belly.

Listen to the Willow Warbler’s song here at the RSPB website.

5 to remember
último – latest
un triunfo – a triumph
una curruca – a warbler
nuestra proximidad – our proximity
nuestra curiosidad – our curiosity

Listen to the song of these other birds we see in our Spanish valley:-
Cuckoo
Booted Eagle
Jay

 

Our most used bird book?
Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe [UK: Collins]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The fluid song of a summer visitor: the Willow Warbler #Birds in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1KD

Fifty Shades of White #6

Plum blossom. April 5, 2015

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The fruit is coming… plum blossom in the #secretvalley in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2b4

Wild rosehips

I grew up thinking hips and haws were different things, hips belonged to roses, haws to hawthorns. So I thought. Now I realize they are different names for the same thing. A rosehip, or haw, or hep, is the red or orange fruit of the rose. They begin to form after pollination in the spring or early summer and ripen in late summer and autumn. Here, they hang onto the wild rose bushes all winter. If the birds don’t spot them.

Rosehips are high in vitamin C and, knowing this, I really should pick some and have a go at making something. Tea, jam, syrup. They can also, apparently, be eaten raw; if you avoid eating the hairs inside the fruit. I’ve never done this and I do not recommend eating anything picked wild unless you are 100% sure what it is: if in doubt, take it to your local farmacia.

5 to remember
un arrecife – a rosehip
la polinización – the pollination
tener una ida – to have a go
no lo recomiendo – I do not recommend
la farmacia – the pharmacy

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Hips, haws & heps: wild roses in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley #garden http://wp.me/p3dYp6-29g

Abundance in the huerta

The huerta is at its messiest now as unpicked veggies bolt and plants get leggy. There are still veggies to be picked however, tomatoes are lingering beneath heavy branches collapsed onto the earth.

Tomatoes the size of small melons, which make excellent tomato sauce, squirrelled away in the freezer for a winter’s day when we long for the warmth of a summer day. Wrinkled, over-ripe vegetables are piled up, destined for Pablo’s pigs. Once the last vegetable is picked, the huerta will be ploughed into the earth again and so the cycle leading to next summer’s vegetables begins.

5 to remember
en su más sucio – at its messiest
zanquilargo – leggy
arrugado – wrinkled
ser arado – to be ploughed
el ciclo – the cycle

 

‘Your Garden in Spain’ by Clodagh & Dick Handscombe [UK: Santana] 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Overflowing with abundance: the veggie patch in September #secretvalley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-27i

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After the almond harvest

I didn’t know, did you, that the almond nut is actually called a ‘drupe’ which grows from the tree’s fertilised flowers. The drupe has a leathery hull which surrounds the nut, furry, giving it the look of an unripe peach. When this outer husk dries and splits, it is time to harvest the almonds which for us is August.

I remember our first time in Spain, waking up early one August morning to a knocking sound in the distant hills. Mystified, we got out the binoculars and watched two men in an orchard. They were behaving oddly, knocking the trees with long sticks. I now realize that the method for harvesting almonds is similar to that of olives: spread a tarpaulin or net beneath the tree, whack the tree with a stick so the nuts fall.

Harvest here is over for the year, a few drupes still hang on the trees as a reminder that we missed a few.

Try these recipes featuring almonds:-
Hybrid Crumble
A Super Green Salad
Rice Pudding with Almonds

5 to remember
un casco – a hull
correoso – leathery
es tiempo de – it is time to
los binoculares – the binoculars
desconcertado – mystified

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
After the almond #harvest in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-275

Asparagus field… gone to seed

Ever wondered what an asparagus field looks like when the crop is finished? This is it. Fronds of fern-like, feathery leaves, which look more at home in a florist’s vase than in a farmer’s field past its best.

Done right, a farmer should only have to plant an asparagus field once. Once planted, that is the only crop for that field. Which means yield is very important. At least one year must pass before the crop is harvested. The first thing you notice is the spears, poking out of the brown earth like green fingers. Once the crop is finished, the plants will continue growing, up to 3-4ft by summer.

5 to remember
la cosecha – the crop
las frondas – the fronds
plumoso/a – feathery
una floristería – a florist
un jarrón – a vase