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Blog | Heart and Soil | Bringing an old portuguese farm back to life
20 Aug

Pistachio love

Pistachio Tree planting

As one of the oldest flowering nut trees, humans have eaten pistachio nuts for at least 8,000 years. That pistachios and other nuts are a healthy addition to any diet is probably not widely disputed, and some quick research suggests that they are a good source of protein, fiber, magnesium, thiamin, and phosphorus, as well as vitamin B6, copper, and manganese. Apparently, “The Pistachio Principle” suggests that we tend to eat fewer of these nuts because of the extra effort involved in breaking their shells open, thus not gorging ourselves as we might with shelled nuts. 

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10 Aug

Brush and bramble clearing

Brush and bramble burning

Tidying your land is much like tidying your flat. Feels good to clean up, get rid of stuff you don’t need, and see what you’ve got.

Clearing years of brush and brambles that have taken over much of the land is hard work, but is also very satisfying, because you see so much progress in just a day, and features of the land are gradually revealed. Also, the strimmer is a wonderful machine. If you have ever cleared brush without one, and then picked one up, you will know what I mean, and wonder how you ever thought to clear brush without one. It is indispensable to have a steel blade spinning at 10000 RPM as an extension of your arms.

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11 Sep

Citrus x 8

citrus in berlin

Berlin has an amazing botanical garden and greenhouse. Its well worth a visit. Twice a year there is a huge plant sale. Nurseries from all over Germany sell everything from herbs to bulbs to trees. We picked up 8 baby citruses that will be planted this fall. Right now they are chilling on my balcony in Berlin, dreaming of sandy portuguese loam.

Here are the varieties we found, all of which will be planted on a couple of large terraces that already have mature citrus on it, mostly different orange varieties. Read More

15 Aug

Cleaning old agricultural wells

agricultural well in portugal

There are a number of old stone-lined agricultural wells on this land. They were probably dug between 100-200 years ago, it’s hard to say exactly when, and it depends on who you ask. Suffice to say, they are marvels of creation. The amount of work that went into their construction must have been immense. The dry stone walls that support the sides down to the bedrock are impressive. They were often also dug well into the bedrock, as we discovered when we started cleaning some of them. Read More

30 Apr

Building a solar pump irrigation system

solar pump irrigation

A part of this land had been terraced decades ago, perhaps even more than a century. The terraces have mature citrus trees, some olives, figs and many grapevines. Three wells are located on these terraces including one large well next to which we installed this irrigation system.


To build an autonomous, solar-powered irrigation system that pumps water from an old agricultural well and delivers it to young citrus trees and grapevines on a terrace several meters above the well. The mature citrus in this area is different kinds of oranges, so we planted lemon, lime, tangerine and grapefruit. Read More