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. 

Read More

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

25 Mar

Building a siphon irrigation system

siphon gravity irrigation system

We planted about 30 fruit and nut trees in the fall of 2013. These are young trees from a local nursery. In this part of Portugal, summers get very hot and dry. It may not rain for 4-5 months and temperatures can exceed 40 Celsius on a regular basis. Young fruit and nut trees or berry bushes with shallow root systems probably won’t survive without irrigation. Fortunately there are a number of old stone-lined wells on the land. Most of them are still usable, and full of water. The others will need to be cleaned. This particular irrigation system takes advantage of the varied topography of the land. What we devised is a large siphon. The main garden/orchard is about 15 -18 vertical meters below one of the larger wells on the land, an ideal setup for a siphon. So in March 2014 my friend Alexander and I drove across Europe to bring tools and building material to build this system. Read More