Well it’s already looking like Spring here with tiny wildflowers appearing in the grass, primulas peeking through the dead leaves covering the ground of the woodland and blossom covering the almond trees. The Winter has been ‘brutto’ which, this year, means there’s not been a prolonged cold snap and we’ve only had a couple of days of heavy rain. Whereas last year, we had a ‘brutto’ Winter because there was a lot of heavy rain and quite a lot of flooding – basically the Italians moan about the weather just as much as the English!
But the signs of Spring are already occupying my mind as far as the house is concerned. Many of the gardens we pass on our daily tripping around, whether large or small, already have the soil turned over in their ‘orti’ (vegetable patches) and our next door neighbour at the campsite is currently busy barrowing ‘mature’ manure, courtesy of her pony, from the top of the hill to cover her large vegetable patch in front of her house. As you can see from my photo, I am a little bit behind as I only have three plants in pots … a lemon tree, some rosemary and some oregano … so we’re not quite on the self-sufficient path at the moment! I have added to this bounty with a quick visit to the local market this week where I bought more herbs – basil, sage, thyme and mint – but I need to turn my attention to the serious subject of preparing my ‘orto’.
We know exactly where we are going to put it as we have a large, flat field just a short walk through the garden from the kitchen – it’s where we’ve built our compost bins and installed our ‘serbatoio’ (a large water tank to collect rain water). The plan is to dig out a good-sized square of grass, dig it over by hand and get at least some peppers and tomatoes in as soon as possible. The markets will soon be full of seedlings so if I don’t get chance to start my own plants, I can cheat a little this year, but I don’t want to miss out on the pleasure of growing and eating our own vegetables now that we’ve finally got a house. We do have to address a small wildlife issue though and construct a secure fence around whatever we are growing. The ‘cinghiale’ (wild boar) will root around the ground and destroy the plants in their way if they get chance, so a small fence will be sufficient to keep them out, but the main concern is the ‘capriole’ (deer). They not only eat the plants but are able to jump fences with ease and, with one side of the planned ‘orto’ being flanked by a raised banking, we’re going to have to be extra vigilant along here to keep them out. Basically at the moment I’m offering them a platform from which to launch themselves into my vegetables … a springboard into a swimming pool of ‘capriole’ heaven, so we need to be looking at building something around 6 – 8 feet high to keep them from enjoying our vegetables before we do!