Contadina's Blog

Living the contadini life among the olive groves

Coming up smelling of daisies April 13, 2011

Filed under: bees,Garden — contadina @ 12:18 pm

A very quick, blink and you’ll miss it blog, as I’ve been preoccupied with deadlines and the joys of spring.


It's a jungle out there

As you can see, the garden has come alive and resembles a jungle. It’s really reassuring to see so many new varieties of weeds pop up and in greater numbers each year, as it’s a good sign that life is retuning to our soil.

It’s not all this wild, but we like to leave large patches like this for the bees and it seems to be working as you can hear a continual mumbling and buzzing sound down there. Sadly none have been tempted to try out our empty hive as yet, but the swarm season has only just started here.

The veggie patch is coming on well – we’ve planted salad tomatoes, french beans, courgettes, spinach, rocket, chard and quite a few herbs.  The peas and beans are podding away nicely, so we’ll hopefully be eating them sometime soon, while the spunta potatoes we planted back in February are looking seriously healthy. I’m hoping for a good yield from this drought-tolerant, Italian variety, which is gaining popularity in warmer climates around the globe as it produces large potatoes and is a good all rounder. We’ll hopefully get the rest of the tomatoes, peppers, chillies, aubergines, sweetcorn and squash planted before a forecasted downpour at the weekend.

For the past couple of weeks we’ve had some glorious weather, it reached 32.C at the weekend, so some rain will be most welcome. We’ve a 100,000-litre cistern and high temperatures tend to turn the water a bit whiffy. Other than empty and cleaning systems every year, remedies for improving the smell include lowering lime rock into cisterns (we did this once but were unimpressed with the resulting harsh water) and putting different sterilising liquids down it of varying strengths (from Amuchina, which is a bit like Miltons to bog-standard bleach). Now although we don’t drink the cistern water, we do wash ourselves, our clothes and dishes in it as well as water our garden with it, so there is no way we are going down that route.

Macchia Meditteraneo or Mastic tree

So, I was really excited to hear recently that there is a plant you can use to get rid of nasty niffs. It’s called Pistacia Lentiscus (Macchia Meditteraneo or Mastic tree) so called because when chewed it can sweeten the breath. Not expecting much, we stuffed a hessian sack full of the stuff with a couple of rocks and lowered it into the cistern. Within 12 hours the smell had completely gone and we didn’t have to resort to using either lime or chemicals. Thank you Mother Nature.

It’s makes quite an attractive border bush too, and grows near walls so I’m quite thankful to the birds who have decided to spread the love around our garden 😉 … 0lentiscus

Just for good measure, and because I had my camera out in the garden this week, you can enjoy a picture of my favourite blossom 🙂


The rose-like buds of the quince tree



2 Responses to “Coming up smelling of daisies”

  1. Mike Says:

    Very pretty pictures, I love the wild beauty of the first one. What you learned about the Mastic tree is pretty amazing, and yes, it never ceases to surprise what nature can provide if we look hard enough. Sounds like your vegetable gardens are doing great…I’m off to look up more information on that spunta potato you are growing.:)

    • contadina Says:

      Thanks Mike. I’m quite excited about the spunta spuds as our choice is usually unnamed pink or white potatoes 🙂 Reading a Tasmanian blog it seems they make perfect chips (that’ll be fries to you) as they are long and large but they are equally good as a salad potato.

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