Monday: I’ve been working on getting my orto (vegetable garden) sorted out, following the lands many years as a wilderness. With the eventual sorting out by, Seppe of the carnage that the previous builder and his digger driving friend Toto left behind I now have a fenced off little patch to grow my veggies in. It’s about an fifth of the size of my old allotment back in the UK, but as I wont need to have greenhouses in Italy, I’m sure I can cope with less space. That said I will have a much longer growing season, and also have to adapt to what will and will not grow over here.
I have a small portion of wall dividing my orto from the land owned by my neighbour, so my first job has been to set up a walled-bed and a path, in this bed I shall start they year off with my broad (fava) beans and they’re already getting off to a good start; three sowings have taken place, five weeks apart for, hopefully a nice amount of beans during the harvesting season. Also beans add a good deal of nitrogen to the soil so they’ll be helping to condition the earth for the following year.
I planted a dozen garlic around the raised salad bed I built a few weeks ago and they’ve now pushed through and are growing well, taking advantage of the early sun we’ve been having. My orto is south-west facing and after the sunrise gets the early morning sunshine and as that golden orb moves across the sky it gets the heat in the afternoon but none of the direct sunlight, which will be ideal for water conservation and tomatoes and chillies that can split in direct sunlight.
Tuesday: I had meant to go and cut some canes from the bamboo that’s growing down from the orto today, but I think mother nature is having ‘that, time of the month. The month being February. The wind is whipping the bamboo and the dry canes sound like witchdoctors rattling bones as they curse the elements. February is a windy month here, some say its the sirocco; which I know they get across the Po plains up north. I’m not sure we get it so far down here, but as I don’t know I couldn’t say for sure. What I can say is they’re jolly blustery and I fear for the roof tiles. I’ve just spent an half hour collecting plant pots, dog toys and various other items that have been picked up by the wind and deposited elsewhere.
Wednesday: Today the wind has dropped, so as Time Bomb by Jamie Tracy plays on the iPod, I start to build a fire on the land at the side of the house. I love a good fire, as my friends on Facebook can verify as there’s always a photo of me with some bonfire throughout the year. My neighbour Domenico has pruned the two olive trees he owns next to my house and has stacked the trimmings neatly. I asked if he wanted them and he said no, so I thought I’d tidy up and burn them. Now I have never burned olive before, but as others around are burning their pruned branches I know the green wood burns… Oh boy does it burn, it goes up like someone has thrown petrol onto the flames. What is normally a gentle campfire becomes an inferno with the addition of olive wood. The smoke is noxious. black, choking stuff which surprises me, you’d expect it to smell nice like pine does when it burns. I guess the tree’s natural oils must be like throwing cooking oil onto a fire.
O.H. hands me a glass of fizz and the iPod shuffles and Toni Basil starts to sing, Time After Time as the latest addition of wood crackles, and sparks dance like malevolent imps in the evening air.