Latest news from the quinta

October 1st, 2014. Post by Wendy

This blog tends to feature often lengthy and mostly fairly detailed descriptions of the work here. Shorter updates, anecdotes, comments, photos, links and more get posted to Facebook. Keep up with us directly on Facebook or via the feed below.

Quinta do Vale

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The mountain road leading to the quinta. ... See MoreSee Less

2 days ago

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Chris McDonald, Sofia Rodrigues and 23 others like this

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Shirley HocklingHow can I find the Quinta on Google Maps or Google Earth? Thanks for an answer.2 days ago
Marion Wilsonwow...2 days ago
Paul LargeLovely.2 days ago
Teresa M. B. McGrathStunning countryside. Tx2 days ago
Manuel DangladeLooks nice2 days ago

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2014's red grape harvest put to secondary fermentation today. A mere 40 litres, but we're lucky to have any at all after this year's cool and damp summer led to the loss of much of the crop to Botrytis. The white grapes were juiced and we made some jeropiga. ... See MoreSee Less

4 days ago

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Kate MacLean, Christine Kowalczyk and 21 others like this

Rica MacinnesApologies- we from Sctoland and Scandanavia, stole your sunshine this year! Have very much appreciated it. Not sure if we will give it back next year.4 days ago   ·  2

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Jerusalem artichokes in flower. ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago

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Christine Gill, Georgia Matache-Johnson and 23 others like this

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Cyril WilsonAlso called Sunroot according to Wikipedia, which also agrees with David Friske with this quote from Gerards Herbal of 1621; "which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men." Nevertheless, they are good eating, perhaps outdoors. lol2 weeks ago   ·  1
David FiskeJerusalem artichokes.Nice eating but give you magnificent farts.2 weeks ago
Jo BruceSeriously? They are lovely! 2 weeks ago
Lionel de NobregaMuitas bonitas.2 weeks ago
Suzann MannBeautiful2 weeks ago

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Up in the mountains which touch the stars - the Serra da Estrela - to find some more slate for the roof. ... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago

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Shirley Hockling, Benjamin Smit and 23 others like this

Sol Nicolajsenlooove it! missing Portugal today <33 weeks ago   ·  2
Lionel de NobregaHow did the search trip go?2 weeks ago
Lionel de NobregaAwesome.2 weeks ago
Teresa M. B. McGrathBeautiful3 weeks ago

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Schist and metal ... just because. ... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago

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Praias Fluviais, Cheryl Saucier-Wilson and 23 others like this

Kate MacLeanlove the colours, and the counterpoint of bent metal v. striated stone.and that interfering frond top left!1 month ago   ·  1
Karina SzilagyiGorgeous!1 month ago
Sol Nicolajsenmmm! yes, like it very much!1 month ago

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Daucus carota, wild carrot or Queen Anne's Lace, is everywhere on the terraces just now. Harvested some of the flowers today to make jelly. ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

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Veronica Balfour Paul, Eunice Lisboa Neves and 17 others like this

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Michelle Alicould you share the jelly recipe please :)2 months ago   ·  1
Lovisa Luise MagnúsdóttirAre you sure this is Queen Anne's Lace? I always thought it had a tiny purple flower in the middle (my way of distinguishing it) and here I don't see it.2 months ago
Quinta do ValeOK. Here's a rough recipe for the jelly. I actually bottled it in too much of a hurry the other evening (it was late ...) and it's a bit too runny so I'll reboil it and maybe adjust the sugar upwards a bit. To make the infusion ... A well-packed 500ml of Queen Anne's Lace flowerheads, snipped off at the base of the florets Generous 1 litre boiling water Add water to florets and let stand until cool. Strain. To make jelly base ... 800g quinces, washed, quartered and chopped (with skins and cores intact) 1 tsp pink peppercorns Tie quince pieces and peppercorns in jelly bag. Put in saucepan and add water to cover. Boil until quinces are soft and water has turned a nice pink colour, adding more water as necessary to keep quinces just covered. Remove jelly bag. This left me with 1 litre of juice. Combine quince juice with Queen Anne's Lace infusion ( = 2 litres) and the juice of 1 lemon. Shave the rind off the lemon and tie in a piece of muslin to cook in the jelly. Add sugar - the standard proportion is an equal volume of sugar to the volume of fruit juice but I like to try and get away with as little sugar as possible, so my initial quantity was 1.6l of sugar. I'm going to add another 150ml sugar and see if it will set up well enough with that. It's good! The flowery flavours of the quince and the Queen Anne's Lace meld very well together and neither really dominates the jelly so the flavour is quite hard to describe. If you can imagine a quince jelly with the almost resinous aroma of the wild carrot added to the taste, that's as close as I can get. It's a beautiful colour too!2 months ago
Karen Redpathi thought this was one of Emotos beautiful ice crystals when i first caught site of it......lovely2 months ago   ·  1
La BaltasaraJelly? :) really? How? And .. can we do a seed exchange mayb? ")2 months ago
Emma McDonaldSend some stems way x2 months ago

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A portable rocket stove

July 2nd, 2014. Post by Wendy

A year or so ago I salvaged a couple of tin cans from the local dump. From the moment I laid eyes on them they were shouting “portable rocket stove!”. They’ve sat around waiting for me to find the time and inclination to put them together ever since, but a friend moving onto a nearby quinta with no cooking facilities finally spurred me into action. In my head, I’d already worked out exactly how the stove was to be made, so it took very little time to assemble. In fact, it all happened so quickly, I didn’t even get any ‘before’ photos.

Making a portable rocket stove out of junk

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We are crowdfunding!

June 18th, 2014. Post by Wendy

This video explains …

And the campaign is hosted here.

The vermicomposting flush toilet completed

June 8th, 2014. Post by Wendy

Last year I wrote about our installation of a vermicompositing flush toilet – a worm composting system for a conventional flush toilet – in the outhouse for the wee house. It was all ready and set to go for a good while, minus the worms, but we couldn’t start using it until we had a water supply to the wee house since there would be nothing to flush with until we did.

With the completion of the quinta’s water storage and distribution system in February, I could at last commission the system.

Outhouse toilet featuring a composting flush toilet

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Waterworks completed

May 1st, 2014. Post by Wendy

Among many other projects on the go simultaneously last summer was the installation of some water storage capacity and supply lines to the various buildings on the quinta. The design and layout gives a good head of gravity-fed water to all parts of the quinta, and provides buffering for the vagaries of daily stream flow in late summer. The two tanks constructed from pre-cast concrete rings were fairly quick to construct. Finishing them proved more of a problem.

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A wood-burning masonry cookstove

April 26th, 2014. Post by Wendy

Ach! Where does the time go? I’m so hopelessly behind with blog posts and there are now so many pending I scarcely know where to start. I just checked the last post I made about the outdoor kitchen for the wee house and it was a year ago!

Alongside the cob bread/pizza oven I built last spring (and which is now producing fabulous food), I also constructed a wood-burning masonry cookstove. I found an open source Sketchup model online and adapted it for Portuguese fire brick dimensions.

Sketchup model for wood burning cook stove

This is the adapted model. Click on the image to download the Sketchup file and open in Sketchup (3D modelling software which is free to download). Firebricks are colour-coded for different lengths. You’ll need to be reasonably proficient with an angle grinder (at the least) to build this stove.

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Timber-framed grey water-processing greenhouse – part 2

February 14th, 2014. Post by Wendy

The last post on this build finished with the laying of the chestnut ring beam which forms the base of this sweet chestnut timber frame construction. The next part was to raise the main supporting structure.

Splitting out braces with a small axe

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Fermented citrus enzyme cleaner

January 30th, 2014. Post by Wendy

A few months ago I was talking to a friend at a local market about making my own washing up liquid and the difficulty in getting the balance just right between cleaning power and general user-friendliness. She mentioned a fermented citrus cleaner she makes and sent me the recipe. It sat in my email inbox for months until I caught a cold in early December and got tore into serious quantities of hot lemon and honey drinks. As the lemon rinds began to pile up in the compost bin, I suddenly remembered the cleaner recipe.

Fermented citrus cleaner in various stages of fermentation

Fermented citrus cleaner in various stages. From left to right, lemon citrus after 6 weeks’ fermentation, orange citrus after one week’s fermentation, and a new bottle being filled with orange peel

The fruit I’ve used is all grown here on the quinta, so is about as natural, organic and fresh as it gets. I made two bottles with the lemon peel from the cold remedies, then after Christmas the oranges started coming ripe so the 5th bottle is now on the go.

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A grey water processing greenhouse for the main building

December 7th, 2013. Post by Wendy

Another of this last summer’s principal projects has been restarting work on the main building. After the salutary lesson of the badly-built balcony and trellis, this time there would be no short cuts. We started taking apart the roof of the balcony back in spring to reuse the roof tiles on the wee house roof extension, and as work continued there on the toilet and battery house, we frequently raided the balcony for pieces of chestnut timber for floor and roof joists and for pine planking. So when it was finally time to demolish the balcony at the end of May, there wasn’t a whole lot left to take down.

Demolishing the remainder of the balcony

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Earthen floor for the bathroom

November 24th, 2013. Post by Wendy

The last major job outstanding on the cob bathroom is now complete. The floor. It’s been a slow process, finishing it off between major renovation works on the other two buildings, but slow progress is still progress.

Cob bathroom with its green roof

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October 12th, 2013. Post by Wendy

It took a year, but finally the copper pot-still or alambique I rescued from the scrap man last year and built a cob ‘stoven’ for is all fired up and producing aguardente.

Alambique or pot still

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