Category: Attempting Self Sufficiency


Whatever the future holds for the farm at Semilla Besada, situated high above Lanjaron in the Alpujarras region of Andalucia, it will always be known to us as “David and Aspen’s place”. Aspen Edge We remember well our trips to visit David and Aspen. From the outset we were made to feel at home. Aspen’s warm, freshly baked buns washed down with strong coffee is a potent combination.
Everybody hard at work in the “Campo” planting crops at the moment. Emma, Kiersten and Jorge have been busy all day. We have had some recent nocturnal visits from jabali (wild boar), presumably interested too! Trying to figure out a way to keep the crops protected? Cabbage planting Young potato plants
Tomato mix reducing down So we have more tomatoes than we know what to do with. Weve eaten them with most meals for the last month, made gallons of Tomato Frito (Puree) and still have left overs. Those remaining are getting very soft and ripe. We need to do something quick! Making ones own derivative to Heinz Tomato Sauce is the answer. We have just made a batch from one of the best recipes Ive seen so far.
millet-drying-andalucia We were given some millet seeds some time ago by David and Aspen of Semilla Besada. Not really knowing what we were doing we did the sensible thing, shoved them in a free part of the “campo” and made sure they were regularly watered. Now in the space of a few months they have grown strong and healthy. We have harvested them today as they are showing some signs of bird attack.
Bugger! You spend the whole spring sorting water out for the vegetables, religiously caring for their every needs. Then the summer comes around and we have 6ft high sweetcorn plants festooned with corn ears. Mmmm, I can see them now, roasting gently on the barbie! However, along comes this little “thing” (I used much stronger language actually, but am aware I’m “public” on the internet) and gets stuck into his daily eating with vigour.
Do you remember the old days when a onion sellers from France or Spain cycled through the UK carrying onions and wearing berets? Do they still do that or have Tesco’s put them out of business as well? Anyway, I had a go at stringing onions, of which a wealth of information is found on the internet. All of this was far too complex so I just knotted them together anyway I could.
Friends David and Aspen Edge at Semilla Besada above Lanjaron, have always argued that, one day, due to the high cost of fuel, tourists will stop coming here, food prices will rocket and there will be petrol shortages. A big argument to get started on the road to self sufficiency? Well, it seems to have started! This week the spanish, along with the rest of Europe it seems, have been on strike over high fuel prices.
“In the world we must live in from now on, to produce our own food is the beginning of independence and to accept that responsibility is to take the first step towards real freedom” _Gene Logsden ( Small Scale Grain Growing) Ok, we may not be the best veggie growers around but we are learning quick! “Call that a carrot!”. Even the dog turns his nose up! Some onions though are more acceptable.
It’s that time of year again. The waters from the snowmelt of the high Sierra Nevada are flowing strongly. Soon this will end, and from mid-June to October or November we can expect little irrigation water. So the time is ripe for all good “camposinos” (country workers) to water their lands before the summer droughts Now this may seem a great idea at first glance, but putting it into practice is not as easy as it would seem.
Now that the last of the winter clients has departed attention has turned back to the land. The age-old problem of keeping the weeds at bay has returned, and we have to somehow cope with thick undergrowth some 2ft high on some terraces. The two horses, Gimly and Jack, have helped, and we rotate them on different terraces each day. They are selective eaters however and although undoubtedly helping they miss the worst bits near the edges.
Had a visit from Dave and Aspen from up the mountain yesterday. They are “professionals” in self-sufficiency, energy and water management and trees. Aspen took one look at our beautifully manicured terraces and said “Isn’t it tidy?” She then proceded to tell us that by getting rid of all the weeds we had destabalised the terraces, that would get washed away when it rained. Also, the soil would deteriorate and nutrients would disappear.
Didn’t realise how much I’d taken on until last week when Antonio (the original owner of the cortijo and my neighbour) indicated to me that the weeds and grasses were now over 2 ft high on my terraces. With disapproving Gaelic shrugs he walked off. Well, yesterday I decided to show him how committed to the land I was, so I went out and bought a motorised strimmer. After finally figuring out how to make the damn thing work, I set about avidly chopping down all in sight (except the trees of course!