The spice of life

The spice of life


It’s the end of September, and it should be feeling like the end of the summer, but we have returned from our annual holiday to hot, sunny days with temperatures over 30C. The mornings are certainly indicative of the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness but come mid-morning it’s back to the heat and the flies.

Autumn chores are calling nevertheless: leaves need to be raked up, beds dug over and composted, and logs cut up for snuggly winter evenings ahead. Richard has dug up and divided the irises and the rosemary, lavender and santolina have had a trim.

There are four main harvests this time of the year. Just as we were leaving for our Andalucian adventures the figs were plumping up nicely, both green and purple they are soft and honey sweet. There were plenty enough left though on our return to make fig and sesame seed jam plus some fig chutney (with green toms from the garden and scrumped apples from local orchards).


This year a change from the cinnamon and ginger spice route, this time it’s cardamom and coriander seeds. I love cardamom. Earlier in the year I came across a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe for plum and cardamom ice-cream never dreaming anything would taste as nice as vanilla but it is divine. We often have it in our morning coffee (cardamom not ice-cream), a reminder of our Jordan days.

sep7Also included of course some of our chillies. They have done really well again this year. The coriander seeds are easy ‘to grow’ too, our plants readily turn to seed. I shall see if it’s possible to grow cardamom here 🙂

Meanwhile the walnuts, harvest number 2, have been plentiful this year. It’s both relaxing and frustrating shelling them, I spent half an hour sitting in the sun getting walnuts for some home made bread and managed to get 50g! Richard has since had a good bash at them, luckily they’ll keep for ages.

Next up is the quince harvest, quince jelly is probably my favourite – quince and cardamom, perhaps?

Finally, after a non-existent harvest last year, we are hoping to have lots of olives. There are certainly plenty on the trees but not as fat and as juicy as we’d like but that’s not surprising after the soaring summer temperatures and one of the worst droughts the country has seen. Cardamom flavoured olive oil?

6 thoughts on “The spice of life

  1. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm – all sounds lovely – you lucky things still 30 degrees! I am a committed cardamom fan – have a good recipe for a cardamom cake

  2. Never tried cardamom, I know it is very commun in other countries! And, best news RAIN is back to Portugal!!
    Have a nice week!

  3. Yes, hurrah for the rain! It’s all going green again – Richard will have to get the strimmer out soon 🙂 Have a nice week too.

  4. I stumbled on this page while looking for information on how to grow the Naked Man orchid. (I bought a bulb via the internet. It arrived postmarked Portugal, in a cigarette pack, with no instructions.) Everything I read suggests it grows like a weed in its native environment. I live in Chicago, Illinois, USA so will likely put it in a pot. Can anyone tell me what kind of soil, how deep to plant, how wet to keep it, etc? I would appreciate it.

  5. I think in general orchids are very hard to grow because they grow symbiotically with a special type of fungi at least at some stage of their lifecycle. Having said that I am certainly no expert and I’m sure people do grow them. Regarding soil, they definitely prefer stoney alkaline soil with good drainage. They come up all over the place near here in spring (April/May) and then disappear for the rest of the year. In winter it’s fairly wet, with the occasional frost but it can get very hot and dry in the summer.

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