Monthly Archives: March 2014

March 24th: Lunar gardening

The fence is almost done! I’ve just got to finish some final joins and strengthening (in case of particularly persevering animals!) and then it’s complete! Chicken-proof! Deer-proof! Cinghiale-proof! Too optimistic?! Never.

In my haste to get the fences up I may have missed the PERFECT week to plant the potatoes. Well, assuming I am still attempting to plant by the moon… Never heard of it? Nor had I. Planting by the moon has been a long standing way of farming for many hundreds of years. The Italians being the Italians, following their favourite motto of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” have for the most part preserved this way of producing food. (Arguably there could be better mottoes when it comes to the running of political parties but no one’s complaining about their tomatoes!) 

The basic premise is that the moon affects plant life and you should use it’s powers to enhance your gardening. At it’s mildest, lunar gardening encourages you to plant things that grow underground (root veg etc) when the moon is waning and those which grow above ground when the moon is waxing. At it’s most extreme it details that there are 14 fruitful days a month according to the signs of the zodiac and nothing should be planted on a Sunday because it is deemed a barren day, too hot- the Sun’s day.

My sceptical (and forgiving) side is willing to believe that I haven’t missed the moment for potato planting. But, with Italy being known for it’s food and the surrounding farmers all taking planting by the moon quite seriously I am making it my priority to get digging!

March 21st: The Cinghiale returns

Since Spring seems to be springing I have been spending a lot more time outside sorting out the land for the summer growing season. We have an olive grove, a vineyard and a vegetable patch that continues to grow in size; we have our work cut out!

The olives are in the final phase of being pruned and prior to the next downpour they will be fed. The main priorities at the moment seem to be linked to fending off animals. I’m trying to get the fence up around the vines as quickly as possible, before the dreaded deer and cinghiale arrive. As you may remember from my 12th July blog they are not my favourite friends…to put it lightly. They are the plague of the area… to put it accurately. The deer whilst to look at are beautiful, eat everything that you don’t want them to eat and leave the rest. On the other hand the cinghiale, a tad less beautiful, appear to serve no purpose for me apart from at dinner time. They were re-introduced to improve hunting in the area but reproduce faster than we can shoot them. The growing wolf population may help although they seem to prefer to pilfer a few lambs instead of having to tackle a stroppy and protective cinghiale sow.

Anyway the fences are about halfway done. Meanwhile, whilst the cinghiale ravage any root in their way the chickens seem intent on ruining the strawberry patch. Or indeed anything green and growing. I don’t want to have to cage off everything! Not only because I believe there are better things to do (like watch my black and white teams lose…again)! But one thing is clear this week, deer 1, cinghiale 1, chickens 1, British expat nil. Where’s the “black and white” shirt?

March 14th: Waterfall walk

It finally feels like Spring is gearing up. Flowers, birds, sunshine, people are looking less grumpy! I am planning on getting outside this weekend… definitely…. not watching the football… honest.

While I was looking for a good walk I came across this website which has loads of walks and local tips. I think I’m going to follow their High on the Magra walk as a guideline. I have walked around here a lot but have only made it up to these waterfalls once before (and on a bad choice of days- misty followed by rain!). The walk takes you through the village of Pracchiola, through chestnut woods, and “… along the upper reaches of the Magra to a gentle and dramatic waterfall.” The website  says that the walk isn’t too difficult but then they mention rock climbing and not bringing small children with us. Wish me luck!

Monday 3rd March: Massa Carnival

I’m really enjoying carnival and making the most of it especially as we don’t celebrate it at all in the UK (other than a few pancakes!) Massa seems to provide the best celebration around here, filling the squares and outdoor areas of the city with fun particularly aimed at children and young people. I went on Sunday it was great and silly, with lots of music, dancing and costumes; as carnival should be.

Oh, and, as I’m sure you assumed our olive oil didn’t win any prizes in Filattiera! We did meet some proper olive aficionados’ though!