orWine Tastings in the Comfort of you own villa or B&B while on holiday in Tuscany or Liguria

To book an informative and fun wine tasting whilst holidaying in Italy or arrange for a wild food walk in your area contact me on tuscanytipple at libero dot it or check out my Facebook page

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Saturday, 15 December 2012

Another Book Review

This is just a quick update about another very kind review I have received from a fellow blogger, from the Wildcraft Diva over at the Wildcraft Vita.  She blogs about foraging and life in the countryside in Italy on the other side of the Appenines from us.  Do pop over and have a look here.  I know it might be a bit late for your Christmas shopping, but I believe there are still people out there who haven't bought my book yet!  :)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Forest Garden is Taking Shape

This sunny if cold weekend we have spent planting trees and shrubs for the forest garden.  Partially they were gifts for my birthday, some I brought back from Bulgaria from the Permaship project and a couple I just bought here in the last days.  Let me introduce you to the new members of the crew from top to bottom:

This is Raffaela the hibiscus (after the person who gave the plant to me for my birthday):

She was planted in the bed Ben made in the summer just beside the road.  Did you know that you can eat the flowers and leaves of hibiscus?

Next to Raffaela we planted... now I can't for the life of me remember who gave me this shrub, will the donor please come forward... so for the time being this is Myrtle, the myrtle shrub:

This produces excellent aromatic edible berries and leaves.  Great for making liqueurs.

Just below the caravan we planted a tiny Oregon Grape called Cat, after our first helpXer, who came from Oregon.  She is getting married soon too, so best wishes to you!

We planted another small one of those below the pond.  They are shade tolerant shrubs producing edible blue berries.

A few terraces down we planted Declan, the Decana Inverno pear tree:

This is a late ripening pear.  After I lost one of my 3 pear trees to the landslides, which damaged a second tree, which has now succumbed to illness, I've been meaning to replace them.  The other remaining pear tree is a very early variety.

Another two terraces down we planted Ronaldo the Portogallo fig tree, named after Portuguese footballer and probably most famous living Portuguese person Ronaldo:

Having also lost a fig tree in the same landslides two years ago, I wanted to replace it with a purple fruiting one, which is so much sweeter.

The main planting area was near the bottom of our land, where we already had two bay trees growing happily:

The centre piece here is Jenny, the Rotello apple tree (again after one of the donors of this tree)

Rotello is a local apple variety, relatively late ripening with a squat shape (the apple that is, not the tree) and sweet and sharp flavour.

This is Heike, the maidenhair or Gingko Biloba tree (also named after the donor, my friend Heike who came to see us all the way from Germany)

Maidenhair trees are not only decorative but they produce edible nuts and the leaves are also edible and have medicinal uses.  The only problem is you need a male and female, and whilst this one has a female name now, I have no idea what actual sex it is.  So must find it a partner once I do find out.

Not pictured are Yukako the Japanese quince tree (after my good friend Yukako in Kyoto), Conny the cornelian cherry, and a baby autumn olive, for which I haven't thought of name for yet.

On a slightly different matter, I have a habit of picking up seeds of various trees and then putting them in some pot to see what happens.  Sometimes I don't know what the tree is in the first place and I always forget what I put into the pots even if I did know.  Often of course those seeds don't show at all, but this one here did and I don't know what it is.  Anyone got any ideas?  It looks very pretty:

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

of Giving and Sharing and a Mad Road Trip

 From the photo above you can already guess that this isn't my usual kind of post about my garden or about wild food foraging or even Italy, and the last 3 weeks were anything but the usual.  Above you see the Thermal Baths of Sofia, Bulgaria.  But let me begin at the beginning...

Just over 2 weeks ago I celebrated my 50th birthday.  Yes it's official now: I'm an old man!  To lessen the pain I invited all my friends near and far to come and have a party with me and get senselessly trashed.  At this point I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to everybody who turned up and those who couldn't, but sent best wishes.  

Thank you all for your presence, warmth and love.

Thank your gifts of trees and plants (the forest garden is taking shape, more on the next post).

Thank you for your music, especially to the Tullamores playing Irish music and Litio all the way from Scagnello in Piemonte

 Thank you Bart for preparing a fantastic meal for the multitudes

Thank you to the best neighbours in the world for a great birthday cake

Thank you to my mother for having me, supporting me throughout my life and coming to my special event all the way from Germany at the age of almost 80!

Thank you to the people of Ponzano Superiore for excepting me / us as part of their community even if they probably think of us as slightly eccentric.

...and thank you to my friend Vasko for taking me on a mad road trip to his homeland of Bulgaria, more of which below...

...and not making me eat tripe soup...

...and also a thank you to Magi...

..and Elena...

...who showed me their respective home towns of Sofia and Plovdiv.

More thanks are due, and apologies for anyone I have left out.  I feel privileged to be loved by so many and I'll forever be in your debt.

Sorry about that slightly soppy interlude, what about that Bulgarian adventure I hear you ask.  Well, it's the stuff road movies are made out of.  Me and Vasko spent 10 days traveling around Bulgaria visiting wineries big...

and small...

...discussing Bulgarian history from the rebellion against the Turkish Yolk...

...to the Communists pointing guns at their own town hall...

...seeing ugly housing estates...

rich agricultural land...

...quaint hillside villages...

...and what might just become our next permaculture project...

I'll keep you posted on that one... :)