Friday, April 18, 2014

Fruit of the Month: Loquats

the underrated loquat, eriobotrya japonica

It is hard to find loquats at the greengrocer in the English-speaking world, but in Italy in early spring you will see these small, oval, thin-skinned, apricot-coloured fruits even in supermarkets. They are native to China, were naturalized in Japan and have been cultivated in the West for quite some time.
Here they are called nespole, the tree a nespolo.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Weeding Shakespeare

The Bard in the Yard 

Most subject is the fattest soil to weeds
2 Henry IV 4.4.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mulch marvellous mulch

 Celebrate the Chip!

home-made wood chip mulch

After much discussion, research and attempts to find a solution, including the inevitable delays, 
Le Ripe now finds itself 
Rich in Mulch.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Subterranean Siena

A walk beneath Siena to explore its medieval waterworks

In a hilltop town which lacks a natural spring, where does the water in that fountain come from?

Walking around Siena one happens on a variety of medieval wells. Yet Siena is not naturally rich in water: it is a hilltop settlement and situated far from the great rivers of Tuscany. Until World War I the city relied on a water supply system constructed in the Middle Ages: 25 kilometres of channels and side-channels, an underground aqueduct winding under the entire city. They are called the bottini, a name perhaps related to the barrel shape of the passages, botte being barrel.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Garmugia: soup from Lucca

A reviving early spring soup

fava beans, artichokes, peas and asparagus, amongst others

The origins are unclear but this soup is certainly found only in the environs of Lucca and it is clearly a dish to be cooked and eaten in early spring when the fava beans and peas are at their most tender. The origin of the name garmugia (rhymes with Perugia) may be germiglio or sprout since the vegetables are all the first of the season.