We are well into another Maltese summer, with daytime temperatures regularly in the low 30’s. Spring seems like a lifetime away and it hasn’t rained since I don’t know when. The fields have that parched, burnt out look to them and the only green to be seen are from those tough plant survivors – Prickly Pear, Carob, Olives, Fennel, Pomegranate, Naspli (loquat), Plum and Almond trees along with shrubs like Wolfbane and Tamarisk.
The wild asparagus are also still putting in an appearance round our plot and the surrounding fields are full of fennel. (there’s a nice blog post about this important nectar- rich plant and food source for Maltese Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars here)
On our own plot, we have no direct supply of water, so we harvested and then cooked/bottled/froze the earlier “glut crops” such as broad beans, courgettes, garlic, purple climbing french beans and lots of tomatoes – some of which are safely in the freezer in sauce form. Our salted lemons and capers are rather nice and go very well with locally produced peppered sheep cheese or home-made ratatouille.
It’s probably best to view the summer here as our “winter” with little to sow or grow in such tough conditions. It still seems strange to see straw and hay bales appearing in neighbouring fields at the beginning (rather than the end) of summer. Plants here need regular watering, shade and also protection from the intense sun and strong northerly / southerly winds. Despite our use of spring water and grey water it’s very difficult to keep things going without a lot of early morning or late evening watering stints. I am focusing my efforts on looking after the newly planted fruit trees and vines and so far, they seem to be coping reasonably well with the hot conditions. [Read more…]