The 'horta' that you oughta know

Horta is the Portuguese word for a vegetable garden (coming from the latin, hortus, also meaning garden). In England, Simon and I struggled to keep a pot plant alive, but with more time on our hands, with some fantastically rich soil by the river , and with the regular help of our friend Nuno Alvez, we have created a little paradise. The horta began when we cleared the land and built a single raised bed using stones from the river and clay from the land to hold them together. Our first few crops were courgettes, beetroot, peas and basic herbs, and we were over the moon! We then build more beds in a pattern designed by Nuno, which gave varying degrees of sun and shade to the plants within. In winter and spring the horta has plenty of rain and in summer we set up a sprinkler system that pumps water from the river. Before we had set this up we were watering by hand: filling up watering can after watering can from the river soon became pretty tiresome, and the sprinklers have saved us lots of time - and saved our socks from getting wet!


The horta has been so generous to us, in veggies, herbs and flowers, and for weeks at a time we hardly needed to do any food shopping (well, maybe the odd bit of booze!). This year, we have grown almost a whole alphabet of fresh produce - please feel free to suggest how we can fill in the gaps next year!


Aubergine

Beetroot, beans

Coriander, chilli, cucumber, courgette

Dahlias

Endives

Fennel

Gherkins (from the cucumbers - cheating slightly!)

H...

I...

J...

K...

Lemongrass, lemon balm

Melon

N...

Onions

Peas, parsley, peppers

Quince (actually, we pinched this from a nearby tree, but close enough)

Rhubarb, radish

Sorrel, sweet peas, strawberries

Thyme, tomatoes

U...

V...

Watermelons

X (?!?)...

Y...

Z...