This morning I have been out in my huerta doing gardening jobs. I have planted out seedlings of onions, broad beans and escarole. Runner beans have had supports and string put up for them to climb. Furrows have been tidied up to stop the irrigation water wandering off in the wrong direction. Grapes and dates have been picked. And I have started sowing garlics which will slowly grow over the winter and be ready to harvest in April or May.
But all is not well.
It is an unseasonable 23 degrees centigrade in the shade at mid-day. Those of you reading this while looking out at northern drizzle and cloud will think how lucky we are here to have such glorious weather. I am not gloating. In fact I am going to behave like a typical farmer and have a moan.
Illustrated above is the main object of my discontent. Cultivating in a hot climate means that our vegetables grow big fast, so we tend to have big bugs, the beautiful creature above is the size of my little finger, but if the cold weather does not come and kill them off, then they become mega bugs in mega numbers. So no potatoes or brassicas this year.
Public enemy number 2 is the Mediterranean Fruit Fly. Anyone who drinks wine will have met this fellow in their glass at some point. In an ideal cool autumn clementines and oranges will not start to ripen until just before Christmas by which time the fruit flies will have been decimated by the cold. In a warm autumn like this one, the citrus are already ripening and being eaten from the inside by the happy and warm flies.
To be fair the warmth is encouraging other crops to gallop along. The beetroot and turnips are making nice fat roots, as is the Florence fennel. I am inundated with red peppers, the basil lettuce is still going strong, the gleaming aubergines continue. All the endives are huge but a bit fierce in flavour, but that should calm down if the weather eventually cools.
And we have been getting the most spectacular sunsets……