09 September 2014

The caterpillar kill

We have recently learned that a caterpillar is wreaking havoc with box trees and hedges all over UK and Europe.

"Box tree caterpillars are the larvae of a moth that feeds on box (Buxus) plants. It is native to East Asia but it became established in Europe in 2007. Although adult moths were first found in the UK in light traps in 2008, it was not until 2011 that larvae were reported in private gardens. By the end of 2013...the caterpillars had caused severe defoliation indicating that the moth is likely to become a serious problem" (https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/Profile?pid=760).

Unfortunately this caterpillar has now found its way into our valley. Our neighbour has two box trees that are over 150 years old and we have a 50 year old one and a hedge of 20 young plants.

We hate using any pesticides and I have been known to squash bugs one by one rather than use poisons. But after seeing the drastic damage to box trees in our area and doing some research with local nurseries, it seems that we have no choice with this bug.

So this week Stu treated the infestation with the recommended insecticide and we now have our fingers crossed...

Above: One of our young hedge trees infested with the caterpillar

Above: Dressed to kill

Above: Trying to save our little hedge


08 September 2014

Shiny things in our kitchen

Yesterday I spent a very relaxing half hour polishing our copper.

I have never had copper before and I have certainly never had to polish it.

Hanging copper items in the kitchen of an old rustic stone house is somehow "right" so lately I've been collecting a few pieces at antique fairs.

I have a pizza tray, a small mould and a small jug, all of which I knew to be copper.

I also have an old milk can that had been left in the house by the previous owner. I have always assumed that it was a cheap ornament...until I watched my cloth slowly uncover its shiny pink beauty...


03 September 2014

Organising our rubbish

We have gone through our rubbish. Again.

Ever since we purchased this place, we've been finding and sorting rubbish. Country properties in Italy are notorious for keeping things or burying things. We've found both forms here.

Every time we find rubbish we store it in the fienile for the day when we can get rid of it.

But we've found that our rubbish collection isn't necessarily rubbish...

Whenever we need something, our first point of call is our rubbish. We've often found that a crucial item or an alternative solution can be found in the rubbish!

So now we have created a "staged exit strategy" for our rubbish.

Initially, items deemed to be "rubbish" are put in the fienile. A few weeks later, some of these items are given a second chance as something else. Within another few weeks, the rubbish pile has reduced considerably as items are reused. Some examples are pieces of rusted steel which are reused as reinforcing in concrete, containers that are reused as paint pots, broomsticks that are reused as handles for other tools.

After applying the strategy to the rubbish several times, it seems that we now have 2 rubbish piles: the "rubbish with potential" and the "rubbish with absolutely no potential"...

Above: The "rubbish with potential"

Above: The "rubbish with absolutely no potential"