Even though Winter is seemingly a passive time in nature, with the countryside apparently dormant, appearances can be deceptive. Mallorcan farmers are rather busy planting their potatoes and tomatoes, pruning their vines or olive trees, sowing their crop of cereals, tending their almond trees and generally preparing the land. And there is the small matter of the harvest of citrus fruit, such as oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit, limes, kumquat and such like. Other plants, as you know, are bursting forward with first buds, early blossoms and new life, yearning for Spring.
The Jewish community, or what little is left of it in Mallorca, is getting ready for Tu Bishvat, one of the four ‘New Years’ mentioned in the Mishnah. January 30th is this year’s date for the ‘New Year of the Trees’. Of course, in the Jewish calendar, a holiday begins at sunset of the previous day, thus, observing Jews will celebrate Tu Bishvat on the sunset of Friday, January 29th, here and elsewhere. Traditionally, trees are planted on this holiday. Customs include eating dried fruits and nuts, especially figs, dates, prunes, raisins, carob, and almonds. In Israel, as in Mallorca, the flowering of the almond tree coincides with Tu Bishvat.
Non-Jewish Mallorcan farmers this year observe January 27th for the planting of pear trees and acacias, January 29th for the planting of oak trees and castanyers (chestnuts), February 18th for the planting of cherry trees and the teix (common yew tree), and March 9th for the planting of codonyers (quince trees). As a general rule, now is the season for tree planting. You can’t really go wrong, as long as you don’t plant palm trees.
The very useful Sa Plaça Calendari Mallorqui 2010 is available from local newsagents for the reasonable outlay of 5 €. It is an almanac for organic farming, including a practical bio-dynamic calendar.
The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 29th, 2009. The time was 15:26:18.