Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Longest Spring since 2013....

First, apologies to all blog-followers for the slowness to publish this one - I got STUCK! Busy in all areas but bogged down in the blog!!

All is calm at Várzea after a much peopled and active month or so.  It's been good focussing again on the doing of positive things rather than the people stuff.

From 17th to 27th April we had our PDC - that's permaculture design course for those not familiar.  The Várzea's 10th, and probably the best one yet - 18 participants from 10 different nationalities, ages from 20, to 80-year old Ani Dolma, a buddhist nun now in Scotland.  A wonderfully positive couple of weeks, the course led brilliantly by Peter Cow and Mirka for their second spring course together.  Here are a few nice pics to try to give a feel of the time....  first, Ani , an inspiration, and a font of wisdom....


On the "village green"...


 ... and off  in "Carina", on the day off...


Our Natural Building course didn't happen, which was a disappointment for a while but a lot of positives happened as a result of its cancellation and if I am honest, after the full-on activity of the PDC and the work needed for preparation in the three days in-between, I was relieved.  The roundhouse WILL come to pass in its time, and its construction will play its part in the next phase in the making.

This has been a season of new understanding of where the Várzea is going.  The evolution is taking new forms, coalescing. And at the end of this month old friends return, bringing energy change and wholly positive ideas. So more on this next blog.

Meanwhile, on a very positive note, Anthony and Katie, with 4-year old Ellie, have decided to stay on here for the summer, and are in the process of making a simple summer-house to live in....


They are wonderful people with easy-going generous natures - I'm honoured that they want to share the Várzea for this time.  Megan's very happy too to have Ella still here when she's back in a couple of weeks.

Lots of activity in the garden, with apart from the spring plantings, a whole re-design of the big garden has begun, with the classic "permaculture" raised bed system being adapted to a system much better suited to the long dry Algarve summers.   The beds, when a particular seasonal vegetable has finished, are being reduced in height and widened, and dug out with two trenches (6 by 6 inches) filled with well-rotted horse manure/straw mix, with the new plants planted in-between, then all well-mulched with straw. It's a system well-demonstrated by neighbour Dan: the trenches are then watered and the moisture retained for l-o-n-g time, feeding the planting zones in-between and on either side. This also encourages the soil life - from earthworms to fungi and bacteria - to flourish and perform their alchemy.

Hilda's last daughter has six littluns...


Who's Hilda?  Well she's in hen heaven now, but she was our cleverest (and most independent)


ever hen, who died of old age after mothering most of our present hens, and being the sole survivor of both our hen-massacres of past years (she's also rumoured to be the "Little Red Hen" of the popular childrens' story).



 Here is an archive photo of Hilda up in her perch in the cork oak by the top house....

Spring  became dry early this year, but a great day of rain - about 3cm last week - has given the new trees a good start - as well as making mini-woodland areas of oaks, walnuts and fig trees from the little seedlings born this year. I am putting many of these in the "badlands" areas where, in the days when the river banks were untended, floods ripped out big areas of topsoil.  But then, trees can cure everything that is bad in the world.

What else...?  Adding features to the play area, getting the chess pieces ready, sanded and stained - ears on the knights, and making new pieces for the ones used as firewood (growl...)   The geese are getting cranky! - but give them a nice cool shower with the hose-pipe and they're happy as Larry, whoever he was...



Jade (remember, from last year's blogging?) sent me, received yesterday, about 150 seeds of the Manila tamarind, Pithecellobium dulce, fresh from India. Now in pots and I wait with great antipication. Thank you Jade, you're a star in heaven!

Finally, some snail-art from Monte Clérigo beach, to end this overdue blog....


Interesting times ahead - see you in June.....


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