Sunday, December 13, 2015

Winter Solstice 2015

Fast and easy-reading, plenty of pictures and not so many ponderous words.  Good idea, think the geese....


First here's a picture of one of our thousand-or-so medronho (Arbutus unido) bushes (trees when they grow bigger) on Várzea's hillsides. The pinky-white flowers, which will become next year's fruit, are out at the same time as the ripening berries.  These are fermented and distilled as the Algarve's (mostly clandestine) speciality, aguardente de medronho.



The theme for this blog is the food-forest, or, I should say, future food-forest, as it will take 5 to 10 years to look anything resembling a forest.

Exciting stuff - this winter we are putting in place an irrigation scheme, which I had as an idea for the last year or two, and like things happen sometimes, once an idea is turned into reality, it opens up a whole new vista of potentialities.

With Chaym here, these can increasingly be manifested. It is a great thing to be able to collaborate with ideas of land development, and many new plants and trees from his native Israel can positively contribute to the plans, and to the diversity.  And I must mention the great help recently from the beautiful Erica, from Italy, in digging compost holes and planting fava-beans, which are now popping up all along the water channels (didn't get a photo, sorry!)

Here are some of the features, with accompanying pictures....

First there are 3 shallow ponds, which can easily be filled in less than half an hour by our 50cm tube running from 400 metres up the river - an all-summer continuous supply. Here is Megan demonstrating the filling process (and behind, you can see two of the new irrigation channels snakeing away)



Up to now there was only drip-irrigation for the fruit and nut trees in this area, which, while taking water deep, fails to hydrate most of the top-soil in the 3 or 4 months of summer without any rain.

Now here, on a sluice-gate system, water passes down the winding channels - 8 so far - to hydrate a wide area, on a regular basis.  Here is one of the channels running...

But that is not all - oh no, that is not all....
In amongst the water channels are 20 or so compost holes - filled and refilled with manure and straw from the local stables, which can also be irrigated from the canals.

Next, trees and bushes (new, more!), as well as beans and pumpkins in the spring, are planted close to the channels and around the holes.  Many leguminous nitrogen fixers, both annual and perennial, the star of these being the lab-lab beans whose seeds Chaym brought this spring.  These amazing beans grow through the winter, are frost-tolerant, and carry on for years, potentially growing tens of metres per plant, and giving abundant nutritious beans . while feeding the soil too!  Also nitrogen-fixing trees, such as mesquite and gouveiea, and the amazingly nutritious moringa.

Here's an over-view from up the hill...


Not just food-forest.... our old Bus, home for years for chickens, then wwoofers and friends, had to go, so with no other options, Jim (in foreground), with some help, broke it up, mostly by axe, and we carried the engine and sections away, towed with the roof as a sledge!  Just the engine compartment to go here...


Finally, an old favourite - a look at the pretty green swales on the hill (more in other areas this year too).  There are about 400 acorns in this section, out of about 700 new in the ground...
....oops,  I just realised that we had a picture of these swales on the last blog.   

So instead here's an amazing photo of Enceladus, one of Saturns smaller moons, taken recently by the Cassini probe which has been orbiting Saturn for 10 years.  The "volcanoes" are liquid water coming through a 40km thick ice layer, from an ocean of water 10km deep.  This amazing probe cruised through the plumes to find, also, organic molecules and silicates, building materials for life.....


People often think dolphins are the most intelligent things on earth, or whales, or (rather weirdly) humans.  Pretty anthropocentric.  How about a mature oak?  It depends on what you mean by intelligence, Fully equipped with molecular antennae, tuned with precision to the infinite information that pervades the space around us.  Maybe "wisdom" is a better word.   .... Just a random thought from a treeophile....

Happy solstice to all blog readers - which seem to be mostly from Russia this month...  And to our friends Geir and Regina in the mid-day dark of northern Norway.

 'Tis a many-wonderful world.

1 comment:

  1. An inspirational blog. Thank you for taking the time to update it. We are planning a move to Portugal this spring with the intention of doing exactly what you are doing so successfully here. It is wonderful to see the transformation of the land and as importantly the people.

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