Saturday, December 17, 2016

GREEN! Solstice winter 2016

Winter solstice.  It's been, and is, so warm, it's strange to say Winter.   Wet too! I love it, spit in the eye to the smart-alec climate forecasters who told us here in Portugal that we were in for a drought winter.  For sure, the arctic is melting pretty fast and changes are under way, but as for the weather, it's a classic chaotic system and no supercomputers can possibly know what's coming up. 

We've some old friends Jenny and sons Onyx and Charlie, visiting from "dear old Blighty" (that's old-style reference to UK plc) who we have not seen for 4 years here,  Here they are on one of the early blogs, early 2013....







.... and here they are now, with Megan, and 3 year-old Charlie, who didn't even exist then!...




Yes, the Blog is 4 years old this new year, and though not exactly "viral" it has a good steady audience.  See, blogs come and go, but the Várzea Blog is here to stay!

To give a photo-record of the development in this project was the prime motivation of starting the Blog.  Also a personal feedback, reminding me of what has worked, what didn't, and who contributed to the evolution which continues. A cool example is the "high-beds" area, here in 2008,....



.... and now, from about the same location....


In this small area there are 15 different varieties of trees, and in another 4 years, and they will be producing!

Right here, right now, Erik and Daniel are doing great work on the "final" section of the cleared part of Várzea's hillsides to be swaled, a long project which should be finished this year.


Not just digging, but then hauling up a ton or so of rotting straw and horse manure from our horse-owning friends....







.... then the swales are filled to make life-preserving microclimates for the summer dry...

Regular Blog readers will be familiar with the procedure - we wait until next autumn and plant acorns and seedlings, as well as grasses and field-beans for nitrogen-fixing, in this year's swales, which by then will have some humus developed for water and nutrient summer survival-pack.





So here am I planting on some of last year's diggings....





...only a percentage make it to be oak trees, but each year we put new acorns in the unsuccessful spots, and so on, until we have a nascient forest. As I said once before, just add time - which, by the way, is on our side....


Swales have been a big feature of the winter work for the last 4 years, and by the end of this winter, pretty-much all the 2 hectares or so of cleared hillside land will have been given the treatment - all by hand with trusty enxada.  

This archetypal Portuguese tool, which, is its various shapes, is used for just about everything related to the ground and is a great tool. This is my big favourite style for the heavy clay soils (modelled here by Chaym) (its great for gardening too)....

All this work is not for monetary profit, I assure you.  It is for future generations of humans, birds, and the whole spectrum of life, to thrive. as part of a rich and diverse ecosystem.

You get what you give.  

Have FUN this solstice, christmas, new year, with love from Várzea da Gonçala....

ps  If you like the Blog, please feel free to post a link. Muito Obrigado for reading anyway.....

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