The vegetable garden seems to be in full explosion, the ants appear more chilled out than last year and we have FINALLY had our last visit from Living Containers and I consider myself DONE with them and anything that might have anything to do with them. I cannot really say they did a great job, it’s more like they applied tons of silicone everywhere and replaced the windows that were missing or broken. But I don’t care. THEY ARE GONE. That is all that matters. Next time there is a problem, we fix it ourselves. Also, now that Magnus has finished the roof on top of the house, we might have reduced the risk of filtrations significantly (not totally, mind you, water does move around in funny ways). We cannot end the occasional condensation dripping but that will be more of a problem in the winter and in the shower and what the hell, I’ll worry (or not) about that then. Summer will soon be here and I have decided to stop worrying and start enjoying.
I continue to plant whatever tree, flower or herb I might get my hands on. I have been quite lucky with my seedlings where I had good germination rates of tomatoes, eggplants, all kinds of capsicums, licorice, echinaceae, symphytum, mint, melissa, artichokes, fennel, etc. Otherwise we have been eating beetroot, spinach, lettuce, kale, coliflower, artichoke, peas, carrots, etc. And given the way this place looked like less than a year ago well, I’m super happy. It is a great pleasure to spend less and less money at the grocery store and in addition fresh vegetables straight from the soil do taste way better. Incredibly better.
Since the container house dramas ended I have been working a lot in the garden which resulted in a bit of an expansion and thanks to a collegue from my agroecology group, I did not have to do it by myself and armed with just a spade. Pocho, my friend, came here with his super tractor and had, in less than a day, prepared a significant amount of land for me. Ready to mount into planting beds and plant. Originally it was going to be to get land for the 3 kg of potato “seeds” that I had bought a while ago but since he was here, the weather permitted and we had time left he run it through a few more places. So I ended up with some potato-ready field and extra space that will undoubtedly be used since lack of seeds is never a problem here and loose soil to continue with my tomato transplant.
I have been dedicating a lot of time to the tomatoes. These guys really are high maintenance. The seedlings were transplanted from the trays over to individual pots and are now on the process of being transplanted to their final destination. I have some 51 plants. Have been preparing beds with bamboo supports which fit 8-9 plants. I am done with 2 of those. Just do the maths… Good thing is Pocho has taken care of loosening the soil where the remaining tomato beds will go and I have already asked Magnus for help (cried for it) otherwise I would have been doing this for another month or so. This way, we might even get to taste all of the varieties.
Help has arrived! First in the form of two cyclists starting their South American tour. Friends of friends and now of us too. Fantastic Morritz and Martha who ended up camping in our garden longer than planned. Everything was flowering and they seemed to come with a wave of fresh and positive energy. Restless, young and strong they dug, nailed, covered water pipe lines with dirt, gathered “wild” oranges and tangerines in the forest and actively participated of the family life cooking, talking and even playing with the kids. Thanks to them the roof along the storage container got finished whilst Magnus could advance on the other roof and other things. Super nice to have you here guys and welcome back anytime! Then a bit more than a week ago a friend of Magnus and his girlfriend arrived. They have already helped clear out the area where the house is supposed to be (aprox.) and are planning on building a sauna and a mud oven. And we have more plans for them because they are staying for another month and a half!
Another new thing that happened is that I participated in a bio-construction workshop. The workshop was given by the Zunandi group and held at the Uruguayan permaculture school where it’s head person, Elda Villalba resides as well. The place is extremely beautiful and the people were great. We learned about passive cooling and heating by means of using different proportions in the mud mixtures to make them better at insulating or giving them more thermal mass, putting in ventilation openings in the house and building heat retaining walls (Trombe wall). It was easy and nice to work with such a nice group of people and it was extra cool and motivating to be working in what will be Elda’s house in the future. I did not know her previously but I quickly learned to admire and respect her. She leads a simple, healthy lifestyle with a huge respect for nature and its resources and is a living example of someone who follows its convictions fully. It’s a pleasure to know that my hands and time went into making her walls some centimeters thicker. Working in a group with people with whom you share the same points of view in such a beautifull place is an experience hard to surpass by any other one.
Hopefully we will manage to organize workshops here in Carmelo and bring both Elda and the Zunandies. That would be great!
Next steps are bamboo roof over the wooden deck. This will allow us to sit outside without dying of heat shock and also give a prefect place for some yoga practicing. Then there are a few walls and roofs more (water tank and pump+battery shack+guest/intern house+, +, endless…). Also start preparing the wood that will be the frame of the house and so much more. Never time to get bored.
Seems we are into some positive phase with no more housing dramas and cold and humidity issues are now a faint problem in the future winter. The kids are super happy at school and everything seems to be falling into place. FI-NA-LLY! The last 12 months have been super tough (I think I have said this every single time right? Next time I wont)