On and Off

Île de Ré and Back [Part 3]: Sunday 20 August 2017

23:09

Camping
On the coast
Sky is beautiful
Sounds are beautiful

Moods are tetchy.

We’ve noticed, accurately or not, that the wind on this coast veers between two extremes: complete calm and gusty-muthafuck. Tranquility in the morning. Gusty-muthafuck from about sundown (until we-don’t-know-when).

We’ve decided to camp here.

The tent’s swelling in and out like it’s on an overamped ventilator. The noises from outside are impudent thieves belligerently flicking off Finkel and Einhorn’s covers, secure in the knowledge they’re more than enough for our flagging wills.

And we’re tetchy.

Not being able to get a good night’s sleep should help.

In this game, you have to be understanding at all times – and we are fine – but sometimes: one of you will want to go on; one of you may want to stop; one of you will have overlooked something; one of you will absent-mindedly break something.

Sometimes, shit happens.

Which is great for sensitising yourself to the foibles of others while synergetically becoming sensitive to your own – and accepting them all as part and parcel of it all.

We had a couple of incidences today. We rolled over the first, as you do, as just a symptom of two souls who had not had coffee yet. And we were more than ready to acknowledge and apologise when we were the ones at fault at further incidences along the way.

Which is great.

And this evening’s sourness while putting up the tent was probably nothing, too, but coming on top of the further adjusting to the realities of keeping these wheels rolling, could we be approaching times when the shine starts coming off and the negatives speak more loudly?

Now we are doing this
and discovering how we feel within it.
We still speak, act, move in the same way.
We both speak, act, move in our own ways.
How long will they remain?

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Oh, I don’t know. It’s just been an on-and-off day today. Sadly, it seems like much of the off is going to continue through the night, powered by this coastal wind.

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Winter Garden

Here in south-west Poland, we hear our neighbours ask: “What is it that you’re still growing in your garden now – in Winter?”. It’s something which we hadn’t given too much thought, in all honesty: it’s just another positive effect and outcome of last year’s No-Dig Gardening Project 2019 and crop rotation. We couldn’t be happier: picking vegetables from the garden in Winter – as we have been doing since last Summer – is such a satisfying and rewarding experience 😄

This Winter has been a particularly mild one, though, which has made it easier for us to keep the plants outdoors; fleece-protection being sufficient for those requiring it on the rare occasions when the temperature has dropped below zero. We don’t, as yet, have a greenhouse, polytunnel, or any cold frames, all of which make it much easier to grow vegetables during cold seasons – so everything that has survived and continues to thrive has done so out in the open air 💪 😀

November 2019
November 2019

The vegetables we’ve been growing this Winter are: cavolo nero (Lacinato kale), kale (brassica oleracea), beetroot, spinach, rucola, celeriac, carrots, parsley, parsnips, and garlic (though this is just sitting and waiting for Spring). When a frosty night is forecast, we cover with a fleece: the celeriac, parsnip, spinach, and rucola. The dormant garlic was permanently covered till mid-February.

Cavolo nero, kale, beetroots, and carrots, being quite hardy, have remained uncovered throughout and are loving their time with the elements 😄 In fact, the carrots taste even sweeter now than in November. We’ve been making sure that their roots – and those of the celeriac and beets, too – don’t stick out above the ground and have covered them with more soil, creating mini-mounds. The kales, particularly, seem to quite like the cold and are still very much producing.

February 2020
February 2020

We haven’t had to buy any: carrots, parsnips, celeriac, beetroots, parsley, kale, spinach, rucola, potatoes, cayenne peppers, dill, tomatoes (jarred following their final harvest of the season), or jam since last Summer – and we very much like it this way 😁

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We’re planning to give our next Winter garden a proper think through this year, and grow more vegetables like kale or leafy greens, which end up in almost everything we eat or cook. So yes, all being well, more fresh vegetables next Winter and even more Summer fruits preserved 🤞👩‍🌾💚👨‍🌾

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DIY Composter, Windbreaker and Recycling

February is a very important time to get things ready before March-sowing begins. The weather is unpredictable and can be rarely favourable, so you have to try and take advantage when it is – we tried 😄

The first thing we wanted to add was a wind breaker on the east fence (this time last year, we put one on the west fence and it has worked beautifully well: protecting us, the young fruit trees, and all the vegetables from some violent gale force winds). Before doing so, it took us some time to remove any unwanted perennials from near the fence – and, boy, did they have some powerful and resilient root systems. We then trimmed the neighbour’s hedge back, where it was poking through, to prevent it from making holes in the wind breaker (and to hopefully train it to grow a little more away from from the fence to try and avoid too much future damage). Also, on this east side, we’re planning to remove the concrete slabs, which used to serve as a path there, in order to increase the amount of land and space available. For now, the slabs will be stored somewhere temporarily until another use can be found for them. In the land and space that will be freed up as a result, we’re going to distribute some organic matter and plant some annual plants/flowers to bring the microorganisms back to life 🙂

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Pruning the apple trees was next, which left us with a lot of branches and twigs. Agnieszka’s Dad 🙂 chopped the small ones for us, and we cut the bigger ones. In the end, we had a lot of wood to give back to the Earth:

  1. Small twigs are being placed around the edges of two perennial areas, and between different crops, as markers, as we start sowing and planting outdoors.
  2. The bigger branches we dug into the soil on the western edge of the garden beds.
  3. We stuck small twigs into the raised strawberry beds to prevent cats from using them as their toilet 😉
  4. The smallest and thinnest twigs that were left over were used to cover the cardboard on the path between the beds

4448ECEC-72C3-4B5C-9876-9F68B96A49D0All this wood will help maintain moisture-levels in the soil during drier days, as well as starting slowly to decompose – feeding the soil and its microorganisms.

The third and most urgent job was turning five pallets that had been kindly donated to us into a working composter. When we have more pallets available to us, it will become the first chamber of a three-chamber-composter. In his younger days, Geoff was a carpenter and joiner, so it seemed like revision for a mini-test for him. I mainly followed his instructions and tried not to destroy anything or hurt anyone 😁 The final result exceeded our expectations 😁 We can’t wait for more pallets and more ventures into the DiY that accompanies it 😁

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The container we bought last year has been emptied of the partially decomposed content which we have been adding to since October 2019. Now, it has been moved into the new composter, the process of transferring providing some beneficial aeration, where it can rest and undergo further decomposition. 

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The green store-bought composter can now serve as a first chamber (the one topped up and added to on a regular basis): and our latest homemade creation is now a  second ‘resting’ chamber.

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To finish off, we have a couple of photos showing the spot where we distributed our home-made compost in October 2019.  As you can see from the most recent picture: the texture hasn’t changed, no weeds have grown since, even the colour hasn’t changed – and it’s ever so soft and not at all compact. We’re definitely hooked on making a lot more compost 😊

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So, here we are: more or less prepared for March, with the garden beds mulched and ready to welcome Spring vegetation, hoping to make a lot of good soil/compost, and begin another wonderful season 😃

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