We have had a huge amount of rain so far in 2020, more than in the whole year 2019 already! The garden is like a jungle – wild climbing cover crops were never meant to get so high, and even though it hadn’t rained for 12 days when I arrived, everything felt fresh and humid.
With that amount of vegetation loads of condensation is captured in the morning – even though the road looked dusty, the urgent issue of watering the garden didn’t feel so urgent. So the soil is benefitting enormously – as planned – part of the regenerative design.
But COVID has affected the human benefit in the garden – I collected over 10 kilos of veg, but there was loads more left behind which will be left for.. the animals? compost? At least we’ll be able to collect the beans as seeds.
Also because noone visited in march or april, the cover crop wasn’t cut back so the veggies underneath didn’t get the sunlight they could have. It was amazing, I was chopping my way through the jungle and I would find chard and small cabbages underneath. Mostly they were small but ok. In some places the cover crop was so dense that nothing underneath survived.
The most incredible thing about this trip is that I spent two days chopping and dropping and planting, wondering how to sort out getting them watered for the next few weeks, deciding whether there would be enough dew from the cover crop and mulch still left… then just as I was finishing, it started raining. 50 litres on the first night, then more rain for two days.
I have spent enough years at Boodaville to know that every rain could be the last rain until September.. and this year is truly amazing. Forces of nature want this forest garden to survive, this is the third time it has rained on these trees at exactly the right moment! Some people say what’s actually happening is that I’m more tuned into the complexity of our ecosystem and in a relaxed state I can access intuitive intelligence to know when to work.
So having thought that the vegetables might survive May, I now know that with sunlight and water they are thriving – I hope Jessica gets there soon to harvest!
and what you all really want… a video!
If I sound tired in the video it’s because I was – this was at 8pm after waking up at 6am in Barcelona and working all day!
Was my trip to Boodaville legal under lockdown?
While it was lovely to get away and really really fantastic to get this work done, it was overall a difficult and anxiety filled adventure. I don’t know whether it was legal or not – because the police didn’t stop me. I think that’s for the best based on our experience with the police yesterday in Barcelona. But that’s another story.
I left Friday morning 7am and the traffic was light but didn’t feel weird. I took the usual route past Martorell on the A2 to save a few euros on tolls, and was incredibly relieved when this meant I joined the motorway just after a proper police checkpoint. I don’t think they were stopping every car at the check-point by the toll booth, but like a drink drive check, they were looking in each car deciding who to stop. I had in the car with me a whole box full of paperwork proving that this was a work related journey – but, of course, this is voluntary work still which counts for — what? in our upside-down economy.
I saw very few police cars on the way there, and arrived to the track to Boodaville without any problems. Although the track was dry from many days without rainfall, the quantity of rain these months meant the bottom of the valley was still a tiny bit muddy. I don’t know what the hell I was doing, but as I drove through the only piece of mud on the whole track I stopped. The puddle was much deeper than I expected, but really, although my thinking was very clear about not stopping in the mud, there was some connection with my body missing. The car wouldn’t move.
I can’t really describe how weird the experience of going to the land was – I’d been thinking about it for weeks, the world is in an un precedented situation, I had no real idea if other people would believe I should be there, plus I am always a bit nervous the first visit after the winter – have there been burglaries, rockfalls, roof collapses, water tank leaks – you never know.
So I was stuck in the mud. I knew I could solve it, and I did within about 6 minutes by putting down some broken cane under the wheel, but starting the two days intense gardening by scratching up my hands on blackberry bushes, and nearly getting my work shoes wet and muddy wasn’t great.
I relaxed a little when I saw all was well, and enjoyed thinking and planning how we will organise the site this year – no events, no volunteers, no crap around, elegant simplicity and functionality. And was obviously loving the result of all the rain.
I needed to buy trees, but was nervous about going out again in the car, imagine if i got stopped and sent home before starting any work. So I planned to work then get the trees Saturday morning, before realising I didn’t have the tool I needed – the giant scissors, nice and sharp, to get in around the trees and delicately chop the cover crop down without getting vegetables or support plants. So actually, I couldn’t do any work before going to the shop. I spoke to them on the phone, they said there was no one around.. so I went for it: 2 nectarine trees, one pear tree and the tool I would spend the next 8 hours using.
By 8pm I had found most of the trees, chopped around them, taken pictures, asked advice, filled up buckets of water for the next day, collected a fair few vegetables. Saturday I planted the three trees before second breakfast which was good, then struggles a bit to get the 6 berry bushes planted. It was getting sunny, and 2 of them were planted by the back wall, in a position I think they will like, but in soil that’s not the easy dig rich texture we’ve been building on the terrace. After lunch I appreciated cloud and planted two more support bushes.. that I dug up from the unkempt COVID wilds of Montjuic in Barcelona!
By the end of the day I was exhausted, but happy that apart from taking even more vegetables I had done everything on the list: the chopping, planting, recording, that was urgent. When it started raining I was incredibly happy. There were storms nearby, and I took a gamble that we would get some real rain, and didn’t water the garden. When I heard from neighbours the next day that 50l had fallen.. wow- joy and relief!
Which left me with just one problem… getting back to Barcelona. I don’t know if you’ve ever got stuck in mud, and done the wheel spinning thing when you try and get out, but it leaves a serious coat of mud on the car. I didn’t feel that driving back with such obvious mud all over the front left of the car, wing mirror and window, was going to help me blend in to other people out legally on the road. I didn’t want to use a public car wash – there was no way I was taking any risks to leave my germs anywhere just in case, plus I had to drive along the highway before I got to a carwash. Then I had the brilliant idea to drive through the ford at Caseres. The river is still very high. There were two men in the square a few hundred metres away who looked round as I drove once, twice a bit faster, and a third time as fast as possible, through the river. Luckily we always carry a bucket and cleaning stuff in the car these days, as I needed to hurl a fair few buckets of water at the car as well before it looked acceptable.
At 7pm on Saturday I headed back, saw loads of police cars, but didn’t get stopped and had the weirdest apocalyptic motorway experience. Near villages the roads were quiet. Between villages there was no one on the road. When I turned on to the motorway I could see just one lorry. There were no cars at all for the first few minutes, just a few lorries. I was very happy when a couple of cars passed on the other side of the road. On the whole motorway journey I think ten or twelve cars passed me, and other than that there was just the occasional lorry or van. The bridges across the motorway, where you never see anyone, were busy with lycra clad walkers and cyclists. When I reached the toll station before Barcelona, across all 40 pay gates there were 4 vehicles. It was very, very odd.
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