April snow & sandpit solutions ⛄️
The cherry blossoms are raining down on our garden like snow at the moment and things have been very springlike recently yet the weather man is telling us to expect the real thing tonight! And no, this is not an April fools joke.
I shouldn't need to tell you that 1-3 cm of snow in the South of France in April is extremely unusual. When I first arrived in this region six years ago the locals told me it doesn't snow here any more because of global warming. Yeah right! Even as I write these words I can see light snowflakes drifting down, eight hours earlier than scheduled.
If you've been following my blog a long time you will already know that Grand Solar Miniumums extend our winters, making growing seasons shorter & more hampered by extremes. Here is an article I wrote about GSMs in 2019.
Combine this with all the other reasons your food is about to get more expensive and you have the perfect recipe for worldwide famine. So this is the primary reason I am focused these days on understanding how to grow the kind of food which adapts well to our naturally changing climate. And how to protect the kind which doesn't!
A long time ago, before our great past was hidden from us, we used to understand such things. Check out these orchards from the 1600s (during the last major GSM) made possible only with the help of 'fruit walls'.
The walls protect from the elements while retaining the heat of the sun. A simple & effective idea, yet mostly forgotten today. Replaced by vast open fields which are exposed and vulnerable to the temperature extremes we can expect during the coming decades.
From my own experience I can see how our courtyard extends the growing season because our small potted fig tree already has leaves while the ones in our garden don't. And you can be sure we would not be growing bananas if it were not for the great stone walls which surround them.
Over in our garden I am pretty sure all the trees, berries & vegetables can take a little snow, with the exception of the aloe vera which must be covered with blankets. The potted lemons, avocados & bananas are kept in our courtyard till there is no more chance of frost. Which may be some time yet!
Over in our newly acquired garden we appear to have these big piles of sand which the children enjoy playing with.
Needless to say I don't want to throw it away and would much rather up-cycle it in some way.
And so, the idea of a sandpit was born!
Esteban with a local friend here, helping me mark out the area in the grass.
1m x 1m was my best guess for correct size to hold all the sand.
Rather than screw everything together I went first for the quick fix bamboo option.
Some material down on the bottom to prevent plants and moles getting in.
And that's it!
It didn't take long for the shoes to come off.
However, it turned out that I guessed the size wrong as I had a lot of sand left over in the end. So my intention now is to turn it into an octagon with 1m sides. Will get to that once the snow has passed.
Yesterday we figured out our watering system by adding a pipe (with half a water bottle on the end) into the canal to feed water under the path and into our collection bucket which had to be dug into the ground to achieve the right level.
From here we can easily fill up our watering cans. Though in truth the pressure is great and I may be able to connect a garden hose with a nozzle to this.
We have ten of these black buckets in total, holding our back-up water, just in case the canal should for any unexpected reason stop giving us its daily water. Which does sometimes happen in the peak of Summer.
In other news...
I have prepared countless pots of olives now (over 30). Here you can see me eating the ones I prepared a month ago while seasoning my last few pots, while responding to your comments!
The garlic flavour mixes so well with the salted flavour of the olives. Obviously superior to anything you buy in a supermarket. And even better, they were free! All you need is a big bucket and five months of patience ;)
Last weekend we drove to Spain and ate this paella.
Just as expected we can still pass easily along our known route without any sign of boarder control or passport checks. Always good to know such things are possible because we will in the end move south through Spain towards the equator where it won't be so cold even in the depths of a GSM.
Our Spain trip was mostly about shopping (because many things are much cheaper there) but we did also get the chance to walk around this amazing forest with huge boulders. The rocks felt very out of place, like the fossilised organs of ancient fallen giants.
Fifi is still holding on to those babies. Perhaps she is waiting for the full moon to give birth like last time? Here she is sitting outside our (oh so French) home.
Hey, while I have your attention does anyone know of good recipes for dandelion? They are popping up in both our gardens and am aware of their nutritional benefits but find the flavour a bit sour.
Perhaps a smoothie is the best option?
I heard that roasted dandelion root makes a decent coffee alternative.
Let me know your thoughts & experience!
Love & Light everyone 🌱
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