- Niek Pepels
During the Corsican 'winter', weather conditions were ideal to work outside and do some hard work! In contrast to the Netherlands, I have experienced only a handful of rain/snow days so I could work outside virtually all days. This blog gives an overview of the different things that I, with the help of friends, neighbours and my brothers, have done. (Note: because of the time-consuming nature of blog-writing, I only provide a broad overview of the different activities done. Many other smaller yet interesting-to-share works will be shared later in other blogs).
January was cleaning month; around one half of the land was 'wilderness' consisting of brambles, brambles and more brambles... 0h and some ferns. Armed with pruning shears, I attacked the wilderness and sacrificed a lot of gloves (at least 6 pairs) and part of my hands; most gloves lasted only one day before they got torn by the brambles and my hands took the hits of the bramble thorns. It was actually quite a meditative activity; you have to be concentrated and move around calmly in order to avoid additional damage ;).
February was a very productive month in large thanks to the help of my brothers who came over from the Netherlands. The most important thing to do was to make a fence to keep the wild boar, pigs, cows and goats out. Campile being part of Castagniccia, it is normal that these animals stroll around streets and unfenced gardens, creating a big mess. We bought 5 huge rolls of wild boar-proof mesh (each >40 kg) and 150 fence posts. As the garden is 200 m from the closest road, it took Kos and me around 3 hours I believe to bring all the fence posts down to the garden (thank god it was down slope not up). Then, in just three full work days, we managed to set up the entire fence (230 m length), something I had considered completely impossible before.
The above picture shows the part of the garden that was a bramble wilderness before cleaning started. End of February, it is fenced and terraced (right side of the picture you see a small new terrace). Moreover you see a lot of fence posts looking like a mess; this part of the garden will be the tomato garden so to the fence posts I will attach wires to support the tomatoes.
We (... well all credits to Stan and Kos) made two gates with the help of this modern era (youtube video).
The brand new gate. In the previous picture you can see it in full glory in the garden (in the upper left corner).
Last but not least, I started eggplants, sweet peppers and tomatoes indoors in my 'growing room' that I made using storage shelves and LED lamps.
March was centered around the creation of vegetable garden plots. In total, I will manage 4 no-dig vegetable garden plots (around 350 m2). To make the, I had to lay down 13 cm of compost. This meant of course that I had to move around a lot of compost... luckily I got help from my neighbour who could rent a bobcat for free. It took the bobcat around 6 hours to transport 54 m3 of compost that was placed next to the road 200 m from the garden. Imagine bringing that down with a wheelbarrow! The bobcat put the compost in the center of the garden but it was up to me (with my wheelbarrow) to move it to its final place, so in the end I have moved 54 m3 by hand and I won't do it again!
Below you see some pictures of different no-dig vegetable garden plots I created.
In the picture above you see the biggest vegetable plot I created. The big tree trunk you see I used to compact the compost (though compaction in general is bad, it is needed to create structure after adding the compost. Plants need this and do not like too fluffy soil.
The above picture shows a finished no-dig vegetable plot; wood chips are added between the different beds (of 75 cm wide) and are used as pathways.
The above picture shows the totality of my land. The bramble wilderness in front of the picture is my neighbour's land. The right half of my land looked like this beginning of January. On this picture you see three vegetable plots and on the left side of the field (that looks like a grass field), a large diversity of trees and shrubs have been planted as this part is the food forest.
In between the compost activities, I got a two big pallets of young fruit trees and shrubs delivered. I planted them according to the syntropic agriculture design detailed on this website under food forest. A blog post on the food forest will follow shortly.