The big lizard visits Jan near the caravan.

May 2023

It was spontaneously after my departure that I had the idea of talking a little about the situation at Flores de Vida.
With one exception so far, I’ve been coming to Nat’ every year since 2012, around the beginning of May, and for a few weeks I’ve enjoyed this special place and contributed a little to its continuity and beautification.

This time, due to other projects on my part, I’ve only stayed for a month, so I’ll be missing not only the first figs of the year, but also the big crop of apricots and plums that has just begun in earnest.

The food

The large strawberry
The large strawberry patch
Unfortunately, strawberries and cherries were not as abundant this year. The strawberry plants are in good condition, but the few fruits have not really ripened.

Some of the cherry trees at Flores de Vida bore fruit for the first time this year, and the older ones too, but the birds are always far too quick and empty the trees before the fruits are fully ripe. At our friend Javier’s farm, where we used to fill up our boxes and ourselves several times a season with the best cherries we knew, there was hardly any fruit this year. It was just enough for a meal and a snack ; )

On the other hand, the goji bushes surprised us. Not only did they bear fruit for the first time, but they also produced a lot of fleshy fruit, so we both ate more fresh goji than ever before. It was just the two of us the whole time.

The three large mulberry trees also had an equally intense time. There was also an apricot tree that produced an abundance of ripe, delicious fruit, well ahead of all the others.

The loquat trees in the field produced a lot of fruit this year, with small variations in taste, juiciness and crunchiness between them. We did fill the crates once outside, but it wasn’t necessary for us, given the quantity that is now present at Flores de Vida.

Works

The vegetable garden
The vegetable garden
As far as the work was concerned, I devoted myself to the streamer, as is almost always the case at this time of year. As usual, the land was overgrown everywhere and looked very wild and abundant. I processed a tankful every day and spent an hour cutting the tall grass.

As a result, not only did the small trees reappear, but the vegetable garden also became recognisable. In many places, I also weeded by hand and Nat harvested the beans.

The sage bed
The sage bed
In addition, I created new plots by laying clear borders with stones. I also buried some of the irrigation pipes to protect them from heat and damage.

Nat’ also took advantage of the welcoming state to resow various vegetables.

I also continued to mulch the trees and surrounded some of them with a thick layer of straw (this is to make it easier for a hot summer to pass, as more moisture is retained in the soil).

The reed curtain
The reed curtain
At the beginning of my stay, we had already planted a new reed line. We sawed off some living stems, cut them into several short pieces, planted them side by side in a ditch filled with light soil and fitted them with drippers. Experience shows that, over time, they form new roots from the nodes in the soil and new leaves from those exposed to the air.

As a result, a wall of visual protection will grow there, and a private space for a caravan will be found behind it.

The caravan and its new roof
The caravan and its new roof

Towards the end of my stay, the two of us renovated the roof of the oldest caravan and the roof of one of the two oldest dry toilet sheds. We first removed the old wooden or cane and canvas construction, then reinforced and repaired the structure, coated it with a mixture of diesel and linseed oil and screwed corrugated iron sheets onto it. Finally, they were covered with a layer of cane.

Admittedly, there were more intermediate stages than expected, especially for the caravan, but there were no major complications or difficulties. We’ve finished building the toilets. The caravan also has a new roof, and all that’s missing now is about two-thirds of the cane cover.

It’s very practical to be able to harvest cane directly at Flores de Vida and not have to go and get it outside, load it laboriously onto the roof of the van and bring it back.

The weather

This project with the roofs was delayed by numerous windy days. There were also regular forecasts of rain, which unfortunately only turned into brief showers. On the whole, it wasn’t as hot as I’m used to at this time of year. Most of the time, it was more pleasant to spend the day in long clothes, but with the change of month (early June), short clothes were finally in order.

The fleet of vehicles ; )

Nat’ refurbished the finca’s vehicles. The van and large trailer each needed a new wheel, and he installed solar panels on the tractor so the battery wouldn’t run down during long periods of downtime, but it also needed changing. After sharpening the blades of the gyro-shredder, he mowed the terraces again, further enhancing the sense of space and openness I’d already started to create.

Plantations

The orchard
The orchard
Globally, trees continue to grow. Most exotic plants are unable to do this, or do so very slowly and with great difficulty. We have to find special areas where the microclimate allows them to survive the cold winters and hot summers.

Some trees, fortunately few in number, which were previously healthy and adapted to the climate, have suddenly withered away for no apparent reason. But many of them are still thriving.

Overall, the vegetation is on the increase. Even the surrounding slopes in the hills were still very green at the beginning of June.

Some of the trees showed obvious damage to the trunks, the cause of which we could only guess at. Because of the same orientation, we deduced that the sun’s rays were too strong in the evenings and so we covered the affected areas. We attached old clothes and pieces of cloth with clothes pegs to protect them from the sun.

Other wounds were more consistent with wild boar and roe deer. They apparently rub against the young trunks so hard that it damages the bark. Or they nibble them. Fortunately, only a few trees were affected.

Animals

Frogs and a multitude of birds can be heard all the time. The orioles are very shy, but their bright yellow plumage makes them stand out.

At night, a toad can be seen sitting on the path.

There are also wild boar footprints and, in some places, excavated straw mulch. Fortunately, they don’t touch the vegetable garden. It’s worth noting that there are no fences or wire fencing anywhere in the grounds, and not even in the vegetable garden, but everything’s fine.

The snakes and lizards sun themselves in the hot spots, but disappear as soon as we approach.

Mosquitoes and flies, even the little ones that bite (the mosca negra), were barely noticeable this May.

One night, I very probably saw a genet briefly. In the darkness, I heard a clatter on a plate I had left outside with some leftover loquats and, when I shone out with my headlamp, I saw first just two eyes, then briefly a spotted animal with a bushy tail running away quickly. It’s the first time I’ve seen one here.

Online projects

As well as taking care of the place on a daily basis, Nat’ spent the month creating his new online programme and enjoyes his birthday. : )

 

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