Now that the kitchen grey water tank is up and running it has been planted with some mint and fava beans. It appears to work well as a seed bed as the top layer of soil is kept moist so I (Rasa) tried out tree cabbage and other leafy greens - some to leave and some to later transplant. The wire is for protection but it isn't as effective against snails as against goats.
The fences of the lower garden have been reinforced and several self wicking beds installed. One dug into the ground, one in the old bathtub reclaimed from the grey water tank upgrade and a third in a raised bed. After running out of water last summer these are intended to make more efficient use of less water. The lasagna beds started in June are now going crazy with borage.
To prepare for winter's arrival new double glazed windows were installed in the downstairs living room and have made a big difference as the days become colder.
Outdoor wood was stained and lots of posts added to the driveway to fence off a bigger area for Rex the dog.
Also another compartment was added to the humanure area ready to start a 4th pile.
August was construction month. Local builders came in to upgrade the downstairs kitchen and build a second grey water tank.
The main work in the kitchen was to demolish two walls, insulate, rebuild and tile. Frances did a great job repainting the walls, thank you!
The second and smaller grey water tank is connected to both the upstairs and downstairs kitchens, so now all the water in the house is reused. It is split into two sections. The first to catch bits of food and oils in the straw, then the water is sent through a layer of sand, gravel and rocks, before entering the bigger tank where it is filtered through soil, then more sand, gravel and rocks.
With temperatures soaring and the grey water tank drying up, there wasn't much happening in the garden. Fingers were crossed that plants would survive and attention was focused on upgrading the outdoor solar shower and finishing the new wood shed.
Rasa raced the sun in the early morning to dig holes for support posts for the bamboo walls. The surrounding ground was flattened and cleared of bind weed and rocks to create a lovely cactus and succulent garden.
Kris sharpened up her woodworking skills doing all the prep work for the roof. We then put two visiting friends to use and got the roof up.
As a nice long spring finally turns into summer, we are receiving some delicious fruit from the courgettes planted in the Hugelkulture.
A training watermelon to grow up a trellis experiment is working out lovely, with so far 2 melons tucked nicely into their hammocks and growing at an astonishing pace.
Shade for Rex the dog's pen has been completed, and after Flor the goat helped herself to the onions and sunflowers, another gate has been added. Behind this gate 'lasagne beds' have been started - layering green and brown organic materials for planting more veggies.
Lots of chard has been planted around terracotta pots in a shady part of the garden and are doing well there, in spite of the late June heat.
A storm filled the grey water tank to the brim, drowning all the mint, tarragon and tomatoes which were growing quite happily. The top layer has now been cleaned of these dead plants and replanted with the more water loving plants from the old bath tub grey water system and the mint is making a come back.
Rex's shaded area has been completed too.
The grey water planter is recovering well.
The lettuces are loving the shade.
Here is the start of a new planting bed.
Naughty Flor our goat ate all my onions so we needed to fence off the lower planting terrace.
The watermelons are well cared for.
From the 11th April Kris, Rasa and Kainoa have joined us at Xalet Pigall. Kris will be managing the rental of the apartment and will be your key rental contact from now on. These lovely people have agreed to house-sit while we move to Switzerland as part of Barry's new job promotion. We are all looking forward to continue to move the Xalet Pigall project forward while we embrace the new Swiss adventure!
We've started in the lower terrace, digging three big holes and back filling with manure compost and soil. Eventually we would like to have fruit and nut trees dotted all over our land.
Barry is always busy at the weekend, he's been doing a lot of work with the chainsaw. Yesterday he replaced the bolt on the main gates.
We've started off lots of seeds in pots, as it's still quite chilly, and many of them are now in a mini greenhouse.
We continue to build our stock of useful perennial plants with comfrey crowns; great for fertiliser.
We've completed the new planting area, though I do plan to increase the size of the hugelkultur bed. Asparagus and garlic have already gone in.
We have to think seriously about the risk of forest fire, living where we do. Our home is surrounded by woodland and scrub and halfway up a forested mountainside. We have researched the topic and are busy thinning out the woodland on the most vulnerable, village-facing boundary of our property. We have had professional help felling three large pines that were too close to the house.
Barry is working very hard each weekend to fell the young pines around the boundary. The rest of us helping out at times too.
We hope that we never experience a forest fire, but we need nevertheless to prepare for one so that damage to our home would be less likely.
Frances and Barry Copping bought Xalet Pigall in 2015. They are working towards resilience and self-sufficiency.