Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My first WWOOF - La Huerta Organica de Blanca Rosa

The view from the garden of Piliquitron in the Andes
The vegetable garden, with recycled glass bottle borders
Following a 22 hour bus trip to Bariloche and then to El Bolson and then a taxi ride, I finally arrived at La Huerta Organica de Blanca Rosa (The vegetable garden of Blanca Rosa). It is beautiful here. When working in the garden I have a view of the Andes and El Bolson in the valley below. Blanca operates a Permacultura Urbana here. For example, last week I planted lettuce between garlic, because lettuce is a good companion for garlic. Also permaculture followers believe that recycled glass bottles attract heat to the soil through light, and therefore they make excellent borders for plant beds. So naturally these appear everywhere in Blanca's Huerta. She also follows Biodynamic gardening principles which is basically planting by the moon. It is based on the fact that the moon and water have a connection through gravity. It therefore makes sense that plants would also be affected as they depend on water. This means that some days are good for planting lettuce but not for harvesting fruits, for example. It is not difficult to follow if you have a calendar and has been tested to give good results. A strange thing here, is that we are asked to water the plants at the hottest time of the day to ´cool the plants down´, the opposite of Britain (and America apparently) where it is important to water at the coolest times to conserve water. We drink water here directly from the mountains, so perhaps the abundance of water means they are not so worried about conservation here.


Above: Me and Evie and our masterpiece
Below: A close up view

Blanca collects old and broken tiles to use to make new floors in her house and her new houses (more on that later) so this week me and Evie ( An American WWOOFer from Colorado) have been making many mosaics for Blanca´s conservatory. This requires lots of patience but has been very rewarding. I would quite like to do this in my bathroom when I finally get one! As an aside, Evie also knows a lot about barefoot running because it is very common in the states and Colorado is the location of the Leadville 100 ( If you have read Born to Run by Chris Mcdougall, you will understand the significance of this). In Colorado it is apparently very common to see lots of people barefoot running, so I would fit right in. She has also met Lance Armstrong (!!) at the Leadville 100 which she did on her mountain bike.

Back to Blanca - since she found her house 3 years ago, with the help of family and many WWOOFers she has transformed her house. What began as a single storey concrete block structure, has become a 2 storey timber structure with wattle and daub (various different mixes to provide different levels of smoothness) and a green roof. When I am asleep I can hear grasshoppers above me. All the floors are made of the recycled tile mosaic - each section has a story about the different nationalities of WWOOFer who made it. The house always feels warm even though outside in the mornings, it is freezing.

Blanca Rosa´s house

La Casita
Behind Blanca´s house is ´La Casita´ (small house) where Blanca really went for it with the wattle and daub and also cob (cob is cob in Spanish). Again a timber structure filled in with various forms of cob or wattle and daub, recycled tile floor and a green roof.

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