Normally, January is one of the months in which the area around Níjar receives a lot of rain, but this year the water falling from the sky was sparse. The temperatures were a little more elevated compared to the average, still we enjoy the installed wood stove in our new meditation room twice a day, during our meditation. The month kicked off with a silent retreat, with two guests in Nijar and many in Amonines and some online participants from home. Andrée and Maria joined the retreat, while Melvin took care of the daily tasks. Off course there was silent help from both residents and the week of silence was a wonderful way to contemplate our life and way of living.
Edwin returned, and we don’t consider him as a guest anymore. He brought Danka with him on his trip to Níjar, so the Monastery as well as the Asharum now have more perfectly fitting curtains and some of us have new clothing 😉 Wabke, who joined the retreat, stayed for the whole month due to the occurring circumstances.
Andrée had quite an accident (literally a slip of the foot) and ended up with two broken wrists and a concussion, so Wabke offered to stay around for a while to help us take care of everything. We are very grateful that this was possible. Without going into too many details, she is recovering well and all are welcome to send her a message directly or through our main channels.
Reina helps out with the cooking now Andrée cannot cook for some weeks. We already enjoyed a good pasta dish and she will cook again in the coming week. Talking about good food; we regularly receive real Moroccan food from our lovely neighbours Mustafa and Rachida and their family. On some delicious Sundays we enjoyed sweets, which we enjoyed altogether on our terrace, and this week they brought us a couscous dish.
The garden of the Asharum Nijar: Back to the Roots
The potatoes were harvested and although we were not sure about our method of planting, the yield proved we didn’t make catastrophic mistakes three months ago. We are enjoying our home-grown potatoes several times a week and we accompany them with broccoli or cauliflower and salad from the garden. The new potato fields are almost done and this time we followed the lead of Human, who gathered some information about different systems and techniques. We are now planting the potatoes in a sunken bed, filled with compost, straw and soil. Less tilling of the soil and hopefully a better quality of soil after the harvest.
We are learning with every planting and harvest how to improve our harvest, for example planting techniques or where to plant what. The climate here is pretty rough and obviously some plants need more specific care than others. Most cruciferous vegetables do pretty well without much effort. As the world keeps spinning in a seemingly inhumane direction, our focus with the garden is shifting slightly from an ecological garden that nourishes the soul and spirit, towards a garden that nourishes our body and mind. In other words, more focus on food production.
The newly planted palms are having a hard time settling in this rough area at 400 meters above sea level, so we reduced their water intake as they are not using much in this state. We hope that with some love and care they will adapt and feel at home soon. Some more local species of trees have been planted, amongst which a Schinus molle, or like they say in Spain; a falsa pimienta. This tree produces the well-known pink pepper corns, which are, as the name suggests, not real pepper corns. Also, a last round of trees is ordered for this year’s planting season, so we hope to plant a Ginko biloba, a pecan tree and a chestnut tree next month. And we are trying to plant some more bushes and ground cover to make the garden greener and moisture-retentive.
More building and improving
The new parking spot and the entrance have been paved with concrete, and it received a finishing touch through a tiled pattern imprint and a reddish layer. Now it looks like it is a tiled driveway and the colour is similar to the colour of the tiles we used on the stairs and in the rooms. We have to wait for one more week (three in total) before we can finally park our cars inside the premises. This will bring some relief to the small parking between the Monastery and the Asharum, which is the only parking for the area.
The big new stairs at the end of the garden are a true piece of art and the big white triangle perfectly blends with the mountainous landscape. The next building projects are already planned and maybe we can show you some progress in the next months.