Nature Talks Series – Monkey Year and a Living Fence

Hello ladies and gentlemen! Or how the Dutch would say it, hallo dames and heren! I am learning a little bit jeje. I learned this phrase from the train announcer but I am also learning Duolingo style! I think Dutch is a mixture of German, English and French, which makes sense based on its location. I say French because the phonetic in some cases is similar. I have not researched this so this is only my perception.

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! The year of the monkey in the Chinese horoscope. A year of adventures and change and a little bit of craziness! Don’t get carried away, still focus on the task at hand and be intentional in your doings but also be open to the craziness of this new year. Things might get stirred up.

To honor the monkey’s year, already several things are happening in my existential sphere. There have been prophetic dreams (not mine, so I will not share the details), I am going to apply to be a coordinator of the Creative Garden here in Wageningen, I am reading more books (I read El Peregrino by Paulo Coelho which BLEW MY MIND and now I am reading Lamb a book about Jesus’ childhood years narrated by his best friend Biff, very interesting and fun), I am doing an online permaculture course to get certified, I am wrapping up my work with my current company and starting to focus on projects I am passionate about like permaculture, writing and making art (I am losing my steady income, nail biter :P, opportunity for other magic to happen), by the way, Chris and I are restarting our Wellness talks this Saturday 1/9/2016 10:30 am Central Time and we will make the talk live, here is the link. Most likely the talk will be in Spanish or Spanglish, you know how it goes. Also, Elkita and I are looking for a new home since the one we are living in got sold and we have to move out by March 10th. We are looking at options. We are going to find a beautiful place in the country side, I know it :). So as you can see the year is starting and the excitement levels are high! Still the days are really short but they are getting longer!

Back to the nature talk. Last weekend I went back to the Creative Garden. The task at hand was coppicing (cutting) 2 year old or older willow branches and prepping the area to build a living fence which will be used as a wind breaker and a support to grow bines and in this case, specific bines, hop bines to make beer! One of our garden coordinators Matthijs is a home brewer so these organic, natural hops will be amazing for his beer.

From Matthijs I learned 2 things this past weekend. First, how to do a proper coppicing of a willow branch, see image below. The idea is to coppice the branch in an angle and have the slope of the cutting slope outwards of the main trunk preventing water to slide off the slope and drip onto the main trunk which would eventually rot the trunk.

The second thing I learned from Matthijs is that there are vines and bines. The plants where beer hops grow are bines. Hops are the female flower of the bines. And grapes grow in vines. The difference is mainly in the way the plant climbs onto its support. Vines use coiled like “arms” (tendrils) that come out of the main stem to attach and to climb their support, while bines use their main stem to attach, wrap and climb their support. This blog explains the differences nicely. Another interesting fact that I learned on Wikipedia is that hops (Humulus) are from the Cannabaceae family.

The willow cuttings have been left soaking in water so they would not dry and this next weekend we will be planting the living fence.

I got to the garden a little earlier, before the coppicing started, so I helped by giving the chicks some water. Chicken are amazing in what they do and to be around. Just looking at them is a meditation.

That’s it for today!

Stayed tuned for more nature talks! And don’t forget to join Chris and myself on our first wellness talk of the year!

Happy New Year family!