Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter Wood Work

 Wood Clearings

We have been absent on and off from Le Ripe for the past two months but Paolo and his helper have been hard at work, continuing to clear the northwestern section of the (extended) garden. Paolo likes to refer to this converted area as parco or parkland.

before - a wilderness

during the clearing: note the burn patch from earlier work and the current piles of prunings and cuttings

during the clearing: note the piles of 'rubble' and the ivy cut from the oak

The former field (once called the secondo campo di sopra by the farmers) is not being cleared back to its pristine state - for this is not allowed, nor do we expect to achieve that. It is being cleared of the rubbish, the scrub and brambles, the blackthorn and weeds, the dead and unsightly branches, leaving only the saplings and trees which have sprung up since the field was abandoned more than 40 years ago.

more wilderness before

during clearing
Field maples, elms, oaks, junipers, hawthorn, pyracanthas, manna ash and so forth are now given light and space to grow while the area is made accessible to humans and pleasing to the eye. Paolo has left some small copses which are attractive in their own right.

the general effect after, towards northwest

ditto after, towards southeast and the house
During this operation over the last weeks, a new nation-wide law against burning in the open was announced. In truth we are rather glad that Paolo has been obliged to stop his roaring bonfires of prunings and cuttings which we always considered problematic from an ecological point of view. Now we are forced to find other ways of dealing with all the 'rubble'. Probably the most sensible and worthwhile is to hire a woodchipper to shred up the biomass into chips which can be used as mulch, made into compost or even burned in our furnace for heating. 

wonderful woodchips
These solutions will seem obvious, but in this part of the world, where burning off has been the expedient for years, they are a novelty. So far I haven't found any locals who seem to understand what mulch is. When I use the word pacciamatura, they think I am referring to 'compost', a word which seems to exist here only in its English version. My impression is that, until recently, the only compost regularly used was manure.

from field to wilderness to 'parkland' in two generations?

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