Practical Ecology

Nature Switched On





in the Pyrenees  the first 10 years

floristic catalogue
faunistic catalogue
gallery 1: 2006-2012
gallery 2: 2012-
>> 2010 Sep 17
<< 2010 Jul  2

                         a   S T A M M E R  project              

2010 July 8 to September 4

Due to family circumstances, I had to be in Holland for a longer period of time and wasn't able to update the web log.
The vegetable garden suffered a bit from my absence but Blanca and some friends watered the most important plants a couple of times and the fruit trees, for example, are in a good condition after a long and hot summer. Fortunately there was a mayor downpour of rain on the 2nd of September (32 litres).

I closely monitor the green fertilizers Trifolium repens and Lotus corniculatus as to their growth, resistance and fertilizing qualities. They had already shown a very early start in the season, and now they are also demonstrating a good resistance against dry conditions.


The nine tomato plants have survived the summer reasonably well. It's a local variety called 'Rosa', which I got from a neighbour. The taste and texture are superb and also the size is formidable.







The green lines mark the rows of the green fertilizers.
Lotus corniculatus
has been clipped.
4 Sept 18:11


  9 Tomato plants. On the right Jerusalem artichoke at the point of flowering.
The Red peppers in the plastic bottles didn't do well.
1 Sept 9:29


Back in July we seem to have found the explanation to the problem of very poor plant growth in certain areas of the higher pond. For some months there had been an explosive growth of a macro alga, a Chara species (probably Chara connivens), forming a kind of green meadow in the pond. Now it seems that these Charas produce a substance which is toxic for other plants, a phenomenon called allelopathy, which might explain the disappearance of Iris pseudacorus and the poor growth of other species in the affected area.



Nevertheless, Charas are normally considered as indicators of ecologically good water conditions and prefer clean waters.

  Close up of Chara connivens with some small orange-red buds.
10 Jul 16:07
Green monoculture of Chara connivens in the upper pond.
9 Jul 10:53


Sparganium erectum doesn't seem to be affected by any toxins and is getting almost too dominant in the upper pond . I would have taken some out if it were not for a group of six beautiful Wasp spiders (Argiope bruennichi) which had settled among the leaves.










Above the lower pond many bloodred Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) males are flying and fighting to mate with the few, less conspiciously coloured females.

Overview of the pond area with the recently cut vegetation.
The abundant green growth on the left is from Sparganium erectum.
4 Sept 18:15
Argiope bruennichi among the leaves of Sparganium erectum.
3 Sept 9:44
Sympetrum sanguineum in the lower pond.
29 Aug 16:44



Another mystery are the insects or spiders that form these perfect holes in some areas of the track that runs through the terrain. Their heads appear and disappear with the slightest treading near their holes. We imagine that they trap insects like ants but couldn't witness any capture.

Dozens of these holes could be found along the track.
The very regular holes measured about 7mm in diameter.
11 Jul 11:46


What follows is a collection of impressions of the terrain in this time of the year.
Terrain is not a nice word to use.
What about garden?  An important characteristic of a garden is the fencing and separation from the surrounding land, but this terrain hasn't any kind of fencing and on the contrary: I highly appreciate the connection and relation to the surrounding landscape.

Is it a park? But a park is artificially designed with a high priority to aesthetics and a low impact of agriculture whereas our terrain is fundamentally a group of differently levelled terraces which were originally made to produce forage, olives and almonds.  Our own management is focussed on natural and random processes with only guiding and stimulating interactions on our part. At the same time the vegetation in some areas is regularly cut for haymaking, used for the mulching of the vegetable garden.

What about meadow then: the haymaking will of course establish some kind of permanent grassland, but only on perhaps a third of the total area and even in the haymaking areas some shrubs and trees are spared to favour an ecologically interesting structure and a kind of park-like landscape.

Why not call it an ecocathedral? LeRoy and his Eco-cathedral are a mayor source of inspiration and we share especially the emphasis on the process instead of fixing ourselves to goals and results. But we also probably share the 'problem' of not being able to be classified or defined. Both projects are original and one of a kind and that is how it perhaps always should be. An important difference with LeRoy's Ecocathedral  is that I don't work with salvaged bricks and debris and that's why the word cathedral is here probably less appropriate.

In the absence of satisfactory alternatives, I was at the point of sticking to terrain.  Anyway, as always, words are only lame indicators of the real thing.
But then the word zone occurred to me. It is the title of one of my CD albums, partly referring to the film Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky. According to the Cambridge Internation Dictionary of English a zone is:
an area, esp. one which is different from the areas around it because it has different characteristics or is used for different purposes.

That's it, besides zone has got a better ring than terrain and makes a connection to my musical work, which is largely based on the same underlying motivation (see  introduction).

Here then, some more images of the zone:










  Higher western terrace with Quercus coccifera, Thymus vulgaris and the numerous tiny stalks of Odontites luteus, which is at the point of flowering.
2 Sept 19:24
Cornus sanguinea is colouring red.
Middle terrace, looking west.
2 Sept 19:02
  Recently cut vegetation on the centre terrace.
Looking south-east.
6 Sep 18:43
These pile of concrete blocks were inspired by the Eco-cathedral,
but the material stays quite lifeless and inert and is not something to be extended.
2 Sep 18:38
  Thymus vulgaris with Phleum phleoides on the foreground. A Walnut tree (spontaneous) on the right.
2 Sept 18:53

Black mulbery  (Morus nigra) surrounded by the grass Phleum phleoides.
2  Sept 19:52
Dead brown stalks of Sedum species and the almost white stalks of Lactuca serriola on the earth wall separating two terraces.
Looking south-east.
2 Sept 18:48
Yellow flowering Senecio jacobaea on the foreground.
Middle terrace, looking east.
 2 Sept 19:21 
Lower terrace, looking south-east.
Flowering Winter savory (Satureja montana) on the right foreground.
3 Sept 10:14

Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara) is favoured by the water coming from the kitchen drain.
3 Sept 9:25
The Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo)  on the left has not grown much since plantation more than 2 years ago, but at least survives without watering (but with mulching).
2 Sept 19:07


The house is still performing well. Important is that no fractures have appeared in the plaster on the inside and outside walls, indicating that the walls are stable and the plaster and lime is sticking well.
When outside temperatures reach 35C on the hottest days, inside it can be as high as 29. This is a bit more than expected and desirable but easily explainable: all the warmth produced inside, that is from the refrigerator, the cooking and our own bodies, is well kept inside the straw bale walls. For this reason it is perhaps better to cook outside or limit the cooking to the evening hours, when temperatures usually drop significantly.



The green roof gives a rather brown impression at the moment, but under the dry stalks of the withered Sedum flowers the plants look green and growing.

View from the front window with the greenhouse at the back.
8 Jul 9:18
  Looking north.
29 Aug 19:06

floristic catalogue
faunistic catalogue
gallery 1: 2006-2012
gallery 2: 2012-
>> 2010 Sep 17
<< 2010 Jul 2












Latest revision on:  01/08/2018