Journal March 2023

The shorter month of February passed quickly and the temperatures started rising mid-month giving us a feeling of spring. Although we had a few rainy days, we would like to see some more rain this season, also to give the plants we are planting these weeks a good start. Generally we took the time to organise ourselves, as well as in the garden as in and around the house and the kitchen. Preparing the place to receive more guests in the coming months, planning our Silence Retreats and promoting some other events on our website, planting more trees in the garden and working on a booking system, soon to be launched. All to improve the experience for our guests, to create a place of beauty, where people feel welcome, and can discover how true meaning and joy might emerge if life is lived in service of what is.

Slowly but steadily, we increase our interaction with the surroundings. We develop good contacts with our neighbours, some of us take Spanish lessons from a local private teacher, others work from time to time in the ‘tasca’ (a kind of tavern where locals go to have a drink and some food) in the old center of Nijar and more of our well-known friends are settling in the village. As it’s too easy to live in a little bubble where we all enjoy ourselves, and welcome our known friends, we embrace these developments, for life is open and consists of a continuous interaction with everything else, and we and our presence should reflect that.

The garden of the Asharum Nijar: Back to the Roots

Some small greenhouses have been purchased in which we can better control the temperature and humidity in this climate. The current larger greenhouse will be transformed into a ‘shade house’ where in summer, plants that need some shade and cannot or have not been planted yet can survive the scorching Andalusian summer sun. From the garden now mostly broccoli and onions can be harvested and we are experimenting with fermentation of the red cabbage. In a week or so we will see if we can enjoy the result or if we should keep experimenting for a while.

During the last week, many new trees have been planted in the garden. The choice has been made to go for local trees to give the garden a complete look, while leaving ample space for experimenting with more extraordinary species. For now, olives, almonds and pomegranates have been added, as well as some date palms, a grapefruit and an apple tree. For a few days, both the residents of the Ermitage and the Asharum, joined the activity of purchasing the trees and giving them a new home; digging holes, drive stakes into the ground, mixing the soil with compost and manure, tying the trees to the poles to help them withstand the strong winds and connecting them to the irrigation system. Within a few days more than 30 trees were added to the garden. Working together, like a well-oiled machine, accompanied by the chirping of birds, seeing the immediate improvement to the garden made it a joyful experience for all of us. By taking care of the trees, and each other in the coming years, we hope to share and extend this joy in the broadest way possible.

More building and improving

The building that will house the tool shed and workshop, next to the Shrine, is being erected with enormous speed. Last month the ground works just started and currently the roof is being built. This new building becomes larger than expected, and we are able to include an extra storage room, which is very welcome. The building overlooks the garden, extending our buildings’ enclosure of the garden in a beautiful manner.

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