When I moved country to start a new life, I threw myself into being as self sufficient as possible. I had read health reports on the benefits of home grown organic food and tasted the difference with my home grown garden vegetables, so I happily embraced this self sufficient life, in a country with more sunshine and with a bigger plot to support more plants. Knowing it was going to be hard work, but having dabbled in growing before, I felt confident I could turn a meadow into an abundant vegetable garden.
Living on the crest of a balkan mountain, almost in the Mediterranean, has its challenges. Very shallow soil depth needed constant additions to supplement plant nutrients and scare water in a hot summer, turned soil solid and prevented roots reaching the goodness that I painstakingly added. Water is an important requirement for life.
Being so remote, water for the house was dependent on a constant water supply. The only option available was piped water from a natural spring, higher up the mountains. But this pipework was old. It froze in winter, ran dry in summer and was prone to breakages. The water pipe network had been installed a long time ago by the village (without a repair fund) and with modern appliances such as flushing toilets, showers and washing machines, it was not enough water for humans let alone gardens. So we made many attempts to store as much excess spring water as possible. Numerous containers bought, rain water collectors installed, and huge reservoirs built to try and cope with normal day to day requirements and hopefully last through to the autumn rains.
Every year, new ways to obtain water were conceived and deployed. Even loading a 1,000 litre tub on a trailer and driving it to the next village, where the supply was slow, meaning waiting all day for only half a tank. Yet still, with only two people on strict water rations, the garden suffered, produce was pitiful and the mammoth waste of time and energy spent in procuring additional water, became absurd. Water is a vital part of life and we couldn’t accept guests with a scarcity of water. We even packed up and evacuated one August, because there was no water.
Thoughts of ‘time to quit’ were aired and ‘part-time home’ were discussed, giving consideration to feasibility and desire to stay in this area of outstanding beauty. Only one thing for it… we had to have our own water, from within our garden, not piped, under our control and not affected by anything else. So water divining was suggested and, as if by magic (otherwise known as money), a man appeared with a very big drill. Water was searched for and a deep hole dug, the comparison of an 8 storey building.
Now I can relax and enjoy more aspects of mountain life, with a constant supply of water and automatic garden watering. Freeing up time to be less of a slave to my cultivated oasis and branch out into the creative areas of flower beds to provide an array of colours and scents to enthral the senses, living sculptures to realise my artistic side and above all – more life.