I noticed about a week ago that there seemed to be a lot more water than usual along the side of the garden when it borders my next door neighbour. (I don’t have a neighbour the other side because the garden borders an arroyo.) I thought it was because the irrigation system was coming on more often. There’s a conifer hedge along the boundary, and they need a lot more water than the Spanish climate provides.
Yesterday, the dogs came in muddy up to their knees, so I went to investigate. It turned out we had a water leak, and a pretty bad one. That side of my garden now contained a small pond!
I phoned my landlords to let them know, and they came out the same afternoon to fix it. Like most Spanish farmers who have tended their land for generations, they know the importance of not wasting water.
Sadly, it was too late for the big, old fig tree.
I noticed it wasn’t doing well when I moved in at the end of September last year. It didn’t have many leaves on it, and the few it did have were shrivelled and tired looking. Compared to the dark, heavy leaves on the other fig trees, it was obviously struggling. I wondered if the irrigation system that fed the conifer hedge was making the ground too wet for it, and dug a channel between the fig tree and the hedge to try and keep the water away.
Spring came, and the other fig trees started to shoot and grow leaves. They were soon weighed down with the new growth, and young figs were starting to appear, but the old fig tree was still struggling. It had some new growth, and even a few figs, but whole sections of it were clearly dead, and where it was growing, the new leaves were very small and pale compared to the others. I wondered if it was just very, very old, and even trees don’t live forever, but the overwatering problem still niggled at me.
It’s pretty clear now that the old fig tree is finished. The heavy watering, which has probably gone on for many years, has rotted its roots, and the saturated ground wasn’t strong enough to hold it.
It makes me very sad to see an old tree (that probably produced hundreds of figs every year when it was healthy) end up like that, but I can’t be sentimental. I need to get someone with a chainsaw to cut it up for me, before my landlords realise what’s happened. I’m planning to get a woodburner installed this winter, so I may as well make use of it.