I was at friends of Antichi Grani in Umbria registered as WWOOF hosts, when in the early months of 2018 I became aware that I wanted to revive the small vegetable garden behind the house and create some flower beds, inspired by the techniques of dry far- ming, a practice that I learned on different WWOOF experiences. Dry farming, as its name suggests, reduces the amount of water needed for irrigation, even in the hottest months, through the use of biomass (wood, sawdust, canes, prunings, and waste from fo- rest cleaning) which is partly buried and partly put on like a mulch. The effect created is a kind of ‘sponge’ that keeps the soil aired so that no rot develops. In addition, the ‘sponge’ ensures the absorp- tion of water when it is in excess (from rain or irrigation) and the slow release when it is in default (for example in periods of drou- ght). These ideal conditions of hydration guarantee the decay of organic matter in a healthy way, with the formation of hyphae and
Thanks to the contribution of everyone in the work and in the planning we were able to dedicate ourselves to create a dozen raised beds. Once the digging was done and the necessary ma- terials were collected, we started with the actual construction. Proceeding slowly but steadily over a few weeks we managed to finish (but not refine!), and were able to confirm, thanks to the rain and snow in the following days, it worked really well! In fact in this area the soil is clay and there is always the problem of not being able to retain the water that runs off the surface. With this spon- ge effect, we immediately noticed that the water remained where it was needed.