Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Dike break at sunset

May 16, 2007

Dijkbreak in the Occitanian kitchen garden

Each time I leave my Occitanian kitchen garden to go back to the Polar Circle, my neighbour Sidi ElGouche agrees to water for me a few times a week. Although he just has to divert the pipe between our allotments, let ‘er rip and redivert once my garden has had a good soaking, it’s a generous gesture and is both a testament to my absence and his presence down at the gardens. Right before I go I usually test the irrigation to see how my channels are holding up though testing without the time or intent to fix is stupid as you can readily see in the above photo. In the most optimistic sense this image reveals that I have come to embrace my life the Netherlands down to the very marrow of my bones. But on a more basic level, it reveals a break in the dike of my kitchen garden nearly 1200 kilometres away.

Back lit potager

Granted, it’s uncommon to commute such great distances between kitchen and garden but the upside is a self-invented form of gardening which I call permaculture, after a fashion. In the spirit of ‘whatever works, works’ I still have two food and seed-producing plots that on some level and de temps en temps can be managed with minimal input on my part. I said on my part. The potager works in no small part due to the fact that I have a generous neighbour, a flowing river rushing with free water, and a well-intended irrigation system, leaky though it may be.

Dijkbreak in the Occitanian kitchen garden

You can get a lot done in five days of gardening, but that doesn’t leave a lot of time for rumniating and fancy planning. I devoted an entire day to the borders of the upper garden in the hope of infusing them with shots of colour and activating the berm with self-seeding annuals and perrenials. But there was simply no time for coherent garden design. It still takes me ages to imagine how to plant the spikey and bushy foliages, how to group the edibles with the perrenials and mostly edible annuals, and to decide where the vertical gardening should happen. And I know what I don’t like more than I know what I do. For example, I know that I don’t like pink. Good planning aside, it’s not for nothing that Kristi and I coined the saying, Pink Happens. Depending what pops up this year, we’ll probably be extending that to include, White Happens and Pastels Happen.

sage flowers and chard

On the brighter side of irrigation, I did manage to replace the white clover with bergamot and mint as a way of lining the watering channels. It’s going to be a perfumey summer in the waterways, picking strawberries and flowers, inadvertently stepping on the leaves and stems of the mint and bergamot, while my garden sips Earl Grey tea.

Dijkbreak in the Occitanian kitchen garden

debra at 14:28 | | post to

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