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

The neglected autumnal
kitchen garden

October 5, 2007

biomass kitchen garden
Prolific biomass obscuring the cabane

After 6 months of neglect, I returned to the Occitanian kitchen garden to find that in my absence it had produced 400 cubic metres of exuberant biomass. In the upper garden the cabane was completely obscured by a thicket of weeds and I’m not even emotionally prepared to share any images of the lower garden. Suffice it to say, there is a field of pretty yellow flowers, some 3 metres high and each one connected to a feisty topinambour which is just a sexy word for Jerusalem Artichoke and which I have the luxury of calling the bane of my existence.

dahlia in the kitchen garden
Found some dahlias in the tangle

But a nice thing about competitive local weeds is that they also compete with eachother. When I finally found the path in the upper garden and started yanking out 2 metre tall weeds, I discovered that there weren’t all that many. Within 2 hours I had worked through the entire garden and found my intentional planting exactly where I had left it with a few surprises to boot. The dahlias had survived and were thriving under the canopy. My artichokes, whose hearts I had missed by maintaining bass-ackwards urban priorities this summer, were all there. And the wild and stolen fraises de bois had carpeted their new location.

found zucchini pig
A zucchini resembling a nestling sleepy piglet

At the base of the dahlia near the red currant bushes there had grown a little piglet of zucchini. Odd, I hadn’t planted any. Must’ve dropped a seed at some point, the plant had long rotted away. I even found a melon grown under the same accidental circumstances and last year’s shiso plants had self-seeded vigourously. I now consider red kale a perrenial.

black hole sunflowers
Blackhole sunflowers not exactly washing away the rain

The work was strenuous but satisfying and I caught a buzz off the aroma of bergamot, which I kept brushing up against and trampling in the canals. Hard not to become emotional, about my absence from the garden this summer, about my un-neighbourly permaculture. My neighbours Jean-Louis and El Gouche arrived and rubbed their eyes in disbelief at my presence. I dropped my shears, burst into tears and ran over for bear hugs ear-smacking kisses. Why do I ever ever leave here?

Kristi makes a bouquet with the flower harvest
Mama turning the tangle into an autumnal bouquet

debra at 16:52 | | post to


  1. “mama” wants to point the readers of this blog to the presence of a serious bottle of Pastis, ashtray and cigarets. It’s not all HEALTH that goes ’round here. Sins need to balance the danger of becoming health-bores…

    Comment by Kristi — October 7, 2007 @ 13:41

  2. But Mama, you don’t have to do it all on your lonesome and in one day.

    Comment by debra — October 8, 2007 @ 21:25

  3. I would like to meet Debra and talk about work. Is this possible?

    Comment by Katrien van der Eerden — November 8, 2007 @ 15:36

  4. Wij zijn buren in Amsterdam, Katrien. Laten we binnenkoort bijeenkomen. Ik heb jou zojuist gemaild met mijn contactgegevens.

    Comment by debra — November 8, 2007 @ 15:53

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