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

Local warming

March 5, 2008

Potager au feu, Occitanian kitchen garden is a hot mess
Potager au feu. The lower bit of the Occitanian kitchen garden is clearly a chic-free zone. Burn marks indicate the size of the original fire.

Yesterday in the lower garden I made an enormous fire. It was the first time in my life I was able to get it going in one go, normally it can take me the better part of an hour. The fire was so huge I feared I’d burn down neighbour Nadine’s cabane and explode the tires on my bike. I’d wanted to take pictures when the fire was really blazing high, taking up two rows of my winter-bare kitchen garden, but it was too dangerous to leave and get my camera until it died down. All the old guys were just standing around watching, maybe keeping an eye out, mostly talking about ‘le foot’. I kept thinking that this is the opposite of a Jewish environment, no one telling me to be careful, all that talking about ‘le foot’.

The lower Occitanian kitchen garden, before picture
The before shot. To be clear, (Dad) I didn’t turn the soil, just readjusted the canals and put that soil atop the sticks and weeds on the rows so that it could decompose.

It’s not particularly permaculture to burn things or till the soil, although nature doesn’t seem to mind a wild fire every now and again. But the woody weedballs and thick stalks from the Jerusalem artichoke, the bane of my garden existence, threatened to make the soil too chunky.

I was going back and forth deciding whether I should ’till’ my ‘no-till’ field, finally settling on setting the knotty bits ablaze and pulverising the rest with my hands into something the soil could digest on its lonesome. Very satisfying work. My hands now ache, but I love this kind of muscle pain. And I’m so tired that I’m going to bed with dirt in my hair, I love that even more. City lady turns Turnip lady.

Topinambour, ready for the urn, ashes in the Occitanian kitchen garden,
A heap of Jerusalem artichoke and other ashes

debra at 12:14 | | post to


  1. I’m looking with longing city eyes at your garden in process…i wish i was amongst the weeds and fresh air! I discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago and love it! Your cheeses, hibiscus flowers, sprouts and stories have made me smile and are an inspiration!

    Comment by Robin — March 8, 2008 @ 13:19

  2. Thanks Robin, very sweet of you to say. Check out the entries under this link. This might be a solution for you. Butternut squash growing indoors.

    I grew a guest room last summer.

    Comment by Debra van Culiblog — March 10, 2008 @ 0:26

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