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

Biomass revisited

July 20, 2008

Travelling sprouts, Debra Solomon,
A travel arrangement for seedlings

Some days ago I filled my tiny travel trolley 75% with winter veg seedlings leftover from the raised beds up in the Polar Circle, and left the Land of the Pitiful Sun to return to the Occitanian kitchen garden. While the unpractical but pretty summer dresses & sandals, and the nomadic office with it’s space-absorbing cables were unceremoniously crammed into the remaining nook and cranny, the seedlings of several varieties of broccoli and kales, two sorts of precious artichokes (one early, one late), handy edible flowers and my beloved leafy greens were all delicately packed urban-style into a shoe box, formerly of the pretty summer sandals.

Travelling with plants, Debra Solomon,
She thinks that my baggage is funny and I think that she is funny.

In the months of my absence the garden has produced a teeming hot mess of biomass. Before I left in April I had planted alfalfa and phaecelie to keep out the weeds and nourish the soil, but it’s something of a running joke between my friends that I call the vegetation obscuring the contours of the garden, intentional biomass and they call it weeds. On some level I can understand the confusion, but the alfalfa is blooming in blues and purples, the mints and bergamot burgeoning in the canals waft head-clearing scents every time I brush up against them, swarms of bees are a’buzz on the profusion of flowers, and under all the canopy I found my indulgence of dahlias, planted as markers at the ends of the canals.

Biomass with raspberry and alfalfa, Debra Solomon,
Look, a raspberry and blooming alfalfa

Echinacea views, Debra Solomon,
Lavender and echinacea, from here I can go no further

Even entering the garden requires navigation and I’m thankful for the lavender and echinacea blooming vigorously at the upper corner for providing a point of orientation. In the coming days I’ll re-establish the paths and fold over the intentional biomass, allowing it to rot into plant beds intended for nomadic urban seedlings. What is amazing is that under 120 cm of plant-matter, the previously mulched beds remained intact and free of weeds (I mean biomass), convincing me even more of the efficacy of my permaculture absentia, a garden that can thrive without me.

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