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

Permaculture in the Winter Kitchen Garden

December 11, 2008

Matted leggy bergamot, turning into mulch in the permaculture garden, Debra Solomon,
‘Felting’ the leggy bergamot mint now lining the canals into a fragrant mat of living mulch

A missed flight back up to the Polar Circle from St. Etienne presented me the opportunity of a few days down south. I took the time to enjoy some rejuvenating familialarity and to tidy up the garden for winter. It never ceases to amaze me how efficient permaculture gardening is in the face of repeated absence and outright neglect. In just two afternoons I had more or less prepared the garden for the frosty days of winter, tucking the abundant edibles under living green manure plants and blanketing their beds with the now-rotted mulch harvested from the paths.

Red cabbages growing in between mustard and rocket, Debra Solomon,
Image colours and lighting UNretouched

In the lower garden my task consisted only of harvesting the rocket-filled the canals and cutting a cabbage or two for choucroute from the beds. The mustard green manures had grown tall and seem to be protecting the low-lying rocket, coriander and curly-leaf parsley from the nightly frost.

Dense mizuna lettuces, Debra Solomon,
Copious mizuna lettuce, sorrel and borage amongst phaecelie green manure

In the coldest corner of my upper garden, sorrel, mizuna lettuce and borage (and an invisible cassis) are burgeoning amongst the phaecelie green manure. The adjacent bed (not pictured) grows the most exquisite lacy purple salad mustard, protected from the cold by horseradish and rhubarb. Can you believe that I actually harvested rhubarb in the chilliness of November!

Permaculture mustard, cabbage and rocket in the winter garden, Debra Solomon,
Permaculture perfect for in absentia gardening

Although I left the garden on its lonesome since mid-August, a timely planting of crop and green manures, strategic mulching and permaculture frost protection meant that the garden was full of food at the icy end of November. If the hardy green manures continue to protect against the frost, we’ll be eating fresh leafy greens, crucifers and brassica at midwinter and into the Hungry Gap.

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