Gardeners World – A Leaf from the Gardeners in Catalan

Gardeners World - Catalonia Spain

Taking a solitary stroll around the Catalonian hilltop village, Castelló d’Empúries, I spy the thriving allotments of the locals. I have devoured the excellent local cuisine, and am eager take a closer look at the fresh produce and a gardener’s life in Northern Spain.

The Castelló d'Empúries allotmentsThere is a sleepy ancient town in Spain, where quaint allotments nestle in the ruins of a bygone castle. I am peering over a crumbling wall at neat rows of leeks and dwarf beans, peppers and bursting lines of courgettes. There are wicker trellises supporting climbers and a yellow scallop squash hangs like a jewel among cheerful decorative flowers.

Flowering plants make the vegetable garden pretty, of course, and flowers in the veggie plot seem to proclaim the joy of gardening alongside the satisfying practicality of gardening. But the flowers serve another purpose; as practical as any. Certain blooms attract the right insects to the patch, increasing pollination and boosting veggie yields.Vegetable and Flowers Catalan Garden

At 8:30 pm there is soft daylight still in the August sky. The gardens are dotted with an occasional figure peacefully pottering down the rows. The gardens support the inhabitants of the quiet village that saw its hey day in the 12th century, when the noblemen moved their castle from the coast to the vantage point atop the gentle hill.

Gardeners World Ideas

The Castelló d’Empúries allotments are a reminder of how people all over the world are making use of every available space for their gardens. Nurtured in the most unlikely places, Gardens shall prevail! We should take a leaf from their gardens, finding space for homegrown veggies and herbs, be it castle ruins or buckets on our balconies.

Available space can be used to create a route to sustainability that is a pleasure to the eye; who doesn’t feel the surge of pride and joy to glimpse in passing the fruits of their labours, waiting to be hand picked fresh as fresh.Vegetable patch in Catalan garden

In the serenity, with my reflections, I share my stroll with five or six Catalan men who are meandering companionably homewards down the middle of the road. The ancient moat and castle are on our left, a fertile valley on the right, stretching away to the distant Pyrenees mountain range, blue on the horizon. A gardener’s idyll, to enchant and bewitch.

A thick set man in a robe and scull cap wanders home with a magnificent lettuce in hand, nods to acknowledge me on the curved bridge over the moat. I envy the beautiful fresh salad he will no doubt enjoy, bursting with the flavour and fragrance of the land.

The allotments are sustained by a lattice of shallow irrigation gutters dug into the soil. There are deeper ditches which feed the gutters; no hosepipes in sight.

The utilisation of the rivers and the natural fall of land is a brilliant way for a community to irrigate their veggie plots. Careful planning and a little research can give any gardener great ideas on water preservation and irrigation.

Walled garden and mountain Catalan Castelló d'Empúries allotmentsAs we know, water conservation can be a major headache for the irrigation of our beloved beds, and with national water shortages, we are screaming out for clever ways to keep the garden flourishing.

In the absence of an ancient castle moat to keep your roots wet, gardeners must turn their attention to the water available in their own environments; rain water catching systems, or suitable grey water.

Barrels can be positioned to store water that runs off the roof. Soapy water can combat bugs on flowering plants and most soap and detergents will be filtered by the soil. Soil quality can help – adding nutrients to nourish the plants and layers of mulch to preserve water.

In times of drought, soaker hoses and drip systems release water very slowly underground, feeding the roots in the most effective and preservation way.

I ascend into the village, and standing in an ancient basilica turret I survey the land below me. As the sky darkens over the village, the locals settle into their evening meals in the cool of the evening. There is a harmony between the gardener and the fresh food on his table.