THE BEGINNINGS OF THE VEGETABLE GARDEN
The garden is that natural world where healthy food is grown. It is a place to find serenity and to recharge your batteries. In a vegetable garden or on a terrace in a flat, gardening is a time to take care of yourself and reconnect with nature while preserving your health.
TAMING THE SOIL
Soil is a complex universe that is home to microfauna, which transform organic matter to make it alive and fertile for plant growth. Welcoming microbial life and earthworms into the soil is desirable, as they allow it to breathe. Natural treatments are a solution for this. The appearance of the soil is another indicator of its quality. Round, granular soil is a sign of health. Soil that tends to be geometrically shaped is deficient in some element. Touching the soil helps to determine its properties.
The jar analysis technique, with one third soil and two thirds decanted water, makes it easier to understand the composition of the soil. You will then see whether it is rich in organic matter, clayey, silty or chalky. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qozbuabbqY4
These clues will help you to understand the purpose of the soil, i.e. which plant it can easily support. For example, a sandy soil is perfect for carrots, which find water and can grow unhindered.
ORGANISE YOUR CROPS
The beginning of the year is the ideal time to draw up a crop chart according to the vegetables you want to choose for the year. Two main rules apply, the sowing period and crop rotation.
For sowing, it is already time at the beginning of March, to sow at a stable temperature of 12°c, its peppers, aubergines, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, courgettes, etc. They will be put in the ground later, when the temperature is milder. They will be put in the ground later, when the temperatures are milder.
Some plants, such as early carrots, broad beans, spring spinach and peas, can be sown in the garden this month.
Crop rotation helps to avoid exhausting the land. It consists of not putting plants of the same family from one year to the next on the same cultivated area. For example, some areas can be left fallow, with a green manure, i.e. a living cover crop to regenerate them. You can plant phacelia, which attracts bees, on a piece of land that you will not cultivate. This plant will help to replenish the soil and support a new crop later on.
We recommend the use of the Permaculture Calendar 2022, published by Rustica, to help you plan your strategy. It is a comprehensive guide that gives good indications for the cultivation periods.
Reading about new agro-ecological practices sheds light on a new way of growing food in abundance, while respecting the soil and biodiversity. Here is our selection of books where you can find precise advice and guidance for your gardening.
The Bec Hellouin experimental micro-farm, where scientific research is carried out, has published with Actes Sud a three-book manual to discover the world of permaculture and its secrets. It is a complete and illustrated read.
In this book by Terre et Humanisme, published by Actes Sud, you will discover the steps to create your own resilient garden step by step and use various techniques that have been proven over the last few years to achieve self-sufficiency.
Preserving water, this rare and essential resource for the proper development of plants, is a challenge that Olivier Filippi proposes to take up in this book published by Actes Sud.
SOME PERMACULTURE TECHNIQUES
One of the permaculture techniques that protects the soil from leaching, conserves water and provides protection for the plants is the permanent cover technique. Indeed, the forest, the most fertile environment by nature, never sees its soil completely bare.
We can make our growing area more resistant by mimicking it. To do this, you can spread straw, rye or hay around your plants to a thickness of 5 to 10 cm. For very poor soils, a cover of Ramial Fragmented Wood can be a good transition.
Mulch must be maintained and kept throughout the year. It can attract slugs or certain rodents, so it is important to pay attention to the biodiversity of the area to avoid invasions. A hedgehog friend in a pile of leaves is essential.
Permaculture aims to produce more and more permanently on less space. To achieve this, phytosociology comes into play. It is the science of plant associations. The ancient mixture of the three sisters; maize, beans, pumpkins is a good example.
Associations of certain plants are beneficial. Nutrient and water exchange between the root systems of certain species has been proven. Plants communicate and you can facilitate this communication by referring to association tables.
TO FILL WITH WONDER FROM A VERY YOUNG AGE
Copain des jardins, published by Milan, is a treasure trove for children who want to discover gardening and vegetable gardening. It includes illustrations and educational explanations, as well as tips and tricks for tinkering and setting up a growing area.
This booklet, designed by Deyrolle, includes 35 colouring sheets. It allows children to rediscover old vegetable varieties in a playful way. The pages can be detached and then framed.
Published by La Salamandre, this book provides numerous techniques for welcoming and increasing biodiversity in the garden. It helps to identify and recognise the different species present.
The photographer Marc Pouyet proposes a picture book to discover the garden with a different look. The forms and colours of nature inspire and make you experience a moment of art, to feel the beauty of the cultures.
The vegetable garden is a space that opens up to us. It allows us to reconnect with the living and to find ourselves. Through reading and practice, it takes us on an adventure, that of life. With family, friends, alone or accompanied, starting a vegetable garden is an activity which, as the seasons go by, makes for an authentic and sublime experience.