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
There 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Walled garden and mountain Catalan Castelló d’Empúries allotments as 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;
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.