vegetables are boring

– or at least not interesting enough to keep posting photos of them on a regular basis.
The subject of kitchen gardens and sustainable small-scale agriculture, however, is endlessly fascinating.

We have just emerged from an intense two week Plein Air art course run by Diane Olivier from San Francisco. Cooking and cleaning and caring for fourteen Californians. Our potager just came ‘on-stream’ as they arrived, and provided a part of what we cooked – purple and yellow French beans, sweet peas, yellow and green courgettes, lettuce and rocket and spinach, plus a few tomatoes and red onions. The cool wet spring held things back this year.

Running parallel to our small  ‘histoire de potager‘  is Charles and Isabelle’s move away from wine-making to vegetable farming. They have many hectares lying fallow now, having taken the grants for uprooting their vines. Many of these ‘parcelles’ of scattered vineyards are too stoney for anything apart from olives. But their favourite lands at Lazagal are valley-bottom, and are very fertile. What was lacking  was water – or rather, a serious means of  irrigation, since there is a large well right there by the Lazagal stream.

This is the solution he came up with :

It’s a 206 cc Bernard side-valve single cylinder petrol engine, from the 50’s, coupled to an equally elderly pump for emptying wine-vats. It starts with one pull – and at tickover speed will pump 50 gallons per minute.

Charles and pump

irrigation at lazagal potager

He has around 150 tomato plants,  perhaps the same of potatoes, plus many peppers, cougettes and aubergines.  It’s all a month behind our stuff – but he sees it as a warm-up for next year when his involvement with the AMAP organisation will bring in some much-needed money.

An association for the preservation of a peasant agriculture ( AMAP) is, in France, a close partnership  between a group of consumers and a local farm, based on a system of weekly distribution of the products of the farm. It is a  contract, based on a financial commitment of the consumers, who pay in advance the totality of their consumption over a period defined by the type of production and the geographical place. This system thus works on the principle of the confidence(trust) and the responsibility of the consumer.

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