The Mandala Garden Keeps Growing

It was spring when we planted and wrote about our first mandala (read the post here). We wrote of our plans to plant 6 mandalas, 2 weeks apart… This didn’t quite happen! Life and building took over and in reality the 6th mandala has yet to be planted. But our huerto has given us a lot of food ever since the beginning of summer and we are growing ever more fond if it!

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For me it has been and continues to be quite a learning experience, but the main lesson I have learned is that with a bit of effort and commitment, you can grow your own food with very little knowledge. I remember at first feeling very inexperienced and inadequate, and quite overwhelmed when we came back from the seedling place with what seemed like hundreds of little plants needing planted and nurtured… we had kind of agreed that the huerto would be my thing while Luke got on with the build itself but I didn’t feel at all ready to be left alone with it! Luke gave me a few basic instructions and left me to get on with it – I spent ages wondering whether each plant should be planted deeper into the earth, whether it would be better here or there, whether I had pressed the soil in enough or too much… I laugh now when I look back at my uncertainty as I plant away these days, quickly moving round each bed.

So we made it to 3 summer mandalas, which have kept us well fed on varying amounts of tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, chillis, beetroot, aubergine, onions and leeks at different times throughout.

October Aubergines in Mandala 3

October Aubergines in Mandala 3

We also had other fruit and veg planted outside the mandalas, as they needed more space to grow: melons, pumpkins, cucumber, butternut squash, courgettes, artichokes and okra. We enjoyed a lot of delicious artichokes, simply sliced and then fried in grass-fed butter…

Artichoke feast!

Artichoke feast!

 

Artichokes fried in grass-fed butter. Mmmmm!

Artichokes fried in grass-fed butter. Mmmmm!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and this at a time when apparently nobody else’s artichokes were growing! Everyone was so surprised to hear that our plants were bearing fruit out of season – we were none the wiser and have now learned that this plant does not usually require a lot of water and we were watering it along with everything else and they obviously liked it! Let’s see what happens for the rest of the year when the “normal” artichoke season comes round! In the meantime they are providing some beautiful purple flowers that rather remind us of the thistles of Scotland.

Artichoke flowers masquerading as thistles

Artichoke flowers masquerading as thistles

It does make sense for me to be in charge of the huerto since I am also in charge of putting nutritious food on our table. As many of you know Luke and I are very selective about what we put in our bodies and what better way to control this than to grow our own food. It has been quite a challenge at times but also in a good way, encouraging me to look for recipes to create with the ripening food in our garden. One of my fave discoveries of the year was my tomato soup, invented on a strangely cold and rainy day in August when salad was on the menu but we needed something to warm us up. Luckily I could get my nephew-in-law the superchef Stewie on whats’app to check my progress and ask for tips and I was amazed how well this improvised soup turned out (I was brought up on tinned tomato soup and this is like a natural home made version of the Heinz classic). See the recipe here.

Ca'n Mandala tomato soup

Ca’n Mandala tomato soup

Anyhoo… we planted Mandala 4 in mid July, with our first winter veg and some black cherry tomatoes. We are very much still learning about what to plant when, how long the season lasts for certain veg, when to expect things to be ready… at first I felt a bit stressed by the not knowing, but now I have learnt to relax into the mystery! We are still eating from M4’s cherries and have just eaten our first broccoli, steamed, smothered in grassfed butter and sprinkled with sea salt – Mmmmmmmm!!!! However the cauliflowers and cabbages seem to take a little longer and they will also take a bit more prep I guess… happy to receive any suggestions for recipes for these as I have never cooked a cabbage in my life and feel like I’ve got hundreds on the way!

Before I sign off I must tell you about our latest salad. We have planted some straight beds to make the most of the areas where we had the melons and cucumbers in summer and they are looking just splendid. And since we have been having such amazing weather for October, and having had a bit of a break from salad since a bit of an overdose in summer, we are really enjoying the tender young lettuces along with the black cherry tomatoes, some feta cheese, walnuts and pomegranate seeds, both from our generous neighbour Pepe. We then dress the salad with a spritz of balsamic and a drizzle of our other neighbour Rafa’s olive oil, fruit of the olive grove we can see on the west side of our house.

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It is so beautiful to already be feeding ourselves from our land, before we even live here, and to be cultivating relationships with our neighbours, with whom we intend to share and exchange many more things in the future. We really are tasting the life we are creating for ourselves, getting away from the city and the need for public infrastructure, creating our own reality for the life we want to live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first steps to a dream-come-true

When I went on my first date with Luke on 21st April 2012 I had never heard of Permaculture. By the end of the day I had had quite an intense introduction, as Luke explained the concept to me from the point of view of his dream, while we rock-climbed in Calvià, ate pizza on the dock in Port Andratx, and walked Luna in the forest of Paguera. We said our first goodbye under the lemon tree at his gate, a mere 20 metres from where I sit now, but not before he had bamboozled me with the plans he had drawn for Ca’n Mandala, his permaculture dream-to-come-true.

Already then, we shared a common desire to live in harmony with nature, it’s just that he had already got into much more detail about how that was going to happen! Gradually Ca’n Mandala became a dream that we dream together, a dream that is now becoming a reality. A home built with natural materials (many of which will be reclaimed), which will warm us in the winter and cool us in the summer… where we can re-use all of our waste water on the land, turning our bodily waste into compost to nourish the earth… where we can step outside and collect vegetables from our garden and fruit from our food forest… where animals will help us to farm the land, just by doing what they do best… where we can be happy living a simple life together.

Luna in Kitchen doorway

August 2012

August 2012

We are at the beginning of a very exciting journey, as we build our house and our life together, and we hope you will join us as we share our experiences, the things we learn and the mistakes we make, the joys and the challenges, the triumphs and disappointments. Join us, dear friends, and if you would like to get involved, make some suggestions, lend a hand, please feel free! Welcome one and all.