finca la toronja - groentetuin

How to convert an existing orchard into a vegetable garden?

How to convert an existing orchard into a vegetable garden? What methods to use? Hugel culture? Permaculture?  Raised vegetable bins? Oyas?

When hard lockdown began in Spain on 20 March 2020 due to the known C situation, we suddenly found ourselves without guests and struggling to get fresh food. Hard lockdown, fought out shelves in department stores, etc….

This situation suddenly gave us a lot of time to think about what to do next. We had a 1,600 sq m orchard at our disposal and we started from here. Fortunately, we already had knowledge of how to grow vegetables and herbs. Plans made for self-sufficiency, no desire to go to the shop with half-empty shelves and police checks.

Hugelkultur? Permaculture? Raised vegetable bins or not?

So we started building raised vegetable bins, making compost, studying permaculture and hugelkultur. After two years of intensive research, learning and improving on growing vegetables. Permaculture succeeds very well, Hugelkultur takes a little longer time, minimum three years to work on. The raised vegetable containers are a success because the soil is rock hard in some places due to heat and dries out notwithstanding tillage with natural fertiliser and compost.

Water management in a vegetable garden with Oyas.

And one learns by doing, so last year we started a tactic to regulate humidity in the soil very important as there is very little rainfall and it can be very hot or hot. So we have also started working with oyas (a method of water management used by the Romans). These save 70% of water consumption. The first results were positive so we are now continuing down this path.

This year, we will expand the vegetable garden even further, new fruit trees such as apricots, mango and the old trees will be removed, flowers planted especially to attract the bees that will take care of pollination of the fruit trees and greens. Meanwhile, we have enriched our garden soil with horse manure. In certain parts of our garden, we are starting to experiment with cardboard and straw to protect the soil from drying out due to the heat. The cardboard and straw regulate the moisture of the soil. With success because when removing the straw and tilling the soil, we find many earthworms.

Organically grown vegetables.

Pure nature no chemicals whatsoever. Meanwhile, we grow aubergines, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, fennel, leeks, potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, cabbages, …… Last year, for example, we had 100 kilos of sweet potatoes and other vegetables.

What a health crisis can bring about. The upside is that experimenting with growing fruit and vegetables has not hurt us. Not only us but also our guests at B&B Finca La Toronja can enjoy the freshly grown produce.

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