The vegetable garden of the albergue is an continuous project and the main goal is to obtain organically certified vegetabels from the garden. The climate is dificult, a lot of rain and if sunny, burning hot. The variations of the temperature from day to night are big. We are located in a forest at around 750 metres above sea level. This doesn’t sound as ideal, and the first years have been a big learning curve. To feed hungry pilgrims and volunteers, we are trying to concentrate on what is needed in the kitchen and on what the garden is apt for.

We have a big field that was used for potatoes and repollo (family of the Brussels sprouts), which was apt for creating beds and fairly leveled. After trying several vegetables, with different results, we opted to use one of the terraces that had been used as vegetable garden for sun needing vegetables, like tomatoes and aubergines, but overgrown for 30 to 40 years. After preparing the soil and cultivating, we obtained a fairly good result at the end of last season.

So, what are the vegetables that we are growing? For the kitchen we need many vegetables, as it is the main component of the pilgrims menu. At the moment we are growing in limited quantities:
– salad
– carrots
– pumpkins
– courgettes
– onions
– garlic
– tomatoes
– green peppers
– strawberries
– kiwis
– beatroot
– leek

And looking ahead we plan to grow in bigger quantities and adding brocoli, cauliflower, potatoes, turnips.

As we don’t use any chemicals, we planted different flowers and herbs in the garden, like salvia, rosemary, mint, and take advantage of exisiting herbs like nettles for making a nice soup.

To grow organic is that limiting us or creating options and directions? Out of principle we wanted to grow all our vegetables organically and make our own compost. To get there we were not able to start with fertilisers or use of mechanised preparation of the soil. This initially results in less vegetables, but will, in the long term, provides us with healthy and high nutritional value vegetables. The more we work in the garden the more we learn that what to do is actually just following what nature indicates. Creating your own compost is a big challenge, as we don’t have a closed cycle, as the human manure we cannot use. This while the pilgrims only stay one night and their manure is not from the food thay ate at our place and the risks involved with medicins used by the pilgrims, that could end up in our food chain. So, we use all kitchen remains and use the forest for adquiring compost and fertile soil for the vegetables.

 

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