Life in the organic vegetable garden of Podere il Casale
Let’s find out what happens in our garden in these first spring weeks
At Podere il Casale we produce a large variety of products which form the basis of our cuisine. In fact, in our organic garden, we produce all the vegetables you find in the dishes. It’s called the Farm to Table philosophy, which allows us to bring to the table only seasonal, natural products that arrive at perfect ripeness.
Podere il Casale is a farm located in the heart of the Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004, where Ulysses and Sandra have decided to live since 1991. They had a dream: to achieve food independence capable of guaranteeing the production of good food , clean and fair, for the family and for future guests. The dream has come true and within our farm everything revolves around the preservation of nature and the creation of a circular and sustainable economy.
Thanks to our organic vegetable garden, where the principles of organic and biodynamic agriculture are applied, we can have our fruit and vegetables at km 0, completely natural and in season. Let’s find out more about what happens in the garden in the first weeks of spring.
Biodynamic agriculture: let’s clarify
Here we use the principles of organic and biodynamic agriculture to optimize the relationship between soil and crops. In Italy it has only made its way in the last few decades, but not everyone knows that biodynamic agriculture was born in the 1920s thanks to the German philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner. The principles of biodynamic agriculture are biodiversity and crop rotation, the observation of the lunar phases and planetary cycles in sowing and cultivation, the use of “preparations”, i.e. self-produced biodynamic composts for fertilization, and the prohibition to use chemicals.
Thanks to this respect for our territory, our crops are healthy and very tasty!
Hunger Gap: what it means and which vegetables are present in the garden
This period of the year is called this in jargon, meaning period of hunger, because the crops have been planted in the garden but most of them are still growing.
However, we can still find leafy vegetables such as spinach, chard, green chicory and some varieties of salad in these first weeks of spring. Furthermore, leeks, Brussels sprouts and spring onions make our garden full of natural antioxidant foods, perfect for defending ourselves against seasonal ailments.
The daily routine: from the warm bed to our leaf compost
Although our garden is not yet at full capacity, our Benito still has a lot to do! Every day we need to check the young plants in the greenhouse, which grow thanks to the heat of our warm bed, a sort of blanket made with the fermented manure of our animals. Fermenting manure heats up, reaching the perfect temperature for germinating crops such as our tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and basil. Our crops can thus grow in the warmth, and once the temperatures are milder they will be transferred outside. Benito controls the temperature of the hot bed, which must remain around 18°-20°, as well as the one in the various points of the greenhouse. Depending on the humidity present, it will be watered in order to ensure perfect growth.
Once the test in the greenhouse is over, we move on to checking the garden to remove weeds and monitor the growth of our baby salad seedlings and artichokes, which will be ready in a few days. The seedlings are transplanted and the level of parasites is checked throughout the garden to prevent them from eating all our good vegetables!
In strictly necessary cases, pyrethrins are used, i.e. the only natural insecticide allowed in organic practice. Pyrethrum or natural pyrethrin has insecticidal properties deriving from the flowers of Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium, a particular species of chrysanthemum also called Dalmatian pyrethrum, and therefore can protect our crops in a totally natural way.
Finally, Benito dedicates himself daily to watering our compost leaves, a very important element for the ecosystem of our garden.
By imitating the perfection of what already exists in Nature, we have created our own compound of leaves, yeasts and molds by creating layers of yeasts, potato starch, and dry leaves that are continuously watered. This compound recreates the mycelium of mushrooms, an extraordinary plant communication network (recent studies have shown that the mycelium is used by plants to exchange “information” and nutrients). Thanks to this compost, our soil has a greater capacity to absorb nutrients, making it perfect for the growth of our seedlings.
After preparing the ground for the next crops, Benito collects any vegetables ready to be enjoyed at our farm to table restaurant or that you will find in our farm shop!