As IAAC’s Valldaura Labs and Master in Advanced Ecological Buildings & Biocities (MAEBB) class of 2022/23, we have begun another yearly garden. Within the Agroecology course we started in October with a new autumn-winter rotation. The fresh seeds and saplings were planted and transplanted at the start of October and are still regularly maintained and cared for. Different crops were already harvested since December.

The Roots group is responsible for five beds of the garden in which we decided to grow the following:

  • R11: Leeks, Carrots, Purple Carrots
  • R12: Radishes, Onions, Leeks 
  • R13: Beetroots, Onions
  • R14: Beetroots, Onions 
  • R15: Potatoes 
Preparing the beds, planting the crops, maintaining the farms and harvesting the crops

R11: Leeks, Carrots, Purple Carrots

The leeks were transplanted from saplings while both varieties of carrots were grown directly from the seeds. The Leeks and the carrots grew to ideal standards while the purple carrots failed to grow. This difference could stem from the package of purple carrot seeds being left open for a long time before sowing and possibly going bad.

R12: Radishes, Onions, Leeks

The leeks and onions were transplanted from saplings while the radishes were like the carrots grown directly from the seeds. The radishes grew really well and were harvested multiple times. The leeks and onions also grew to the ideal standards.

R13+14: Beetroots, Onions

The beetroots and onions were both transplanted from saplings. The onions flourished so the green parts were already harvested multiple times, while the beetroots had a significantly slower growth rate and a subpar quality and low produce at the time of harvest.

R15: Potatoes

The potatoes were grown using a homemade test through cutting potatoes in half and embedding them into the soil. Over time these grew beautifully to provide a significant harvest of farm fresh potatoes. However, half the bed was attacked by the wild bores who also feasted on the harvest.

As shown in our diagrams, we demonstrate how our research guided us towards planting certain plants together because they nourish and support each other while growing, such as leaks and carrots. 

The Roots beds have nourished many of us, starting with the quickly grown radishes which were gratefully consumed in our daily salads and as bread topping. Sadly the boars attacked among others also our beds, the first time they ignored the potatoes, while the second time, they devoured them. Following this attack, we took the initiative to rebuild and strengthen the fences in the hope to keep the boars out. These efforts were short lived as they succeeded in their efforts to break into the farms followed closely by their friend the fox. It was observed that all the animals entered with the intention of getting to the compost pit and subsequently proceeded to hamper the plant beds. 

As amateur farmers, we have started our procedure in quite a scientific manner, considering the depth of sowing for each plant ( 1 cm for beetroots, 0.5 to 1 cm for carrots, 15 cm for leek, 6-8 cm for potatoes), the sapling distance, the space which should be between each plant as well as the amount of sun and water that each needs. However, later on we noticed that the process is very intuitive and gains a lot from observing what is happening in the beds over time. Watering, de-weeding and tending them in the end, is the most important task. 

What began through meticulous observation and actions, quickly developed into an intuitive understanding of how the plants grow and how we should take care of them.