Holistic gardening pays off at Christmas

– a healthy, gastronomic and economic Christmas lunch

By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe practical holistic self sufficient gardeners, authors and broadcasters living in Spain for over twenty years.

Spanish holistic gardening

If you delve into the archives of this site you will find two important articles based on the way we have developed our garden and allotment. Firstly under July 2007 you will find an article entitled Holistic gardening in Spain based on our model of holistic or total gardening first published on page 24 of our now best selling book Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain and secondly under August 2007 another about our concept of Slow Gardening. The emphasis has been to become as self sufficient as we can by producing a diversity of ecologically grown edible flowers, herbs, vegetables, fruit, eggs and meat within a colourful cottage style mini botanic garden environment using self sustainable methods and at the same time meeting the Slow Food edicts of eating artisan foods produced as close to the user as possible. Our Christmas turkey only had to move twenty metres from run to oven.

From the garden to the Christmas table

When we first produced a Christmas lunch in Spain twenty years ago most was purchased from the then self sufficient exporting valley. Now most of the agricultural and grazing land has been abandoned for building , because of low producer and prices and lack of interest of today’s fathers and sons. So if we didn’t have our own produce we would have had to travel considerable distances gathering together largely industrially produced foodstuffs many of which would not have been ecologically grown. Most of Spain’s ecologically grown products being exported.

So luckily this year we can dine on a diversity of ecological home grown produce.

  • Fresh vegetables.
  • Fresh and dried fruits.
  • Herbs for Christmas stuffings and morning infusions
  • A home reared turkey fed with excess produce from the vegetable plot and selected kitchen waste.
  • Fresh eggs from our three laying hens.
  • Dried fruits and nuts from summer/autumn crops for preparing the Christmas pudding and mince meat and as snacks with a festive warmed mulled wine and to give us energy for a long new years day walk in the mountains.
  • Dried mandarin slices dipped in chocolate for the end of festive dinners. Other chocolates made from grapes filled with rosemary flowers soaked in home made liquors and also drunken dried raspberries and tomatoes.
  • As yet no home made wine but we have prepared fruit, herb and nut flavoured after dinner liquors and wines. An excellent liquor can be made from cactus fruit. But we will drink eco wines produced at a friends vineyard where we have helped with grape harvest. With luck our own young vines will yield our own vintage within a few years.
  • Virgin olive oil from olives we helped harvest. Our own recently restored previously abandoned olive grove should produce the same in two years time.
  • Pickled and salted olives from our two original trees.

Yes it’s taken some effort but gardening in Spain is rewarding and we have avoided the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and the exorbitant seasonal prices for some of the essential ingredients for a traditional Christmas lunch.

Have a look at our books. They could help you do likewise next year.

© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe December 2008.