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Archive for the ‘Jardinage Jeudi’ Category

Gardening. It’s something I come back to time and time again and now that I have a lovely (and huge) garden I really do want to create a haven rather than just a field. However, it must be stated that I do not have green hands, the only time they’re green is when they’re physically green from either grass stains or playing with paint with Little Piglet. So I really do have a serious handicap and quite often any free time is spent looking at the garden wondering where to start!

So far this year I have managed to successfully plant (and keep alive) 35 laurel tree cuttings and some strawberries.

Not so lucky were my Oliver tree, Oleander bush and Japanese Maple tree all of which died throughout the winter.

Desperately clinging on now is my pear tree, I believe it is in trouble and I’m not sure what to do with it. I really hope that one you will be able to help identify what is wrong with it and maybe suggest a treatment please? I tried Traitement Totale (total treatment) spray last week and it doesn’t look any better for itself but maybe that is normal?

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Last summer I frequently reported on my attempts to grow various plants and vegetables from my city garden in Lyon, I named the posts “Jardinage Jeudi” which was quite appropriate as I managed to get in the garden once a week, usually on a Thursday!

I’ve been a bit slow in discovering my new garden in rural France. To be honest the weather has been absolutely dreadful, either raining and cold or far too hot. Either way, I’ve preferred to hang out indoors with Baby Piglet in order to stay dry or too stay cool.

There’s plenty to do in the garden as it looks a bit like a glorified field with a few trees right now. Not quite an idyllic country garden although we do have some pretty awesome fruit trees including two apple trees and a peach tree:

Our red apple tree

Peach tree

Vines

Grapes

Not really knowing where to start and with no real budget so to speak, I’ve decided to start off with the vegetable patches. At least I should be able to grow some produce then I can save myself money on food and hopefully buy a few plants to start my hedge.

We have three raised patches which I have to weed first. The weeds here are tough and grow back just as soon as I have finished. I guess the rain isn’t helping as everything is growing really quick.

Good heavens! Look at those weeds!

Some marigolds I found amongst the weeds

Now only if it would stop raining long enough for me to finish...

I plan to plant celery, radishes, parsnips, rutabaga and onions to start off with. They were the only things that I could find to plant at this time of year – thankfully they are all things I enjoy and I would be pretty chuffed if the parsnips worked out as I have such a tough time buying them here.

Before planting though I need to finish weeding and then turn the soil, mixing some fertilizer at the same time.

I don’t suppose anyone has any tips on growing any of these vegetables by any chance please? What else are you planting at this time of year in your vegetable patch?

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Last weekend, whilst melting in extreme temperatures of 39 degrees, I ate a yummy courgette salad at my Beaux-Parents house. Unfortunately I didn’t think to get the recipe and finding myself with an abundance of courgettes today, I thought I’d try my hand at making my own version of it. Without knowing the original recipe I combined some of the ingredients that I’d remembered tasting along with some that I thought would taste nice; notably basil as I’d bought a huge bouquet of basil leaves for just 75 Cents!

Courgette & Feta Salad
Serves 4

Not very well presented but very tasty!


3 courgettes
2 spring onions
120 grams feta or brebis cheese, crumbled
Bunch of basil leaves
Black olives, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar

What to do:
1. Peel the courgettes as the skin can be quite bitter, not quite what you want in a salad!
2. Then grate the courgettes finely, like you would cheddar.
3. Finely slice the spring onions and add to the courgettes.
4. Finely slice the basil leaves and add to the courgettes.
5. Crumble the feta cheese and add.
6. Remove the stones and then finely slice the black olives adding as well.
7. Drizzle everything with olive oil, add a splash (or two!) of vinegar and then season to taste.

Et voila! A different type of salad which you can enjoy on its own (maybe with parma ham?) or as an accompaniment to a summer Barbeque. Bon appetit!

What you need to do

Jardinage Jeudi
Tonight I’m going to have a tomato and runner bean salad with some tomatoes from my garden! After months of waiting and anticipating, I’m finally getting a regular (if not small) crop. I’m only getting a handful at a time and as you can see they’re coming in all sizes. Who else is getting their tomatoes right now?

Tomatoes at last!

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At last! I have my first tomatoes! I ate my very first one yesterday, it was teeny tiny, but oh boy was it juicy and sweet. I hope the others hurry up, as I think my plants have got mildew again (any suggestions?) so I hope they all grow and ripen before the plants die…

Fire!
Last night, Hubby & I were relaxing in the garden and could smell what we thought was a BBQ. Immensely jealous we went in and tucked into a salad all the while wishing we were enjoying a BBQ too. A little while later, we heard sirens and then a hell of a cuffaful in the street. As I’m Mrs Nosey we went to investigate and were met by two bright red fire engines, firemen and water everywhere. The house opposite ours was on fire and the street was all cordoned off. Spectators were standing around gawping everywhere. I would have loved to get the camera out and take a few pictures to share here but it just didn’t seem right as the poor family were standing in the street full of despair.

Full of curiosity, I checked out the news this morning and learned that the fire had been caused by a chip pan. The poor people it makes me glad that I own an Actifry.

This is the second fire we’ve had here in six months. The last one was the house at the back of ours and I watched flames rise above our courtyard for an hour before they managed to put it out. That fire was caused by an electric radiator.

In both instances the houses were ruined and had to be completely renovated. Smoke detectors are quite rare in France and I don’t think either of homes had them installed. There seem to be a lot of fires here, two in six months is more than I have ever experienced in my life so far (fingers crossed I will not experience any more!). I really think that the government should campaign for people to install smoke detectors – it would be money well spent!

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Where I'd be sitting with a glass of wine - if it was sunny!

I’m feeling really sorry for myself today. The blasted miserable weather has given me the flu (or more likely a chill) and I was up all night coughing so I’m a sniveling, tired, miserable piglet today…

What’s more, Hubby has re-baptized me as Mrs Nosey…

When I was a child my parents called our neighbour Mrs Nosey as she always had her nose in other people’s business. For some reason we had taken a real dislike to her. So much so, that when the Autumn leaves started to fall, my brothers and I would spend hours painstakingly collecting all the leaves that had fallen into our garden and heave them over the fence, kindly depositing them in her garden. The poor woman must have wondered on many occasions how come she had so many leaves! I can’t remember why this came about but I do remember our dislike for this women and I would dread to think that someone would think I’m the same.

So fast forward to the present and Hubby’s calling Mrs Nosey! Humph. Not something I entirely agree with but I’ll let you judge objectively whether oui, or non, I’ve turned into Mrs Nosey.

Yesterday was our third wedding anniversary and we went out for a nice meal at lunch time to celebrate to a Thai restaurant that I’d been longing to try for a while. I’d already been to the post box (oh in the morning and had seen two blonde women loitering around carrying brightly coloured folders. Our Rue is not a place where you can really wait for anyone or where you can justify loitering; there are no shops in the immediate vicinity of our front door and the only café/restaurant nearby is 40 metres walk so you wouldn’t be standing by our door if you were there.

After a lovely meal and feeling full to the brim we returned home 3 hours later and I was surprised to see the same two women there. Even more curious was the fact that they had been joined by a third woman and were still in the same place! My suspicion was further aroused and I edged Hubby on to go and ask them what they were doing as we have had some funny going ons in the neighbourhood in the last few years (a man tried to commit suicide, a building fire, major electricity cuts, numerous road accidents, flying pizza, flying soup…oh the joys of city life!).

After much debate on his side (and not wanting to ask) I eventually convinced him by telling him something serious could be happening like the old lady next door dying and a big property developer wanting to build a huge block of student flats and he would regret it if he didn’t ask. Or that they could be spying for a gang of burglars or looking for places that were vacant for squatters.

So off he ventured into the Rue and the conversation went something like this:

Hubby: What are you doing in the street? We saw you about three hours ago with your folder and you’re still there, so we were wondering what you were doing?

Blonde Lady: We were at a singing recital with another school parent who lives there (points to adjacent building and general feeling of uncomfortableness reigns)

Hubby: Oh I see, I thought maybe you were looking for a property, our neighbours an estate agent so I was seeing if maybe he could help…

Talk about thinking on your feet! I was very impressed by Hubby, especially when Blonde Lady gave him all of her details etc, oh what a charmer!

So now, I am called Mrs Nosey. Part of me thinks that if he hadn’t been concerned too then he wouldn’t have gone and asked. Do I really merit this new name?

Jardinage Jeudi
Onto the garden… I’ve had numerous requests not to give up on Jardinage Jeudi completely – apparently some of you like watching my tomatoes grow one by one! So, I’m going to try and find a happy medium starting from today and will post when anything happens on a Thursday from now.

So, today I can report that the monotonous days of solid rain reminiscent of the weather we had in the UK (which drove Hubby mad) have resulted in a very green garden. Here are some artistic photos for you:

View from the bedroom to the right

View from bedroom from left / straighton

View from the grass towards the house

View from the strawberry wall to the dining table

And these photos are HUGGGGEEEEE! If anyone has the technical know-how on how to change a photo once I’ve uploaded it to WordPress, please please let me know and I will make them smaller!

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Another week, another Thursday and I’m seriously running out of things to say about my garden. The weather is still awful (typically British, let’s chat about the weather!), summer does not know if it wants to come or go – maybe the Witch-In-Law could cast a spell so it stays sunny, I’m sure she prefers the sun to rain anyway!

This will be the last of my weekly updates, as I’m sure no-one wants to see each of my tomatoes or strawberries as they grow (although I find it extremely fascinating!). I’ll update on Thursday’s from time to time if there’s anything to report but will save you from boredom in the meantime…

So, what’s new in my garden? The tomatoes are finally growing but need some serious sun SOON to make them ripen:

The Geranium’s are in full bloom and look lovely. We got them as a mossie repellent but have not yet been able to test their efficacity as it’s been too horrible to sit outside!

The basil has grown too since the cat debacle. Well, actually we planted some more (the small ones) and quite a lot seem to have grown. Now we’re just waiting for the weather to settle and then they’ll be planted outside with tomato plants.

Finally, another plant which I’m not sure what it is is starting to flower. It didn’t do any flowers last year so it’s a minor miracle as far as I’m concerned. Can anyone help in identifying please? I thinks it’s called an Olliander but am not sure!

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Blog Birthday!

So, time flies. It really does. This week marks the one year anniversary of Piglet in France and my first tentative steps into the blogosphere. What a world to discover! A year on I’m totally hooked!

Thank you for coming here over the past year and for sharing your stories with me, it has been an enjoyable period and I have ‘cyber met’ a lot of nice people here. I have been astounded by the kindness of those who follow me and surprised that anyone even wants to read about the trivia I write about. I hope it continues for a long time in the future and I look forward to maybe meeting you in real life one day!

Some of my favourite posts from the early days:
French Kitchens
Lettre Recommandée

Jardinage Jeudi

The sun has come back, hooray! I’ve become a bit bored of the garden over the last week, probably due to the bad weather, but now the sun is back I’m looking at it with renewed interest, seeing what I can plant and what needs tidying up.

I will be sowing my parsnip seeds soon (I think I’m a bit late but nevermind, it’s worth a try) as I find it hard to find parsnips here and Hubby and I love nothing more than roasted parsnips in winter.

The seeds will be going in a large container which I grew runner beans in last year, but have failed to produce even a green shoot this year. I think it will be strange to grow a root vegetable in a container and I’m not even sure that it will work, but I’m going to fill it with soil right up to the top and we will see!

I was once lucky to find parsnips in our local vegetable store (called Marche Provencale for some strange reason – we are not in Provence!) and stood in a queue one Sunday morning for more than 30 minutes waiting to pay for them (there were a lot of people shopping and the till was also the cheese counter).

It was an interesting experience as the Mamie in front of me and the younger fashionista behind me were both intrigued by these strange looking, carrotish vegetables in my panier. They asked me all about them and I explained how I cooked them and gave them recipes (okay, told them how to roast them!). They both ended up leaving with parsnips!

For some reason parsnips are pretty much unknown in France, a lot of people will look at them and won’t know what they are, yet alone what they’re called. For a country that has so much diversity in it’s food and such lovely markets where one can purchase fresh produce, it seems strange that this lowly vegetable is so widely unknown.

I’m really hoping my parsnips grow and that I’ll have a good crop this winter so that I can feed my friends and family lots of yummy parsnips!

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Blooming Berries!

All the recent rain has done wonders for my garden. Sitting in it now, it looks like a pot jungle – all my flowers have taken and are doing wonderfully. A true array of pinks, reds and whites dotted around the garden in terracotta (or whatever I could find) pots, not to mention the blues of the forget-me-nots.

I think some of the success is due to Hubby’s installation of an automatic watering system. Certainly it rained a lot (and I mean a lot!) before we left for our holiday, but I believe last week was quite dry and yet the garden is thriving without me watching over it.

My strawberries are doing wonderfully. I truly didn’t expect to be able to eat them yet – when I left they were so tiny and white and now they are great big bright red, ripe berries beckoning me over to eat them! Yummy!

Strawberries

Strawberries

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No gardening for me this week, I’m on holiday! Thanks to a lot of luck, I managed to fly from Geneva to Faro, Portugal last Saturday for a much needed week of sun and total relaxtion. I’ll leave you to enjoy some snaps of Earth’s garden taken with my iPhone (so please excuse the quality) this week:

Arrifana Beach

Arrifana Beach

Racing Pigeon who came looking for food and drink

Another Beach!

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Jardinage Jeudi

Yet another week of crap weather has come and gone and yet another week of no gardening for me. The grass is sodden and needs to be cut and the plants all look as if their swamped in water. In fact, the garden is beginning to look like a swamp rather than a romantic courtyard where one can relax with a nice glass of chilled rose.

My re-potting plans are put on hold and I can’t say that I’ve been enjoying my garden. In fairness, I did say I was a fair-weather gardener in my first JJ post so it is only to be expected that I have nothing to report when it has been raining all week long!

However, the rain has made for some interesting progress in the garden; My tomato plants are growing second to none and the strawberries are everywhere. In a very bored moment I decided to count how many strawberries were growing – I got up to 106 and then stopped counting. Now all we need is for the sun to come out and make the things turn red!!!

Tomato Plants

A plant I have had for a long time now is a Rhododendron which my parents gave me when they left England and which I then subsequently moved to France. I’m told that it’s over 20 years old and I have memories of it looking lovely when I was much younger, but it has looked like this for at least the last 4 years:

Why I ask? I have given it flower food and fertilizer but it won’t move. See those buds? I’m not sure but I think they were there last year so I’m not entirely confident that I will have flowers this year. I really don’t want to risk killing this plant as it’s been in the family a long time now, but I am at a loss as to what to do with it. Any suggestions welcome!

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