Now we just need some sun and warm weather (and maybe a natural solution to ward off the slugs)…
Posts Tagged ‘Gardening’
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?
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:
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.
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?
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
2 spring onions
120 grams feta or brebis cheese, crumbled
Bunch of basil leaves
Black olives, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
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!
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?
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…
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!
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…
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!
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!
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!
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!
Well, contrary to last week when I started Jardinage Jeudi, temperatures have dramatically declined and it has been tipping it down, so I’ve not been in the mood for gardening. I did mention in my last post that my lack of talent in the gardening department is probably due to the fact that I am a fair-weather gardener.
My Belle-Mere told me last weekend that its normal for cold spells to arrive in May, and that until the Saints de Glace (11th, 12th and 13th May) are finished we are still at risk of frost and traditionally you’re supposed to avoid planting anything sensitive until afterwards. Ah well, if I’d known that before…
Looking at Pissou’s blog, we’re getting off lightly in Lyon compared to other places. Check out the photos of the snow that she had on May 4th – unbelievable, somebody tell the weather we’re in May for goodness sakes!
So, not being very keen on the gardening this week I have turned my attention to improving my comfort in the garden and stuff that can be grown indoors.
On a previous visit to the Beaux-Parents (BP), Hubby and I spotted a lovely outdoor sofa suite, complete with cushions and all. The price was right (and so much cheaper than anything I had seen over the past two years) but the location was not. Not too worried about how we would get it from Provence to Lyon, we bought it and had it delivered to the BP’s house. We weren’t feeling quite so smart this weekend when we were confronted with an absolute mammoth box! How we were going to get that back to Lyon was another question entirely.
Hubby as always, was full of bright ideas and eventually we set off, in gale force winds, with a sofa and a table on the roof and the rest of the chairs in the car. Fearful of being stopped by the police on the motorway (and also for ours and other drivers’ safety) we set off on a long drive home, Nationale 7 all the way. Despite the bad weather, it made for a nice change and the scenery was lovely (I of course was not driving so could fully take in my surroundings). If it wasn’t for having a sofa on the roof and for fear of having it nicked if we stopped (yep, I am too used to living in a city now) I would have loved to have stopped at some of the vineyards and quaint little villages we crossed along our way.
The whole experience reminded me somewhat of the Maghrebin families that return to their home countries with plenty of goods for their families in the summer. You often see them on the motorways with loads as big as their cars tied to their roofs and I’ve often wondered how long it would take them to arrive at destination. They are certainly determined people and it must take a lot of courage and patience to go all that way with that much stuff on the roof.
Anyway, the outdoor suite is now back safely and installed in our garden. Unfortunately it hasn’t stopped raining for long enough for us to sit on and enjoy it, but it looks like it may stop in time for the weekend, so fingers crossed…
A big thank you to Gillpj and Rosabell who helped me in identifying my flowers last week. They are looking a bit worse for wear after all the bad weather but I am confident that now I know what they are I should be able to grow them successfully. I guess only time and TLC will tell! On Rosabell’s recommendation I have even purchased a new hanging basked (PIC) for my ‘special geraniums’ officially called Tirol Geranium. I will be waiting until the weather improves though before re-planting!
So, onto what’s been growing inside. A few weeks ago I planted some Basil seeds in yoghurt pots, in the hope that they would grow big enough for me to be able to plant them outside with the tomato plants. I did this last year and had three lovely Basil plants. This year is not proving to be as successful though, unfortunately my cats got at the seedlings last weekend and I only have two little spurts of a plant left! They obviously preferred the taste of Basil plants to their cat biscuits! I guess I’ll be planting some more soon.
Here’s hoping the sun comes back out in time for the weekend so I can get back in the garden.