>After a rainy week…

>

Weeds around a mazet (vineyard shelter) near Roquessels:

DSC04104 DSC04108

Cucumbers and aubergines flowering and beans reaching the tops of their poles:

DSC04121-1 DSC04130 DSC04124

The tomato plants growing well, flowering and bearing small tomatoes.  All they need is some sun now. On the left are the Coeur de boeuf tomatoes, on the right the Roma plants.  We leave the side shoots to grow on the Romas because they seem to do well as bushy, short plants supported by horizontal canes along the sides of the rows.

DSC04125 DSC04128

The apricot tree (left) looks healthy with a lot of new growth, even though there is only one apricot on it, and there are apples on the apple tree.

DSC04135 DSC04138

The oleanders are a bit weighed down by the rain, but both the pink and the red are flowering.

DSC04132 DSC04134
Advertisements

>Garden bloggers’ bloom day

>

Apart from lichen and rust which I think look lovely in the spring sunlight …

DSC02245

….. we have apricot blossom just about to come out (several weeks late this year) …

DSC02216 DSC02218

…..one lone daffodil and one rather battered-looking anemone (also very late, although one anemone made the mistake of flowering in November!) …..

DSC02223 DSC02220

…. our neighbour’s almond blossom (cheating a bit, but we can see it over the fence) and the rosemary which has been flowering all winter, even when it was very cold….

DSC02242 DSC02228

That’s it for the flowers, but we’re still harvesting cabbages, salad leaves (lettuce, lamb’s lettuce and sorrel), as well as herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary, bay).

DSC02234 DSC02232

Garden bloggers’ bloom day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

>Apricot buds and a new cold frame

>

One of the good things about writing a garden blog is that I can check back and see how this year compares with last year and the year before.  Spring seems to be late this year, but looking back to last February I can see that the apricot buds are at about the same stage this year, although the daffodils are certainly later.  Last year we had daffodils in flower in time for St David’s day – that won’t happen this year.

DSC01890 DSC01892 The apricot tree should be in flower in a few days’ time.

I sowed some mangetout peas about a month ago and had almost given up hope of the plants appearing.  I thought the seeds had been washed away by some of the heavy rain we’ve had and today I decided to sow some more in the same place.  Luckily I had a close look first because I noticed that they’re coming up at last.  We’ve covered them with chicken wire because the birds seem to like them.

DSC01893 mangetout peas emerging and, right, the garlic doing well. DSC01906 DSC01901 But the daffodils are late this year.

We’ve already got two rustic-looking cold frames in the garden, but our neighbour gave us an old window so Lo Jardinièr decided to make another one – they’ll all come in useful when our pepper and cucumber plants need a bit of protection before being planted out.  He made a base of sand covered with old terracotta floor tiles, made walls with concrete blocks and rested the window on top – very simple.

DSC01904 DSC01907

While he was doing that I sowed another double row of broad beans and a row of spinach.  We lost at least three sowings of spinach to heavy rain in the autumn, each time I re-sowed them there would be another storm and no sign of spinach plants, except for a solitary one which has survived the winter.  We miss having the young spinach leaves in our salads, so we hope to grow some now before the weather gets too hot and dry. 

Today’s harvest:

DSC01909 DSC01927

Rosemary, thyme and bay, which the garden provides all through the year, whatever the weather, chard, which is just recovering from the cold weather and starting to grow again, and cabbage.

>Summer fruits / Les fruits d’été

>

Our apricots are a late variety, the tree is a Rouge de Roussillon which produces small but very tasty fruits.  We picked this year’s crop a few days ago – 49 apricots, twice as many as last year!  They are so delicious that we just eat them as they are, straight from the tree if possible.

Notre abricotier est une varieté tardive, le Rouge de Roussillon.  Il y a quelques jours nous avons cueilli la recolte de cette année – 49 abricots, deux fois la recolte de l’année dernière!  Les petits fruits ont beaucoup de gout, donc nous les mangeons directement de l’arbre si c’est possible.

DSC06861

At the same time, a neighbour harvested peaches, so we have a box of them to eat fresh and to preserve.  I made peach granita with lemon juice, which is perfect in the hot weather we’re having.

Au mème temps un voisin a cueilli des pèches, donc nous en avons un plateau pour manger et pour conserver.  J’ai fait de granita de pèche au jus de citron – c’est parfait pour le temps chaud en ce moment.

 

DSC06863 DSC06915

Courgettes, peppers and aubergines are fruits too  /  Les courgettes, les poivrons et les aubergines sont aussi des fruits

We couldn’t get our pepper plants, sown from seed, to grow this cold spring.  But now everything is catching up quickly and the plants we bought are producing peppers much earlier than last year. 

Les poivrons que nous avons semé n’ont pas poussé ce printemps froid.  Mais maintenant tout poussent très bien et nous avons des poivrons plus tôt que l’année dernière.

DSC06787

The aubergines are growing well now too, if we can only stop the insects from eating them.  These striped beetles are a real pest. / Les aubergines poussent bien aussi, si on peut les proteger des insectes comme ces scarabés.

DSC06918 DSC06921

We’re eating a lot of courgettes – as fritters, grilled on the barbecue and in cold courgette soup.  This is very easy to make and delicious: Chop three large courgettes and two sweet onions, cover with water, add salt and cook until soft.  Liquidise and chill.  Serve with yoghurt and chopped mint, or just a swirl of olive oil.

DSC06759 DSC06910

And the tomatoes  /  Et les tomates

Apart from the Yellow Pear tomatoes, they’re not ripening yet, but some look close to it.  One of the earliest to ripen will probably be this Ananas, which we grew from seed we saved last year.

À part des tomates Yellow Pears, elles ne mourissent pas encore. Les plus précoces seront les Ananas que nous avons semé des semences que nous avons gardé l’année dernière.

DSC06924

>Fire, water and the earth / Le feu, l’eau et la terre

>

DSC06650

Fire is part of the natural cycle of Mediterranean vegetation especially the garrigue, clearing the land of dead plants and making space for new growth. It is also very frightening and dangerous. On Monday we were on our way to Roquessels to buy wine and saw smoke on one of the hills near the road, just a couple of kilometres from Gabian. By the time we returned the fire had spread rapidly. We called the fire service as soon as we got home, but luckily they already knew about the fire. It took four hours for 80 fire fighters, 4 water-carrying planes and 2 small spotter planes to stop the fire, fortunately just before it reached the house in the photo below.

Le feu est une partie naturelle du cycle de la garrigue mediterranéenne. Mais c’est aussi dangereux et effrayant. Lundi nous avons vu de la fumée sur une colline près de la route de Gabian à Roquessels, à quelques kilometres du village . Sur notre retour le feu s’est étendu. 80 pompiers et 6 avions ont pris quatre heures pour l’éteindre. Heureusement le feu n’a pas atteint une maison dans la campagne.

DSC06646 DSC06654
DSC06658
Fortunately this house was saved.
DSC06662
The view from Gabian – a bit close for comfort.

The sea / La mer

DSC06680 The weather is hot but the sea hasn’t warmed up yet. It was only 16 degrees C at Le Grau d’Agde yesterday.

Le temps fait chaud mais la mer n’a pas chauffé encore. Elle n‘était que 16 degrees C au Grau d’Agde hier.

In the garden / Au jardin

DSC06692 DSC06696 DSC06695

The tomatoes are growing well and one Yellow Pear is almost ripe. / Les tomates poussent bien et une Yellow Pear est presque mûre.

DSC06698 DSC06744

Peppers and apricots – we ate the first apricot this evening, the rest will be ready in a day or so.

DSC06726 DSC06729

A swallowtail butterfly on the lavender

DSC06748

and a dragonfly near the stream. It was bright blue, but the sun was so strong the colour doesn’t show in the photo.

>May Day / Le Premier Mai

>

On our first morning back from our trip to Wales it seems as though we’ve woken up to the first day of summer. We had a very good holiday and ate excellent food – Japanese, Turkish and our own family Mediterranean mix of delicious things, but it’s wonderful to be back home again. There was rain while we were away so the garden looks very green and bright. One of our neighbours had kept an eye on it for us and thrown out the snails who’d found their way into the cold frame.

garden may_1_1_1 garden may 1_1_1

Ce matin, le premier après notre retour du Pays de Galles, est comme le premier jour de l’été. Il a plu pendant la dernière semaine et le jardin est vert et clair.

We found a huge crop of mangetout peas and broad beans / on a trouvé beaucoup de pois mangetout et fèves . . .

mangetout_1_1 broad beans_1_1

the apricots and artichokes growing well / les abricots et les artichauts poussent bien . . .

apricots may 1_1_1 artichokes_1_1

the garden full of the sound of birds and insects / le jardin plein du chant d’oiseau et d’insectes . . .

moth 1 moth crop_1

I thought that this one was a moth at first. Now I think it’s a butterfly but I still can’t identify it. Please leave a comment if you have any idea what it might be.

The pepper plants are still growing very slowly and I think we may have to buy plants but the tomato plants are ready to be planted out so we have a busy weekend ahead!

Les poivrons poussent très lentement encore et je pense qu’il faut en acheter des plantes, mais les tomates sont prêtes à planter donc le weekend sera chargé!

>Sun and rain / Le soleil et la pluie

>

We had several days of heavy rain and then went away for a couple of days, so we’ve come home to find that the weeds have grown …

Après quelques jours de pluie forte nous sommes partis pour deux jours, donc nous sommes revenus à trouver que les mauvaises herbes ont poussé …

but so have the apricots / mais aussi les abricots:

apricots1_1_2_1

and the mangetout peas are flowering, as pretty as sweet peas / et les petit pois mangetous fleurissent, aussi jolies que les pois de senteur:

mangetout flower1_1 mangetout flower2_1_1

>Warm enough for a lizard / Assez chaud pour un lézard

>

lizard_1 Suddenly it’s spring and the lizards are out in the sun …

 

Tout à coup, c’est le printemps et les lézards sortent au soleil …

 

 

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

Last month I was away on the 15th so I missed it, and we didn’t have many blooms in the garden anyway.  This month is much more colourful:

Le mois dernier je n’étais pas chez moi le 15, et il n’y avait pas des fleurs au jardin.  Aujourd’hui il y a beaucoup plus de couleur:

anemone1_1_1
anemones …
apricot blossom_1_1
apricot blossom / fleurs d’abricotier …
aubretia1_1_1
aubretia …
daffodils2_1 
daffodils / les narcisses ….
grape hyacinth1_1_1_1
and grape hyacinths / et les muscaris.
grape hyacinth2_1_1_1

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Moules gratinées

On Friday at an otherwise excellent restaurant in Agde, I ordered moules gratinées and was shocked to find when they arrived that they were huge, green-shelled creatures which I knew don’t grow near here.  I asked the waiter and he said that they came from New Zealand!  Although he added that they used local mussels for moules marinières.  Agde is only about 10 km from the nearest mussel beds in the Bassin de Thau.  These New Zealand mussels had suffered from their long journey and months in the freezer – they were tough and tasteless.  How sad, because apart from this the food was good at this family-run restaurant on the quayside, where the woman chef came to our table and explained her ratatouille recipe in great detail – and it was the best ratatouille we’d ever had in a restaurant, as good as we make at home!

Vendredi j’ai commandé des moules gratinées dans un restaurant à Agde et j’ai été étonnée de trouver qu’elles sont des grandes moules au coquilles vertes qui ne viennent pas d’ici.  Elles sont venues de la Nouvelle-Zélande.  Agde n’est que 10 kilometres du Bassin de Thau.  Cettes moules ont souffert de leur voyage long et les mois qu’elles ont passé au congelateur.

At home tonight, I made moules gratinées (garlic, parsley, white wine, bread crumbs, grated cheese and a little paprika) with mussels from Bouzigues and they were delicious:

Chez nous ce soir j’ai fait les moules gratinées – les moules de Bouzigues à l’ail, persil, vin blanc, chapelure, fromage rapé et un peu de piment doux – et elles sont delicieuses:

moules gratinees 2_1_1

Followed by Lo Jardinièr’s chard and goats’ cheese tart:

chard   goats' cheese tart_1_1

In the garden / Au jardin

celery_1_1_1 new artichoke_1_1

We planted out 10 celery plants from seed given to us by Kate.  I sowed the seed in October and they have grown very slowly on the windowsill through the cold weather.  They’re doing well now, though.  Thanks, Kate!  The artichoke plant on the right is supposed to be the same variety as its bigger neighbour – Violet de Provence.  I can’t remember whether the others had similar smooth-edged leaves when they were small.

>Spraying Bordeaux mixture / La bouillie bordelaise

>

Bordeaux mixture (copper sulphate) is a treatment against fungus and other diseases which is permitted in organic agriculture and horticulture. It is used on the vines here in the Languedoc and in other vine-growing areas and perhaps because it’s so commonly used in the vineyards gardeners in Gabian use it on a wide range of plants: fruit trees, olive trees, roses, potatoes.

La bouillie bordelaise est un traitement contre les maladies qui est permis dans l’agriculture biologique. Les viticulteurs du Languedoc et les autres régions vigneronnes la mettent sur les vignes et ici à Gabian les jardiniers la utilisent pour les arbres fruitiers, les oliviers, les pommes de terre, les rosiers etc.

It must be used at least 14 days before harvesting and for fruit trees the best time is in spring before the fruits form. I’ve been waiting for a calm day to spray our trees and although today wasn’t completely still there was less wind than there has been for the last couple of weeks.

Il faut traiter les plantes et les arbres au moins 14 jours avant la récolte et pour les arbres fruitiers le meilleur temps est le printemps. J’attendais une journée calme pour vaporiser la bouillie bordelaise sur nos arbres. Aujoud’hui il y avait moins de vent qu’on a eu les dernières deux semaines.

bordelaise 1_1_1 bordelaise 2_1_1

The powder and the liquid once it’s mixed with water are a lovely deep blue colour which makes the leaves and flowers look pretty ….

olive leaves_1_1
olive leaves / les feuilles d’olivier
polka dot blossom 3_1_1
and polka-dot apricot blossom / et les fleurs d’abricotier à pois.

Chorizo and chickpeas / Chorizo et pois chiches

chorizo_1_1 chirozo and chickpeas_1_1

After a hard morning’s work in the garden we were ready for lunch and I made a quick stew of tinned chickpeas and some little chorizo sausages which we’d bought in the market earlier, with garlic, thyme, tomato passata, a glass of red wine and a green sweet onion.

Après le travail du matin au jardin on était prêt pour le déjeuner. J’ai préparé un ragout express des pois chiches et des petits chorizos qu’on a acheté sur le marché ce matin, avec de l’ail, du thym, de la purée de tomates, un verre de vin rouge et un oignon doux.

Tomato and pepper sowings update / mise à jour des semences de tomates et de poivrons

tomato seedlings 11-3_1_1_1

The tomato seedlings enjoying the sun on the balcony – when they have two true leaves we’ll transplant them into individual pots. / Les petits plants de tomate au soleil au balcon – quand ils auront deux vraies feuilles nous les repiquerons en petits pots individuels.

pepper seedlings_1_1

The pepper seeds germinated very quickly on our heated seed-starter box. The Corno di toro, Nardello, Kolaska, Lipstick and Italian Red Marconi germinated in about 7-8 days. The Kandil dolma and the Spanish long pepper (seeds given to us by our neighbour) have been slower but are showing signs of germinating now. / Les semences de poivron ont germé très vite sur le boîte chauffée: 7-8 jours pour: Corno di toro, Nardello, Kolaska, Lipstick et Italian Red Marconi. Les semence de Kandil dolma et long d’Espagne (ce dernier de notre voisin) commencent a germer maintenant.

rosemary   daffodils_1_1

>Bees at work / Les abeilles travaillent

>

The apricot is blossoming … / L’abricotier fleurit …

apricot_1
Wednesday …
apricot blossom bud_2 Friday …. apricot blossom bud 3_1
Sunday ….
apricot blossom 4_1
Monday ….

And the bees are at work …. / Et les abeilles travaillent …

bee on apricot_1 bee on apricot 3_1

Lo Jardinièr has laid some paving in front of our bench, using recycled tiles. / Lo Jardinièr a mis des carreaux recyclés devant notre banc.

tiles 1_1_1

The anemones are starting to flower. / Les anemones commencent à fleurir.

anemones_1