>What a difference a day makes ….

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Yesterday it rained for twenty-four hours:

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I can see this chimney from our top-floor window and it tells me whether or not there will be rain – if the wind is coming from the south the clouds come over the sea and we usually have rain, although not always as heavy as this. If the wind comes from the north, the smoke is blown the other way and we have dry weather because the rain from any clouds which do appear has already fallen in the mountains inland.

Today was almost spring-like, with warm sunshine and a north wind silvering the leaves of the olive trees at the edge of this vineyard at the top of the hill above our garden:

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In the garden most of the plants had survived the cold nights well:

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Spanish habas (left), 2nd sowing of broad beans (far left) and first sowing of broad beans above.
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This almond tree looks a lot better against a blue sky, rather than last week’s grey one, even though it won’t have blossom for another couple of weeks. First signs of spring: a mimosa tree in a sheltered garden in the village has yellow flower buds about to open. The almond blossom usually follows very soon afterwards.





Haiti earthquake

The catastrophic events in Haiti have been on my mind for the past few days – how can one small country have to put up with so many disasters and problems? There seems so little that individuals can do but we can donate towards the aid effort at the websites of the British Red Cross, the American Red Cross or the French organisation Action Contre la Faim.

>Cold, cold, cold …

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Snow fell here yesterday – a rare occurrence, just light showers of snowflakes drifting down on the freezing north wind.

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In the garden this morning we found a few little pockets of snow remaining amongst the straw we put around the broad beans to protect them. The broad bean plants look a bit sad. They were all doing so well, but they’ve been badly affected by the cold nights we’ve had. If these leaves don’t recover the plants will probably grow up again from the base… I hope.

Some cold garden images …

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Fallen passiflora leaves frozen to the table and our neighbour’s almond tree silhouetted against the clouds. It’s hard to believe that within about a month this tree should be blossoming.

A warming soup

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It’s hard to believe, too, that we often eat lunch in the garden, in sunshine, in January. Today we came home as soon as we could to this warming velouté of mushroom and squash (the recipe is on this French/Greek blog). It was delicious with Aveyronnais bread from our local boulangerie.

The work that needs doing in the garden – mostly clearing ground so that we can put goat manure on it – will have to wait until the weather gets warmer. It was still minus 2 C at 11.30 a.m. today – that’s much too cold to garden!

>Walking to the garden on Buy Nothing Day again

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Last year on this day we walked to the garden, having bought nothing but bread that morning. Today we did the same, although we also bought some ham for our lunch before we went. This day isn’t about essential food shopping, though, but about refusing the desperate celebration of consumerism that can happen at this time of the year. There are more details on the Buy Nothing Day website. The main aim of this day is to encourage us think about what we consume and spend, as the website explains:

Buy Nothing Day highlights the environmental and ethical consequences of shopping. The developed countries – only 20% of the world population – are consuming over 80% of the earth’s natural resources, causing a disproportionate level of environmental damage and an unfair distribution of wealth.

Our garden is about ten minutes’ walk from our house, on a hillside above the village in a group of gardens which have been there for centuries. In the centre of the village where we live the houses are too close together for there to be room for gardens. The oldest parts of the village date back a thousand years and it was built on the defensive circulade pattern with very narrow streets. The distance from the village means that the garden is very peaceful (until they start building the new houses nearby next year) and we benefit from two groups of neighbours – those at the garden and those near our house.

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The main road looks bare now that the plane trees on one side have been cut down, but the remaining trees look beautiful against the blue sky and the old walls are still there, although tumbling slowly.

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The path to the garden …

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the garden at the end of November.

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A picnic lunch and a coffee with a long shadow at this time of year.

Wintry light and ripening olives

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Harvesting and clearing

DSC00227 While Lo Jardinièr cleared the aubergine plants, I picked the last of the green chillies. There may be a few more green peppers, so long as the nights aren’t too cold over the next couple of weeks. But we’re preparing the ground where we grew this years tomatoes, peppers and aubergines so that it is ready to put manure on in January.

Broad beans and peas

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Broad beans, Spanish habas, mangetout peas and a second sowing of broad beans

The way home

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past some of the other gardens
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and back through the narrow old streets of the village.

>Summer’s here! / L’été est arrivé

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Olive flowers / les fleurs d’olivier

At last, after a long cold spring, summer has arrived, with the temperature in the high 20s centigrade, and of course the need to water every day. / Enfin, après un printemps long et froid, l’été est arrivé, la temperature monte et on a besoin d’arroser chaque jour.

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The roses are out and so are the lizards / Les roses sortent et aussi les lézards.

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The borlotti beans are climbing and the cucumber plants are flowering / Les haricots grimpent et les concombres fleurissent.
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We’ve picked the last artichokes (a sad moment for me) and the new potatoes are ready to eat. / Nous avons ramassé les derniers artichauts et les pommes de terre précoce sont prêtes à manger.

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The tomato plants are doing well and the November sowing of broad beans are nearly over – we’re saving these for seed as the variety, Seville, has given us a wonderful crop.
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Our first courgette and first pepper have appeared. / La première courgette et le premier poivron ont apparu.

>Beans and more beans and rain / Les haricots et encore d’haricots et la pluie

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It’s lucky that we finished planting out our tomatoes, peppers and aubergines at the beginning of this week.  Since then we have had unusually cold wet weather and haven’t been able to do much work in the garden.  We have been able to pick broad beans and peas, though.  More than we can possibly eat.  We’ve given them away, frozen them and eaten them every day.

Heureusement nous avons planté les tomates, les poivrons et les aubergines au commencement de cette semaine.  Depuis lundi il a fait froid et il a plu.  Nous n’avons pas pu jardiner.  Mais nous avons ramassé les fèves et les pois.  Plus qu’on peut manger.  Nous les avons donnés à nos amis, nous les avons congelés, et nous les avons mangés tous les jours.

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The broad beans have done really well this year.  Yesterday we picked nearly 4 kilos.  We’ve cooked them with artichokes (a favourite recipe of mine), we’ve cooked them and eaten them with olive oil and garlic, we’ve frozen some and we’re making a salad of beans, potatoes (from the garden), sweet onions and parsley to take on a picnic in a vineyard with our Occitan group tomorrow.

Hier on a ramassé presque 4 kilos de fèves.  Ils ont poussé très bien cette année.  Nous les avons cuits avec les artichauts, nous les avons mangés à l’ail et à l’huile d’olive, et on fera une salade des fèves, des pommes de terre (du jardin), de l’oignon doux et du persil pour une picque-nicque dans les vignes avec le Cercle occitan demain.

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Yesterday it rained … and rained.

Hier il a plu … et il a plu.

 

 

 

Today it was good to go to the garden in the sun and find that the irises were still in flower, the vines are about to flower, the palm tree has a new leaf.

Aujourd’hui c’était bien aller au jardin au soleil pour trouver que les iris fleurissent toujours, les vignes sont sour la pointe de fleurir, le palmier a une nouvelle feuille.

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Some of our apricots have fallen in the wind and rain before they are ripe, but I’ve cooked them with sugar and put them in a pilaf.  They tasted wonderful, although not as good as fresh ripe apricots.

Quelques abricots sont tombés dans le vent et la pluie avant de mûrir.  Je les ai cuits au sucre et je les ai mis dans un pilaf.  Ils ont un gout très bon, mais ils ne sont pas si bon que les abricots mûrs et frais.

We picked wild vine leaves near the garden and I’ve made dolmas (stuffed vine leaves) for the picnic tomorrow.  The recipe is on the Mediterranean cuisine blog.  / J’ai fait les dolmas (les feuilles de vignes farcies) pour le picque-nicque demain.  La recette et sur le blog Mediterranean cuisine.

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And mussels again … / et les moules encore

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There was some rice left over when I’d made the dolmas so we used it to stuff mussels which we ate with tomato sauce.

Il y a resté du riz après que j’ai fait les dolmas.  Donc, j’ai fait des moules farcies qu’on a mangé à la sauce tomate.

thyme   butterflies_1_1 thyme   small butterfly_1 These butterflies – up to about 10 at a time – were attracted to the thyme flowers.

>May Day / Le Premier Mai

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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.

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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 . . .

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

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

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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!

>Planting courgettes and eating the first broad beans / Les courgettes et les fèves

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We are in a strange cycle of weather at the moment – fine, warm and sunny in the mornings until midday when the cloud starts building up to a thunderstorm in the afternoon. It’s good growing weather because the plants and the soil are getting watered and warmed, but it means we have to get what we can done in the mornings before we’re driven home by the threat of rain. Maybe I’m not very brave, but I don’t like being out of doors in a thunderstorm.

Cette semaine il a fait beau les matins – chaud avec le ciel clair et le soleil – et puis à midi les nuages viennent et l’orage arrive. C’est bon pour le jardin parce que les plantes sont arrosées et chauffées, mais on doit faire ce qu’on peut le matin avant la pluie.

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As we left the garden this afternoon the view was clear towards the village, but behind us the dark clouds were gathering.

The courgette plants were ready to be planted out. We’ve put some of them between two rows of lettuces which we’ll eat before the courgette plants grow much bigger. We’ve protected the plants from snails by putting cut-off plastic bottles around the stems. Too often in the past snails or slugs have eaten through the young stems, destroying the plant.

Les courgettes sont prêtes à planter dans le jardin. Nous en avons planté quelques plantes entre deux lignes de salade parce que on mangera les plantes de salade avant que les courgettes pousseront. Nous les avons protégés contre les escargots avec des bouteilles en plastique coupées.

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Eating our first broad beans / manger les premières fèves

harvest april 19_1_1 Today we picked our first broad beans of the year, small ones which we cooked whole, and ate with a little olive oil, chopped garlic and savory. They were delicious!

Aujourd’hui nous avons ramasser les premières petites fèves de l’an. Nous les avons cuites entières, et nous les avons mangées avec un peu de huile d’olive, de l’ail haché et de sariette. Elles sont delicieuses!

Victory gardening

The new White House vegetable garden seems to have become part of an encouraging increase in interest in food-growing. Perhaps this is because of the economic crisis, but for whatever reason it is good news that the idea of growing one’s own food is becoming more popular and even fashionable. In today’s Observer, online at http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/apr/19/community-vegetable-patches, there is an article by William Shaw about the community garden movement in the US and a link to Fallen Fruit. This is an organisation in California which maps the fruit trees in public spaces so that people can go and pick their own. A great idea! Now it is moving on to planting fruit trees as well. As the organisers say on their web site:

We believe fruit is a resource that should be commonly shared, like shells from the beach or mushrooms from the forest.