Weekend harvest

Somehow a whole week has passed since I last posted on this blog and during this time spring carried on its one step forwards, two steps backwards progress, still feeling cold at times but with enough sun – and plenty of rain – to keep the plants growing well. In the garrigue some of the wild flowers are already passing their best. Wild garlic:

1-wild garlic

and wild salsify – I think I’ve posted a photo of this beautiful star-shaped flower before but I’m doing so again because this is probably the last one I’ll see this year.

2-wild salsify

 

In the garden, our big purple iris is almost embarrasingly big and purple:

3-big iris

 

and the white cistus – my favourite of the cultivated cistuses – is flowering, its delicate flowers lasting only a day at a time before being replaced by others waiting to burst out of their buds:

4-cistus

 

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We’re thinking ahead from spring to summer crops now and this morning we planted out six peppers that have been nurtured up till now in mini-greenhouses on the balconies. These first six plants are of a variety that we call A and A Spanish as the seeds originally came from our friends A and A who had brought an especially tasty red pepper home from Spain a few years ago.

6-pepper plant

 

I’m very glad that I sowed two double rows of broad beans last autumn, one in October and another in November, because the second row is now producing huge pods while the first hasn’t finished yet either. In past years I’ve sown one double row in the autumn and then another in February, but I’ve found that the February-sown row never does very well, perhaps because there isn’t enough water for them at crucial times. Autumn-sown broad beans do much better here, as shown by the 4.5 kilos we picked today.

7-broad beans

These (most of which will be frozen), another small artichoke, some wild thyme from the garrigue and some wild flowers Lo Jardinièr had brought home to identify made the kitchen table look full of possibilities:

8-kitchen table

 

I cooked some of the broad beans straight away for lunch, in an earthenware dish over a low heat in olive oil, adding chopped garlic and oregano leaves and some tomato concentrate, then, once they were cooked which took only 5 minutes, some chopped leftover cooked artichoke hearts.

9-beans

>Planting melons and cucumbers / Planter les melons et les concombres

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We try to grow as much from seed as possible and this year we’ve grown almost all of our 64 tomato plants from seed, some from our own saved seed. But we do buy some plants. This year we shall have to buy pepper plants. We sowed several different varieties in March and they germinated well, but the plants haven’t grown well. All the other gardeners we talk to in Gabian say their plants are the same. It’s been a cold spring.

Ce printemps il a fait froid ici et les poivrons ne poussent pas bien, ni dans notre jardin ni dans les jardins des autres à Gabian. Nous en devrons acheter.

This year, as usual, we’ve also bought Charentais melon and cucumber plants from a local producer, in the market in Gabian. The plants come from Fouzilhon, about 3 kilometres from here, so I don’t mind buying these. The same stall also sells other produce from the same farm: strawberries, chick peas, wine, and melons later in the summer.

Cette année, comme d’habitude, on a acheté aussi des plantes de melon Charantais et de concombre d’un producteur de Fouzilhon (3 kilometres d’ici) qui vient au marché à Gabian. Il vend aussi les fraises, les pois chiches, le vin, et plutard les melons.

Melons and cucumbers need a lot of water so we have put some effort into preparing the ground for them. In January we dug in some goat manure. Now Lo Jardinièr has made a wide bed for the melons, surrounded by a bank of earth so that it can be flooded.

Les melons et les concombres ont besoin de beaucoup d’eau, donc nous avons fait du travail en préparant la terre. En janvier on a mis du fumier de chèvre. Aujourd’hui Lo Jardinièr a fait une parterre large entourée d’un mur de terre afin qu’on puisse l’inonder.

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The plants are protect from snails by collars made of plastic water bottles. / Les plantes sont protégées des escargots par des colliers en plastique.

For the cucumbers we have made three channels where we will put drip-hoses for watering. Between the three channels there are two rows for the cucumbers, which will be supported by frames made from canes and wires. We’ll have eight plants – four we’ve bought and four we’ve grown from seed. The latter are not quite ready to go out yet.

Pour les concombres on a fait trois gouttières où on va mettre des tuyaus pour arroser. Entre les gouttières il y a deux rangs où des cannes et des fils soutiendront les plantes. Il y aura 8 plantes.

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Let’s just hope the snails don’t eat them! / On éspère que les escargots ne les mangeront pas!

Aren’t irises amazing? / Les iris sont extraordinaires!

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Yesterday – a bud with the texture of silk. / Hier – un bourgeon à la texture de soie …..
iris2_1_1
Today – this huge flower /
Aujourd’hui – cette fleur énorme.

Iris Night Laughter

>Roses and an artichoke / Les roses et un artichaut

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Our Rose Banksieae has really become well established after four years and it has covered our sun shelter with beautiful, delicate yellow flowers.  / La Rose Banksieae s’est bien enracinée après quatre ans et elle a couvert l’abri des belles fleurs delicates et jaune.

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We’ve picked the first mangetout peas / on a ramassé les premiers petit pois mangetout.

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The irises are out and you can see why they’re called ‘flags’ when they’re blown about by the wind like this.  /  Les iris fleurissent et on peut voir pourquoi on les appele ‘drapeaux’ en anglais quand ils volent au vent comme ça.

The first artichoke / le premier artichaut

first artichoke to eat_1_1_1 fried artichoke_1

We cut the first artichoke of the year and ate it thinly sliced and fried in olive oil – it was wonderful!  /  On a coupé le premier artichaut et on l’a mangé coupé en tranches fines et puis sauté à l’huile d’olive – il est superbe!

It’s really difficult to leave the garden at this time of the year, but I’ll be away for the next few days.  There should be some more artichokes to come back to, though, the three little ones growing around the one we ate today and more on the other plants.

more small artichokes_1_1

>Irises

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These irises were hard to photograph in the wind today. These are in our garden, but growing wild when we found them in the undergrowth and they’re coming out all along the roadsides and by the side of the vineyards now too. The purple ones seem to come first, following by the white-flowered ones. They must have been planted at the edges of the vineyards, but they seem to naturalise and spread and enjoy the dry climate.