The potager shed

The potager shed

Hi.

Welcome to my blog. This is just my personal garden and food diary. I’m a flexitarian, vegetarian at home, but more flexible when with friends. I’m trying to grow our own food so we leave a lighter footprint on this precious planet.

Over the past six years I have been transforming a one acre former vineyard on a steep hill into a garden. There are distinct areas; an 80m2 vegetable garden, a small orchard, a pond and a sunken path flanked by two long mixed borders.

We are in a small hamlet near Faugères in the Occitanie (formerly Languedoc) region of France. Our soil is rocky schist. Summer temperatures can reach 40℃ and in winter sink as low as -10℃. Water comes rarely but is diluvial when it does.

Lizzie

Shock and awe

Shock and awe

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When we first built our house our neighbours to the north were 500 cherry trees. M. Carlet, the landowner, allowed us to hop over the fence and pick some fruit as the entire orchard had been abandoned when the price of cherries was less than the cost of looking after and picking them. It was a magical orchard, overgrown at the canopy but with myriad pathways carved out by wild boar and other creatures. I loved it. Over the past few years it has become increasingly overgrown and impenetrable. Our fence was competely swamped by wild broom and cistus that had forced its way through in search of light. We haven’t collected any cherries for at least four years.

In the last couple of weeks, however, the fire service has instructed everyone to clear away any trees and shrubs that are nearer than 50m from our property. That includes M Carlet’s wildly overgrown cherry orchard. As a result a huge digger arrived a couple of days ago and began to clear the previously unseen terraces of their trees. A wide roadway has been carved all along our fence line so fire vehicles can reach that part of our property. My shed is now safer. It’s brutal, and I went through a period of worrying about all the lost habitats. However, there are huge fines for flouting the law so there was little choice.

Now that the land has been cleared our garden seems even larger, the birds have moved from my potager to the newly cleared land in search of freshly revealed insects and worms and it all appears much more airy. I don’t like that it looks completely barren and I’m shocked to see that the land is completely dry, but the plants will come back slowly before it all gets cleared once more.

On a happier note, despite the overnight frost, the borlotti beans I planted out yesterday survived. I put them at the least cold end of the garden and it seems to have paid off. I have a lot more to plant out so I’ll wait a few days just to be sure.

The no-dig flower garden that I created yesterday is looking great. I made it around the boxes that the last workshop people worked on, then filled it with home-grown plants and I sowed a lot more in situ. It will be entirely cutting flowers. I had intended to fill it with edible flowers but when it came to planting I completely forgot!

Scout and Jonty helped me dismantle the hot bed in the greenhouse and we began to move the new compost down to the vegetable garden. It’s looking fantastic. Thanks to Caroline’s lovely ponies.

Of course it wasn’t 34 degrees yesterday, more like 23. However the thermometer is on black wood in direct sun, so it’s a dodgy reading. The lower figure is correct though, as witnessed by white frost when I looked out of the window at 8am.

What a difference a year makes

What a difference a year makes

Stir-fried peppers, mushrooms & tofu

Stir-fried peppers, mushrooms & tofu