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

Very busy time...

Very busy time...

….preparing for Open Gardens next weekend. I spent most of this week mowing and strimming grass, moving pots about, planting out flowers and weeding. Ali helped me weed too so it’s pretty much done now. Having Open Gardens looming concentrates the mind brilliantly. The target is set and when you have people coming to visit, your own pride/shame means that you want as much as possible to be interesting and in decent order. It’s a working garden so it will never be perfect but I love it and that’s what I’d like to share.

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During the week I exchanged all the pots with spent daffodils and tulips for fresh ones containing alliums about to burst into jolly pom-poms.

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One of the cherry trees that I liberated from the bomb site (fire-break) next door has died. I didn’t really expect all three to take, but the other two look OK for the moment. Thus I had a space into which I could plant another fruit tree. Ali said she’d love a plum like we had at our last house. So I found a Mirabelle de Nanacy in a local nursery, and just beside it was a lovely looking Regina Claudia Violetta, so I bought that too. Both are, in theory, self-fertile but most plums like this do better if there is another plum nearby so having a friend along should increase yield.

I’m not a huge fan of turnips, having been force-fed old ones as a child which would have been better fed to cattle. However, these Petrowski arrived in a Feed the Family pack from The Real Seed Company so I sowed them to see. Actually, picked young and pickled they are absolutely delicious. I’ve pickled some in brine with baby beetroot and these in a sweet pickle with turmeric and white mustard seeds. We’ll see which we prefer before picking all the rest of the turnips - or maybe leaving some for a main crop.

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Do you remember that I wrote about splitting store-bought basil back at the beginning of April? Well here they are, still going very strong.

Last night forecasters said we’d have very low temperatures and a biting wind so I moved the 175 tender plants I have ready for sale during Open Gardens back into the greenhouse. Then I shifted all my plants waiting for a spot in the vegetable garden into the shed. I’m glad I did. It dropped to 3.6 degrees in the potager, although the soil in the coldest corner was at a reasonable 12 degrees.

The bad news was the wind which has kept up all day, with blasts of over 100kph. We’ve even brought a new lemon tree into the sitting room as the wind was blowing the soil out of the pot!

We’re now well and truly into broad bean season and they are absolutely delicious. We even had some for lunch the other day, cooked for 3 minutes then drizzled with our friend Catherine’s olive oil, a sprinkling of Murray River salt and a few slivers of pecorino. They were utterly divine.

This week I have been listening to The Shape Of Lies by Rachel Abbott, From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan and The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Open Gardens

Open Gardens

A family effort

A family effort