The vegetable garden

It’s that time of year when things are starting to come to life outside, the daffodils have been out for a while, sounds are coming from the various potagers around the village, people are dusting off their rotovators and prepping the ground, ready for planting.  The ground has been too solid from the cold to be working it, but for the last couple of weeks we have had glorious dry weather with temperatures up into the 20s, the soil has warmed up.

We did a late autumn planting of rose and violet garlic, garlic really needs some freezing temperatures to help it’s germination, we certainly had those this winter, and the minus 15 degrees seems to have had a fantastic effect on them.  The onions I planted at the same time, don’t look so healthy.  I hope I don’t have to pull those up, but a friend said that hers had rotted.  The ones I planted are a lovely red onion called Red Baron and some yellow ones I haven’t grown before, Paille des Vertus.  I shall have to have a look…

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White and violet garlic from last year

Last weekend John was on rotovating duty and the soil is lovely, after a couple of years of potatoes grown in different spots, it’s really helped break the clay soil down. He also planted out another few rows of onions, a beautiful white one called Snowball, and a different variety of yellow, Sturon.

I have a mini polytunnel I bought back in Buckingham, but never used, it sat in the garden shed for a couple of years!  This winter I noticed lettuce seedlings coming up from where a lettuce must have gone to seed.  I haven’t managed to grow a single lettuce here, it’s been too hot and they bolt almost immediately.  The vegetable patch is in full sun all day, and they probably need to be in a more shady area. Perhaps I’ll experiment with growing in pots this year.  Anyway, I thought I’d salvage some of the lettuce and sow some broad beans for over-wintering under the tunnel.  And apart from the tunnel blowing away in the storm a month back, they have done very well – fingers crossed we will actually eat a lettuce grown by me this year.

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Last May, first picking of broad beans

John also transplanted our raspberries to create a border down the length of the patch, I’d noticed Jacques had done that in his garden and it made for a great border and created shade for more tender vegetables.  This has now cleared a big space for our potatoes.  Back in the UK I was used to being able to buy seed potatoes individually, which meant I could grow a number of different types, in France I’d only been able to find 3kg bags as the smallest option, which meant a huge amount of one type of spud, and we wanted at least one salad variety and one main crop – so the last couple of years we had a huge amount of the garden laid over to potatoes. This year I wandered into Auchan in Poitiers and found to my joy they are selling packs of 25 seed potatoes, so I bought three varieties, and have traded some with our friend Helen, and now have 5 types to plant, and they all mature at different times, which is great as we can then use the space for quicker growing summer salads, herbs etc.

Now I just need to sort through all the seed packets, and actually get them in the ground!