Last summer I had a real problem with annual weeds so decided to try and avoid the problem this year. After covering the bare ground last autumn with a thick covering of farmyard manure I covered the whole lot with thick black plastic. With trepidation I removed the black plastic which has been covering the veg plot over the winter. The manure has been incorporated into the soil presumably by the worms and there were only a couple of dandelion plants trying to force their way up through the soil. These were so weakened that they were easy to dig up - root and all. The ground was lovely and crumbly and ready for planting.
The potatoes have been planted. The broad beans, sown last autumn and which were about 20cm high at Christmas have not survived the long winter despite being protected with fleece tunnels, so I have had to re-sow. Peas, carrots, beetroot, Swiss chard and spinach have also been sown in the hope of an early crop, now a question of wait and see. At least the garden will get more light this year as a friend has cut back the neighbours trees which overhang our garden and meant that one of my veg plots was too shaded in the height of summer.
Kept the remaining part of the veg garden covered in plastic awaiting the more tender plants which are being grown from seed in the warmth.
Today we have had a birthday party, all our neighbours and friends were invited in for a drink and birthday cake. It was the first time we had had all our neighbours in at the same time. It was a very nice atmosphere, English French and Dutch being spoken.
As soon as the last guests had left I had to dash off into the village where the local school was holding a fund raising event. 'Lotto' I have always thought this was some kind of lottery /raffle but is in fact the french for Bingo. I went with my walking friend and another English mum from the school. I didn't win anything - but I was impressed by the quality of prizes. There was a mountain bike and a 83cm digital television as main prizes, the local businesses still seem to support local fundraising events here - different from our area in England, where it is almost impossible to get sponsorship from local companies. Really we could have been anywhere, it could also have been a WI event - except for the language of course- but I knew the ropes and happily started stacking chairs when it was all over.
The price of milk continues to dominate the farming community here. They still get a higher price per litre than most other European countries but the price the farmers receive is considerably lower than what they have been getting in recent years. They have been accustomed to good farm gate prices and have based capital expenditure on those prices and are now finding it very difficult to survive. One our neighbours has had a new cow shed built with photovoltaic cells on the roof. They now produce their own electricity and sell the excess back to the grid. This is an excellent way of producing clean energy and earning extra income, especially as it is subsidized by government grants.
There have been demonstrations in Paris and more strikes are planned for the future as the farmers continue to pressure on the government to improve farm gate prices.