Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Poly Tunnel - Before
Back in France after six weeks in the UK to find the garden over run with weeds. Here like most of northern Europe the early summer has been very disappointing with lots of rain and far too low temperatures. The farmers have not been able to make hay and the ground has become very wet. I have sown the beetroot seeds three times and I have only found 4 plants hidden amongst the weeds.

Poly tunnel - After

The poly tunnel had been planted up with tomatoes and what I thought were melons. Having got the plants in early and under cover I was hoping for an early crop of melons, however on our return I have discovered that two of the melons are in fact courgettes and they had taken advantage of the warm environment to grow like triffids! I battled my way through and having tied in the tomatoes and given everything a good trim I can now walk along the path in the centre. The tomatoes have produced plenty of fruits and should ripen soon, I hope!

Pea Harvest
Luckily the broad beans and peas which had been sown under fleece cloches have grown well, and I have now cleared the peas. I am sure we would have got a far bigger crop if we had been here to harvest them as they became ready, but we weren't so most were past their best and will have to be used in dishes which require a little more cooking. Nothing gets wasted though, the peas have been blanched and are now in the freezer.

The carrots that I had sown and which were coming up six weeks ago have disappeared just like the beetroot, I don't know if they have been washed away, rotted or just eaten by mice or slugs.

The raspberries ripened while we were away so I was only able to rescue a small bowl of them, however the alpine strawberries are producing copious quantities of albeit small fruits.


The Hydrangeas are spectacular this year, loads of flowers and really healthy looking leaves. I think they like the cooler weather.

The potatoes have done quite well and we are currently enjoying the international kidney variety, know as Jersey Royals, when grown in Jersey. We won't go hungry this summer but we have not got the variety of vegetables I would like to have in the garden.

Potato Flower
Bagnoles de l'Orne

On Sunday we went to the Vide Greniers in Bagnoles de l'Orne, where we had a stall selling our Chutney and Marmalade. It was the first really nice day and the crowds came out to enjoy the sun. We had a lovely spot near the chateau, in the open sun in the morning but in the shade of the trees as the sun went over head, keeping us pleasantly warm, but comfortable. We had several repeat customers who were pleased to find us close to where we had been last year. We still have plenty of stock so if you want some chutney or marmalade do ask for a price list.

Before returning the unsold stock to the shelves I took the opportunity to clean out the store/utility room and having cleared it out gave the walls a coat of paint, what a difference a coat of white paint does. They whole place looks fresh and clean again. Now the stock is sitting on aqua marine shelves against while walls, very chic.

Now the weather has finally changed, for the moment at least. It is now very warm and the farmers are working day and night to make hay from all the available grass. I noticed this morning that the harvesting of the grain crops has also started. As thunder storms are forecast for Friday the farmers and contractors are trying to get as much done as possible before the weather breaks.

For us it is a time to sit in the shade and do as little as possible. This afternoon a family of swallows are flying around our heads as the young are being taught the ways of the world by their parents. It is fascinating to watch as they seem quite unaware of us watching them.  The sky is blue and there is not one cloud in the sky, how long will it last - who knows - let's enjoy it while it lasts.

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