Saturday, 29 November 2008

Walking to the garden on Buy Nothing Day / Une promenade au jardin la Journée sans Achat

Today is Buy Nothing Day. The politicians want us to buy them out of the crisis by going shopping from now until Xmas, but it seems that we got into the crisis partly because people wanted to buy too much, so today we've bought only bread, nothing else at all. And to celebrate a day off from consumerism we left the car at home and walked to the garden. Inspired by Gintoino at Jardim com gatos in Portugal, I thought I'd take you with me past the old mill and up the hill [click on the photos to enlarge them]:

Ajourd'hui c'est la Journée sans Achat. Les politiciens veulent que nous achètions pour terminer la crise économique, mais il me semble que la crise est arrivée parce que les gens ont voulu acheter trop. Donc, aujourd'hui on n'a acheté que le pain. Pour fêter une journée sans consommation on a laissé la voiture chez nous et on est allé au jardin à pied. Inspirée par Gintoino du blog Jardim com gatos au Portugal, je vous invite de m'accompagner en passant le vieu moulin et en montant la colline [cliquer sur les photos pour les agrandir]:

garden walk 1_1_1 garden walk 2_1 garden walk 3_1_1
millstone_1_1 garden walk 4_1_1 garden walk 5_1_1
roses in winter_1_1 garden walk 6_r1_1_1 sedum on wall_1_1

At the top of the path ... / en haut ...

a winter view of the village / la vue de Gabian en hivergabian winter view_1_1

garden in winter_1_1_1

and our garden in winter / et notre jardin en hiver

I like the different ways people use to secure their gardens / j'aime les façons differentes de clôturer et proteger les jardins:

corrugated iron_3_1 rusty padlock_1_1
green door_1_1_1 red door_1_1

and the plants growing by the old stone walls / et les plantes qui poussent près des murs en pierre anciens

artichoke wall_3_1 garden steps_1_1
lichened roof_2_1
and the lichen ....
plane leaves_1_1_1
and the plane leaves.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

My list for the planet / ma liste pour la planète

For the past few days, since I read Kate's post on responsibility for the planet on the Hills and Plains Seedsavers blog, I've been thinking about my own list.  I believe that we should all have such a list, but that this doesn't absolve governments from responsibility.  Individuals cannot save the planet - governments have to do something too.  However, in spite of the occasional hopeful sign, politicians are failing the planet, so we have to do what we can while we try to persuade them to do their bit too.

Pendant ces derniers jours, depuis que je lis le poste de Kate au sujet de la responsibilité pour la planète, je pensais de ma propre liste.  Je crois que tout le monde doit avoir une liste, mais il faut aussi que les gouvernements prennent la responsibilité.  Les individus ne peuvent pas sauver la planète.  Cependant, malgré des signes d'espoir de temps en temps, les politiciens manquent à leurs devoirs envers à la planète.  Donc on doit faire ce qu'on doit pendant que nous essayons de les persuader.

This is the list of ways in which Lo Jardinièr and I think we can take responsibility for our lives and the future of the planet:

1.  Growing our own food / cultiver le potager

April harvest_1_1_1

We grow almost all the vegetables we eat, almost all year.  This is mainly because we enjoy gardening and because they taste better. (I wrote about this in August.)  But it also saves on transporting food by road, or even worse by air.  We cook all our food - we hardly ever buy anything ready prepared.

On cultive le potager parce qu'on aime jardiner et les légumes ont plus de gout.  (Voir mon poste en août.)  Mais aussi ça utilise moins de ressources du monde.

2.  Buying local, buying sustainably, recycling / acheter localement, durablement, et renouvelablement

Almost all the food we eat comes from within 100 km of the village, although we do buy fruit from Spain and North Africa  When we eat meat, it is usually pork, poultry or lamb, which are sustainable, rather than beef which is not.  As far as consumer durables are concerned we're lucky to have reached the stage in our lives when we have furnished our house, so we don't buy much.  We also keep using these items while they are still working, rather than throwing them out for the latest fashion - for example our oven which is old and ugly, but it works, so we're keeping it.  On the rare occasions when we take things to the dump we pick up building materials that others have thrown out.  We're hoping to find wood for a cold frame there and will buy old windows for it from Emmaus, a recycling charity.

On mange les produits qui viennent de moins de 100 km du village, a part des fruits de l'Espagne et de l'Afrique du Nord.  On mange le porc, la volaille et l'agneau.  On continue d'utiliser les machines qui marchent toujours.

3.  Minimal packaging / emballage minimal

gabian packaging_1_1

Because what we do buy comes from local shops and markets, there is very little packaging.  Anything we buy in the market goes straight into our wicker basket and we refuse offers of plastic bags.  Cheese and meat from the local shop are wrapped in paper, and vegetables are put in paper bags which we re-use to collect food from the garden. 

Car ce qu'on achète vient des magasins locaux et le marché, il y a très peu d'emballage.  On refuse les poches en plastique.

4.  Share and exchange / partager et échanger

One of the nice aspects of living in a village is having a community of people nearby with whom we can exchange and share.  Just a couple of examples: Friends give us fruit, we make jam with it and then give them back some jars of jam in return.  We've bought a second-hand trailer to share with our neighbour, since neither of us need to use it every day.

On partage et échange avec les autres habitants du village.

5.  No air-conditioning / on refuse la climatisation

The units look ugly on the outside of lovely old village houses, the air quality they produce is unnatural and in cars air-conditioning uses extra fuel.  In summer we shut the shutters in the afternoons to keep the heat out.  In the car we open the windows.

En été on ferme les volets l'après-midi.  Dans la voiture on ouvre les fenêtres.

6.  We don't fly / on refuse de voyager en avion

We never fly.  This isn't a choice that everyone can make, we know.  But when we go on holiday we go by train.  And we enjoy it!

On voyage en train, et on l'aime!

7.  A few (unsustainable) luxuries / quelques luxes non-durables


Italian coffee - roasted in Italy, grown in South America or Africa.  Very occasionally, we eat steak.  And because I can't walk up hills easily, we go by car to the garden.

Le café italien.  Le steak, de temps en temps.  Aller en voiture au jardin.

This list isn't complete, but it's a start.  Everyone has to make their own choices for their own lists.  This is ours.  What's yours?

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

La Sainte Cathérine

On the French calendar, provided for us each year by the local fire service, today 25th November is Sainte Cathérine's day.  And the saying which everyone here repeats whenever tree-planting is mentioned is: À la Sainte Cathérine tout bois prend racine.  On Saint Catherine's day all wood takes root.  This is the season for planting trees and shrubs.  We've already planted two cherry tree cuttings, a fig tree and our lemon tree.  Today on this special day for planting we put in a Pyracantha coccinea shrub, which will have red berries.

planting pyracantha_1_1
Pyracantha coccinea
Pyracantha coccinea_1_1 Pretty red stems and dark green leaves

Aujourd'hui, la Sainte-Cathérine, en suivant le dicton ' À la Sainte Cathérine tout bois prend racine', nous avons planté un buisson de Pyracantha coccinea.

The lemon tree seems happy in its new sunny corner, the flowers are opening and the fruit is ripening.  We've covered it with a sort of 'tent' for the next few days as cold nights are forecast.

lemon flower november_1_2_1 lemon tree tent_1_1_1

Le citronier va bien dans son coin ensoleillé.  Les fleurs ouvrent et le fruit mûrit.  Nous l'avons couvert d'une sorte de 'tente' pour les prochains jours parceque des nuits froids sont prévues.

Today's harvest / Le moisson d'aujourd'hui

St Catz harvest_1_1

Leeks, turnips, rosemary, oregano and sage

poireaux, navets, romarin, oregane, sauge

Monday, 24 November 2008

A winter miscellany / une collection diverse hivernale

Winter soup / La soupe d'hiver

All through the winter we have soup made from vegetables from the garden for lunch nearly every day.  It was cold this morning so we weren't tempted to go out to the garden but I found some courgettes in the freezer from a summer glut.  I simmered them, with a chopped onion, a couple of bay leaves, a couple of cloves of garlic and a teaspoonful of salt, in water to cover for half an hour.  Then I added some white haricot beans and liquidised them all into a delicious soup.  I fried some lardons (bacon pieces) until they were crisp then added some cubes of bread and a chopped clove of garlic to make croutons, then served the soup with these and some bread from the boulangerie around the corner, made with unbleached flour from the Aveyron.  A good hot lunch for a cold day!

winter courgette soup_1_1 

Winter courgette soup

Tout au long de l'hiver à midi presque chaque jour, on mange de la soupe de légumes du jardin.  Il a fait froid ce matin, donc on n'a pas voulu sortir au jardin, mais j'ai trouvé des courgettes dans le congélateur.  Je les ai cuites au feu doux, avec un ognion coupé, deux feuilles de laurier sauce, deux gousses d'ail et un peu du sel, pour une demie heure.  Puis j'ai ajouter des haricots blancs et je les ai mélangés.  J'ai sauté des lardons et j'ai fait des croutons.  Après ajoutant une gousse d'ail coupée j' ai garni la soupe avec les lardons et les croutons.  Un bon déjeuner chaud pour une journée froide!


I've put the latest batch of olives in brine in large 2-litre jars for the big ones and a smaller jar for the little ones.  They should be ready to eat in a couple of months' time.

olives in 2-l jars_1_1

J'ai mis les olives à la saumure dans des bocaux grands de 2 litres, et les petites olives dans un bocal plus petit.  Elles doivent être prétes à manger dans deux mois.

Chilli peppers / Les piments rouges

We moved one of our chilli pepper plants to the house so that it wouldn't be killed by the cold and the chillies are still ripening in the sun on the balcony.

red chilli 2_1_1

Nous avons mis une des plantes de piment rouge sur le balcon pour la proteger du froid.  Les piments continuent de mûrir.

And some good news from further south ... / des bonnes nouvelles de l'Espagne ...

Renewable energy / L'énergie renouvelable

According to today's Guardian newspaper, a new power plant is being constructed near Sevilla in Andalucia, southern Spain. It will use mirrors to reflect the sun towards a water tower which will generate enough electricity for 11,000 homes. Each of the 1,000 mirrors is half the size of a tennis court and all have to be angled carefully to catch the sun's rays. This method of energy production, known as concentrated solar power, clearly depends on sunshine and availability of large areas of land, so it will not work in cloudier, more crowded areas of the world - but there's a hope here for the future and maybe countries in Africa, as well as southern Europe, will be able to benefit from this innovation.

And in Catalunya, it seems, even the dead can help ... in the town of Santa Coloma de Gramenet near Barcelona the town council has erected 450 solar panels in the cemetery - enough to provide power for 60 homes.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Last of the peppers and more olives / Les derniers poivrons et encore d'olives

Today we picked all the remaining green peppers, most of them quite small, but any night now the temperature may drop below freezing and we'd lose them all. I've pickled the smallest ones whole in a mix of 1 cup white wine, 1 cup red wine vinegar, 1 cup of sugar, with bay leaves and thyme. I'll fry the three bigger ones with some onion and tomato as a vegetable dish for our supper tonight.

last of the peppers_1_1 peppers pickled_1_1

Aujourd'hui nous avons ramassé tous les poivrons qui restaient. La plupart étaient petits, mais à cettte saison la température peut tomber au-dessous de zéro et nous en perdrions tous. J'en ai conservé les plus petits entiers dans un mélange d'une tasse de vin blanc, une tasse de vinaigre de vin rouge et une tasse de sucre, avec des feuilles de laurier sauce et thym. Je vais sauter les trois poivrons plus gros avec d'oignon et de tomates pour notre dîner ce soir.

More olives! / Encore d'olives!

Lucques olives_1_1
Lucques olives
small olives_1_1
Small olives - could be Tanche (Nyons variety) or Arbequina (a Spanish variety)

Some kind friends have given us several kilos of their olives, mostly Lucques and a bowlful of tiny black ones which may be Tanches - the variety which is grown in Nyons in Provence - or Arbequinas, a Spanish variety of small olive. They are all soaking in spring water while we look for enough big jars to pickle them in.

Des amis très gentils nous ont donnés quelques kilos de leurs olives, des Lucques et un bol d'olives noires très petites qui peut-être sont des Tanches - la varieté de Nyons en Provence - ou des Arbequinas, une varieté espagnole d'olive petite. Je les trempent dans l'eau de source pendant qu'on cherche assez de grands bocaux pour les conserver.

Lemon tree / Le citronier

In the garden today I sowed peas while Lo Jardinièr made a space for our lemon tree in a sunny corner of the garden. It was getting too big for its pot, so we've planted it in the ground in a sheltered spot with stakes around it so that we can easily cover it to protect it from cold weather. I hope it will be all right - it has our first three lemons on it, one of which is ripening!

lemon tree_1_1_1 1st lemon ripening_1_1

Aujourd'hui au jardin j'ai semé des petits pois, pendant que Lo Jardinièr a arraché les mauvaises herbes pour créer une place pour notre citronier dans un coin ensoleillé du jardin. C'était trop grand pour le pot, donc nous l'avons planté dans la terre dans un endroit à l'abri du vent. Lo Jardinièr a mis des pieux autour du citronier pour le proteger du temps froid. J'éspère qu'il va bien - il a nos premiers trois citrons, un de lesquels mûrit!

According to Hugh Latymer in The Mediterranean Gardener, the lemon tree is much less hardy than the orange tree and can stand temperatures down to only -3 C. It can get colder than that here occasionally, but we hope to be able to protect our tree by wrapping it when very cold weather is forecast.

Selon Hugh Latymer dans The Mediterranean Gardener, le citronier est moins résistant au froid que l'orangier et peut supporter une température de -3 C. Il fait plus froid que ça ici de temps en temps, mais on éspère de le protéger avec de la voile d'hivernage quand il fait très froid.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Buy sustainably challenge and Garden Bloggers' bloom day

Maybe this is cheating a bit, but I think it qualifies for the Buy Sustainably challenge on 1greengeneration.  We wouldn't actually have gone out and bought a rotavator, but when we were offered one which needed a little attention, and which otherwise was going to be thrown on the dump, we accepted it.  Lo Jardinièr cleaned the valves and the top of the piston, put the engine back together again .... and it works!

rotavator 1_1_1 rotavator 2_1_1

It will make cultivating the garden much easier - and we transported it to the garden in the cheap secondhand trailer which we bought jointly to share with our neighbour.  There's no need to have one of our own - we don't use it every day.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

There aren't many flowers in the garden at the moment for Garden bloggers' bloom day (hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens) and the ones that are there are mostly weeds, but we're enjoying ...

climbing rose_1
the climbing rose - not a weed
scabious - which is a weed but a nice one
vinca - also a weed which would cover the whole garden, given the chance.

Friday, 14 November 2008

A winter's day in November / Un jour d'hiver en novembre

It's only mid-November, but today was a perfect winter's day, with a cloudless sky and a cold north wind.  This is the kind of day I try to describe when people who live in northern climates ask me what winter is like in the Languedoc.  It's dry and bright and the sun still feels hot so long as you're out of the wind.

sky view_1_1

C'est mi-novembre, mais déjà c'est une journée parfaite d'hiver aujourd'hui.  Un ciel sans nuages et un vent froid du nord.  C'est la sorte de jour que j'essaye décrire quand quelqu'un qui habite un climat du nord me demande: 'l'hiver dans le Languedoc, c'est quoi?'.  Il fait sec, la lumière est éclatante et le soleil est chaud si on est à l'abri du vent.

sun   olive_1_1 sun   olive 2_1 olive sky_r1_1_1

The low light shines through the olive branches, silvering the undersides of the leaves against the dark shadows and the bright sky.

garlic terracotta pots_1_1

Today was the right phase of the moon for garlic, so we planted ours around the terracotta pots which Kate has written about on Hills and Plains Seedsavers, 7 cloves around each pot.

Nous avons planté l'ail autour des pots en terrecuite duquels Kate a écrit sur le blog Hills and Plains Seedsavers.

lettuce seedlings 2_1_1  We planted the lettuce seedlings from the seeds Kate gave us.
red cabbage caulifflower_1_1 The red cabbages and the caulflowers are doing well, but the mizuna is struggling a bit against the snails.

Les choux rouges et les choufleurs vont bien, mais le mizuna se bat contre les escargots.
mangetout_1_1 I love sowing peas and broad beans - the seedlings come up looking so sturdy and hopeful.  A good omen that spring will follow the winter. broad bean_1