Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Roses and an artichoke / Les roses et un artichaut

Our Rose Banksieae has really become well established after four years and it has covered our sun shelter with beautiful, delicate yellow flowers.  / La Rose Banksieae s'est bien enracinée après quatre ans et elle a couvert l'abri des belles fleurs delicates et jaune.

rose banksieae_1_1_1

We've picked the first mangetout peas / on a ramassé les premiers petit pois mangetout.


iris1_1_1_1 iris2_1_1 iris3_1_1

The irises are out and you can see why they're called 'flags' when they're blown about by the wind like this.  /  Les iris fleurissent et on peut voir pourquoi on les appele 'drapeaux' en anglais quand ils volent au vent comme ça.

The first artichoke / le premier artichaut

first artichoke to eat_1_1_1 fried artichoke_1

We cut the first artichoke of the year and ate it thinly sliced and fried in olive oil - it was wonderful!  /  On a coupé le premier artichaut et on l'a mangé coupé en tranches fines et puis sauté à l'huile d'olive - il est superbe!

It's really difficult to leave the garden at this time of the year, but I'll be away for the next few days.  There should be some more artichokes to come back to, though, the three little ones growing around the one we ate today and more on the other plants.

more small artichokes_1_1

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Planting courgettes and eating the first broad beans / Les courgettes et les fèves

We are in a strange cycle of weather at the moment - fine, warm and sunny in the mornings until midday when the cloud starts building up to a thunderstorm in the afternoon. It's good growing weather because the plants and the soil are getting watered and warmed, but it means we have to get what we can done in the mornings before we're driven home by the threat of rain. Maybe I'm not very brave, but I don't like being out of doors in a thunderstorm.

Cette semaine il a fait beau les matins - chaud avec le ciel clair et le soleil - et puis à midi les nuages viennent et l'orage arrive. C'est bon pour le jardin parce que les plantes sont arrosées et chauffées, mais on doit faire ce qu'on peut le matin avant la pluie.

gabian 19-4_1_1 storm clouds_1_1

As we left the garden this afternoon the view was clear towards the village, but behind us the dark clouds were gathering.

The courgette plants were ready to be planted out. We've put some of them between two rows of lettuces which we'll eat before the courgette plants grow much bigger. We've protected the plants from snails by putting cut-off plastic bottles around the stems. Too often in the past snails or slugs have eaten through the young stems, destroying the plant.

Les courgettes sont prêtes à planter dans le jardin. Nous en avons planté quelques plantes entre deux lignes de salade parce que on mangera les plantes de salade avant que les courgettes pousseront. Nous les avons protégés contre les escargots avec des bouteilles en plastique coupées.

courgette1_1_1_1 courgette2_1_1

Eating our first broad beans / manger les premières fèves

harvest april 19_1_1 Today we picked our first broad beans of the year, small ones which we cooked whole, and ate with a little olive oil, chopped garlic and savory. They were delicious!

Aujourd'hui nous avons ramasser les premières petites fèves de l'an. Nous les avons cuites entières, et nous les avons mangées avec un peu de huile d'olive, de l'ail haché et de sariette. Elles sont delicieuses!

Victory gardening

The new White House vegetable garden seems to have become part of an encouraging increase in interest in food-growing. Perhaps this is because of the economic crisis, but for whatever reason it is good news that the idea of growing one's own food is becoming more popular and even fashionable. In today's Observer, online at, there is an article by William Shaw about the community garden movement in the US and a link to Fallen Fruit. This is an organisation in California which maps the fruit trees in public spaces so that people can go and pick their own. A great idea! Now it is moving on to planting fruit trees as well. As the organisers say on their web site:

We believe fruit is a resource that should be commonly shared, like shells from the beach or mushrooms from the forest.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

More wildflowers and a hint of summer / Encore de fleurs sauvages et un soupçon d'été

At the top of the hill above the gardens there is a capitelle, where the shepherds and and goatherds would have sheltered from the sun or rain, depending on the season.  Tumbling stone now, but still a shelter with a view!

Au sommet de la colline au-dessus des jardins il y a une capitelle, où les bergers et chevriers prennaient l'abri du soleil ou de la pluie, selon la saison.  Les murs tombent maintenant, mais ça reste un abri avec une belle vue.


Between the capitelle and the garden we found these flowers.  Please let me know in a comment if our identification of them is wrong, as we're not sure of all of them.

Entre la capitelle et le jardin on a trouvé cettes fleurs.

Pistacia lentiscus_1_1 Pistacia lentiscus - lentisc Lathyrus cicera - chickling vetch_1_1
Lathyrus cicera - chickling vetch
Linum bienne_1_1
Linum bienne - pale flax
salsify - Tragopogon porrifolius_1_1
Tragopogon porrifolius - salsify
Genista hirsuta_1_1
Ginesta hirsuta - broom

young lentisc with Spartium junceum in foreground_1_1 We think the branches in the background are young lentisc.  In the foreground are spikes of Spanish broom (Spartium junceum) about to flower.




tomato canes_1_1 In the garden, for me it's the start of summer when the tomato canes go up.  / Et dans le jardin il me semble que l'été commence quand les cannes sont là pour les tomates.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Some flowers in the garrigue / Quelques fleurs en garrigue

It was a lovely clear sunny morning and from Montesquieu we could see Mont Canigou and the Pyrenees, the peaks still covered with snow.  / Il a fait beau et clair ce matin et de Montesquieu on a pu voir le Mont Canigou et les Pyrénées, leurs sommets couverts de neige.

canigou from montesquieu_1

Olive trees live for centuries and often the original tree has died while new young trees have grown up around the beautiful shapes of the hollow centre.  / Les oliviers vivent pour plusiers siècles et souvent l'arbre original est mort et des arbres nouveaux ont poussé autour les formes belles du centre creux.

olive trunk 1_1_1 olive trunk 2_1_1
olive trunk 3_1_1 olive leaves_1_1

In the garrigue, the scrubby vegetation that grows on uncultivated hills, this is the time of year when the plants flower before dying back during the dry summer.  /  Dans le garrigue, la végétation broussailleuse qui pousse sur les collines, les plantes fleurissent à cette saison avant de perdre leurs feuilles et leurs tiges pendant la sécheresse d'été.

I find the website very helpful when I'm trying to identify Mediterranean plants.  It is an incredible work by one man, Stephen Mifsud, who is cataloguing and describing the flowering plants which grow in Malta.  Many of these are common to the area all around the Mediterranean, so it is an extremely useful data base.

Today we saw / aujourd'hui on a vu:

cistus albidus   wild asparagus_1_1 cistus close up_1 Cistus albidus
clustered sulla_1_1 Clustered sulla, Hedysarum glomeratum Lathyrus clymenum_1_1
Crimson pea, Lathyrus clymenum
thyme   wild asparagus_1_1

Thyme and wild asparagus growing together.

Le thym et les asperges sauvages ensemble.
asphodelus albus_1_1 asphodel
Asphodelus albus
aphyllanthes monspeliensis_1_1 aphyllanthes close up_1
Aphyllanthes monspeliensis

new salad box_1_1 Back at the garden, Lo Jardinièr finished making a new raised bed and planted out lettuce plants our nighbour had given us.  He made a wooden frame with some cast-off planks, put it on a patch of rough ground we haven't used before and filled it with a mixture of half compost and half soil.

Lo Jardinièr a construit une parterre pour les salades.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

First artichoke and first cuckoo / Le premier artichaut et le premier coucou

first artichoke_1_1 Today is a very important day for a blog called Olives and Artichokes: the first artichoke of the season has begun to grow.

Aujourd'hui c'est un jour très important pour le blog Olives and Artichokes: le premier artichaut de la saison a commencé à pousser.

And while we were in the garden today we heard a cuckoo for the first time this year.  /  Et quand nous étions au jardin nous avons entendu un coucou pour la première fois cette année.

We didn't just sit there admiring our artichoke and listening to the cuckoo, though.  We sowed climbing beans too.

Growing climbing beans around terracotta pots / Cultiver les haricots grimpants autour des pots en terrcuite

We've decided to use the terracotta pot watering system which Kate at Hills and Plains Seedsavers recommended and which we used successfully for haricot beans last year.  We're getting plenty of rain at the moment but we know that in a few weeks' time it may be very difficult to get enough water into the ground.  This method seems to work really well as the water seeps gradually into the earth through the terracotta.

Nous avons decidé de utiliser le système d'arrosage des pots en terrecuite que Kate à Hills and Plains Seedsavers a conseillé et que nous avons utilisé pour les haricots verts l'année dernière.

beans   terracotta pots 2_1_1 beans   terracotta pots 3_1_1_1
beans   terracotta pots 4_r1_1_1 beans   terracotta pots6_1_1

We made two rows of five pots, each surrounded by a 'wigwam' of six canes.  We'll cover the pots with old tiles to prevent evaporation.

On a fait deux lignes de cinq pots, avec un 'wigwam' de six cannes autour de chacun.  On couvrira les pots avec des vieux carreaux pour éviter l'évaporation.

bean seeds1_1_1 bean seeds 2_1_1

We sowed one row of Smeraldo, a green mangetout variety and one row of Borlotti beans / on a semé une ligne de Smeraldo, une variété vert mangetout, et une ligne de Borlotti.

climbing rose_1_2

The climbing rose is looking very pretty now.

La rose grimpante est très jolie maintenant.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Sowing after the rain / Semer après la pluie

After two more days of heavy rain there are no concerns about drought for the next few months.  The stream which runs down from the spring above the gardens, La Resclauze, is full.  The weeds are loving the rain, but luckily so are the plants and trees.

Après deux jours encore de pluie on ne doit pas s'inquiete sur la secheresse.  Le ruisseau qui coule de la source au-dessus des jardins, La Resclauze, est pleine.  Les mauvaise herbes aime la pluie, mais hereusement les plantes et les arbres aussi.

Sowing rampion / Semer le raiponce

Rampion is a plant which grows wild around the Mediterranean.  Its leaves can be eaten in salad and its roots are like radishes.  I found the plant mentioned in a poem by Occitan writer Max Rouquette (in Occitan the plant is called reponchon) and then discovered I could buy the seeds from Seeds of Italy.  In German the plant is called Rapunzel, as in the fairy tale, she of the long blonde hair.

Le Raiponce pousse autour de la Méditerranéen.  On peut manger les feuilles en salade et les racines comme les radis.  J'ai trouvé le mot Occitan, reponchon, dans un poème de Max Rouquette et puis j'ai les acheté de Seeds of Italy

.rampion seeds_1_1

The instructions on the packet included the Italian words: al momento della semina miscelare con sabbia.  Luckily I remembered just enough Italian to realise this meant the seeds must be mixed with sand and when I opened the packet I could see why.  They are the tiniest seeds I have ever seen!  The picture above shows hundreds of them in the palm of my hand.  I can hardly believe that they will grow!

Il faut mélanger les semences avec la sable parce qu'elles sont toutes petites.  Je ne peut guère croire que les plant pousseront!

Artichoke and chicken liver salad / Salade aux artichauts et à la foie de volaille

chicken liver salad_1_1

At home this evening Lo Jardinièr made this delicious salad with leaves from the garden, artichokes and chicken liver. / Chez nous ce soir Lo Jardinièr a fait cette salade delicieuse aux feuilles du jardin, les artichauts et la foie de volaille.

For our main course we had chicken rissoles with tomato sauce, bulgur and rainbow chard - the recipe for the rissoles is on the Mediterranean cuisine blog. / Pour le plat principal on a mangé des rissoles de poulet à la sauce tomate et au bulgour - la recette des rissoles est sur le blog Mediterranean cuisine

chicken rissoles 2_1_1

Friday, 10 April 2009

The hungry gap? / Le trou affamé?

april harvest_1_1

There isn't much to harvest in the garden at this time of the year, when the winter cabbages and leeks are finished and we're still waiting for the summer crops of tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines and peppers. But there is still a huge range of varieties of plants growing in and around the garden which we can eat.

Il n'y a pas beaucoup à ramasser au jardin à cette saison, mais il y restent plusiers de variétés de plantes qui poussent dans le jardin ou près du jardin que nous pouvons manger.

Yesterday we picked and ate 16 different varieties of leaf or flower:

Hier on a ramassé et mangé 16 variétés differentes de feuille ou fleur:

cos lettuce (laitue), spinach (épinards), sorrel (oseille), broad bean leaves (feuilles de fève), wild rocket (roquette sauvage), mint (menthe), parsley (persil), savory (sariette), oregano (oreganum), thyme (thym), chard (blettes), rainbow chard (feuilles de bette) - from the garden / du jardin.

borage flowers (fleurs de bourrache) - from the wild / sauvage.

coriander (coriandre), oak-leaf lettuce (feuille de chêne), mizuna - from the balcony / du balcon.

The chard and rainbow chard we ate cooked with mussels and an onion and white wine sauce. I used the herbs with goats' cheese to make parcels as I did with the borage leaves the other day. The other leaves made a salad to accompany them.

On a mangé les blettes et les feuilles de bettes avec des moules à la sauce au vin blanc. Avec les herbes j'ai fait des parcelles comme celles à la bourrache. Avec les autres feuilles j'ai fait une salade pour les accompagner.

We're looking forward to the summer vegetables, but in the meantime there are plenty of exciting flavours in the garden!

On attend avec impatience les légumes d'été, mais pour le moment il y a beaucoup de saveurs dans le jardin!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Borage and butterflies / La bourrache et les papillons

Borage has one of the prettiest flowers of all the herbs: purple stars which line the roadsides and the vineyards here in spring. The flowers can be put in salads and in drinks, the leaves can be cooked in soups and sauces. Today we picked leaves and flowers and I made borage and cheese parcels - the recipe is on the Mediterranean cuisine blog.
borage 1_1_1 borage parcels_1_1

La bourrache a des belles fleurs: des étoiles pourpres au bord de la route et des vignobles en printemps. On peut mettre les fleurs dans les salades et dans les boissons et les feuilles dans les soupes et les sauces. Aujourd'hui nous avons ramassé des feuilles et des fleurs et j'ai fait des pastelles à la bourrache et au fromage. La recette est sur le blog Mediterranean cuisine.

Borage is a good plant to have in the garden as it attracts bees and is said to improve the flavour of tomatoes grown nearby. Traditionally it has medicinal uses, including the relief of stress. But for me it adds colour to salads and flavour to dishes like these parcels. The older leaves have prickly hairs on them and so they need to be cooked. The young leaves are delicious in salads, with a taste like cucumber.

Two swallowtail butterflies were chasing each other around the garden and refused to stay still and pose for the camera. The best I could do was this action shot of one of them:


Deux machaons se pourchassaient autour du jardin et ils ont refusé de s'arreter pour le photo. J'ai dû prendre cette photo d'action.

and a butterfly coincidence ...

I had just posted my swallowtail photo when I looked at the Jardim com gatos blog and found I had been given this award - thanks gintoino!

I don't usually participate in these blog awards and games, but I can't resist this one! I read so many interesting blogs, but I'd like to forward it to the following blogs, the first two are about gardening in Mediterranean climates, like gintoino does in Portugal and like I do in the Languedoc, the third has beautiful photos and makes me laugh, the fourth is a good mix of campaigning and gardening ...

The tulips were easier to photograph / les tulipes étaient plus faciles à photographier:

tulip1_1_1 tulip2_1