Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Summer fruits / Les fruits d’été

Our apricots are a late variety, the tree is a Rouge de Roussillon which produces small but very tasty fruits.  We picked this year’s crop a few days ago – 49 apricots, twice as many as last year!  They are so delicious that we just eat them as they are, straight from the tree if possible.

Notre abricotier est une varieté tardive, le Rouge de Roussillon.  Il y a quelques jours nous avons cueilli la recolte de cette année – 49 abricots, deux fois la recolte de l’année dernière!  Les petits fruits ont beaucoup de gout, donc nous les mangeons directement de l’arbre si c’est possible.


At the same time, a neighbour harvested peaches, so we have a box of them to eat fresh and to preserve.  I made peach granita with lemon juice, which is perfect in the hot weather we’re having.

Au mème temps un voisin a cueilli des pèches, donc nous en avons un plateau pour manger et pour conserver.  J’ai fait de granita de pèche au jus de citron – c’est parfait pour le temps chaud en ce moment.


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Courgettes, peppers and aubergines are fruits too  /  Les courgettes, les poivrons et les aubergines sont aussi des fruits

We couldn’t get our pepper plants, sown from seed, to grow this cold spring.  But now everything is catching up quickly and the plants we bought are producing peppers much earlier than last year. 

Les poivrons que nous avons semé n’ont pas poussé ce printemps froid.  Mais maintenant tout poussent très bien et nous avons des poivrons plus tôt que l’année dernière.


The aubergines are growing well now too, if we can only stop the insects from eating them.  These striped beetles are a real pest. / Les aubergines poussent bien aussi, si on peut les proteger des insectes comme ces scarabés.

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We’re eating a lot of courgettes – as fritters, grilled on the barbecue and in cold courgette soup.  This is very easy to make and delicious: Chop three large courgettes and two sweet onions, cover with water, add salt and cook until soft.  Liquidise and chill.  Serve with yoghurt and chopped mint, or just a swirl of olive oil.

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And the tomatoes  /  Et les tomates

Apart from the Yellow Pear tomatoes, they’re not ripening yet, but some look close to it.  One of the earliest to ripen will probably be this Ananas, which we grew from seed we saved last year.

À part des tomates Yellow Pears, elles ne mourissent pas encore. Les plus précoces seront les Ananas que nous avons semé des semences que nous avons gardé l’année dernière.


Sunday, 28 June 2009

Market shopping and butterfly spotting / Le marché et les papillons

Saturday is market day in Pézenas. It’s always fun but it’s especially colourful and busy in the summer. / Samedi est le jour du marché à Pézenas. On s’y régale toujours mais surtout en été.


We bought almond croissants for our breakfast and took them to the Café des Arts to eat with our coffee. Sorry, I forgot to photograph them! / Nous avons acheté des croissants d’amande et nous les avons apporté au Café des Arts pour les manger avec du café. Je m’excuse – j’ai oublié de les photographer!

Stalls line the long main street – clothes, sea food, charcuterie, olives, household goods ….

A fruit and vegetable stall in Occitan colours
Lots of cheese
and colourful terracotta pots to cook it all in.
Des tagines et des casseroles en terrecuite.

At home the garden was full of butterflies. There seem to be a lot of the this year. / Le jardin était plein de papillons. Il me semble qu’il y en a beaucoup cette année.

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DSC06851 The butterflies love the lavender flowers. I haven’t identified these yet, except the Marbled white (top right).
Les papillons aiment les fleurs de lavande. Je n’ai pas les identifié encore sauf le Blanc Marbré (en haut, a gauche).
Pairs of swallowtails were chasing each other around, too. I posted photos of these the other day.

First tomatoes! / Les premières tomates!


We ate the first ripe Yellow Pear tomatoes. They’re small – a variety of cherry tomato.

On a mangé les premières tomates mures Yellow Pear. Elles sont petites – c’est une varieté de tomate cerise.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Fire, water and the earth / Le feu, l’eau et la terre


Fire is part of the natural cycle of Mediterranean vegetation especially the garrigue, clearing the land of dead plants and making space for new growth. It is also very frightening and dangerous. On Monday we were on our way to Roquessels to buy wine and saw smoke on one of the hills near the road, just a couple of kilometres from Gabian. By the time we returned the fire had spread rapidly. We called the fire service as soon as we got home, but luckily they already knew about the fire. It took four hours for 80 fire fighters, 4 water-carrying planes and 2 small spotter planes to stop the fire, fortunately just before it reached the house in the photo below.

Le feu est une partie naturelle du cycle de la garrigue mediterranéenne. Mais c'est aussi dangereux et effrayant. Lundi nous avons vu de la fumée sur une colline près de la route de Gabian à Roquessels, à quelques kilometres du village . Sur notre retour le feu s'est étendu. 80 pompiers et 6 avions ont pris quatre heures pour l'éteindre. Heureusement le feu n'a pas atteint une maison dans la campagne.

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Fortunately this house was saved.
The view from Gabian – a bit close for comfort.

The sea / La mer

DSC06680 The weather is hot but the sea hasn’t warmed up yet. It was only 16 degrees C at Le Grau d’Agde yesterday.

Le temps fait chaud mais la mer n’a pas chauffé encore. Elle n‘était que 16 degrees C au Grau d’Agde hier.

In the garden / Au jardin

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The tomatoes are growing well and one Yellow Pear is almost ripe. / Les tomates poussent bien et une Yellow Pear est presque mûre.

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Peppers and apricots – we ate the first apricot this evening, the rest will be ready in a day or so.

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A swallowtail butterfly on the lavender


and a dragonfly near the stream. It was bright blue, but the sun was so strong the colour doesn’t show in the photo.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

The longest day of the year / La journée la plus longue de l’an

Just as we did on the shortest day of 2008, we had lunch in the garden. This time the shadows were a bit shorter but the coffee was as good. / Comme la journée la plus courte de 2008 on a mangé au jardin. Cette fois les ombres étaient plus courtes mais le café est toujours bon.


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One of our Spanish friends in the village says that paella should be cooked out of doors on a wood fire. So that’s what we did today. / Une de nos amies espagnoles au village dit que la paella doit être cuire dehors au feu de bois. Donc, c’est ça que nous avons fait aujourd’hui.

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Paella with mussels and chorizo / Paella aux moules et au chorizo.

Locusts / acacia-criquets

There are some things I find in the garden that I don’t photograph for this blog. Yesterday when I saw a locust on one of our aubergine plants I didn’t rush for the camera. I called Lo Jardinièr to come and squash it. Last year one of these huge insects at most of the leaves of an aubergine plant in one afternoon. I don’t know how we can deter them. One suggestion on the Internet was a mixture of chilli and paraffin, so I ground a couple of red chillis and mixed them with alcool à bruler (a spirit you certainly wouldn’t want to drink). I then painted this mix onto some of the leaves.


I hope it works. I’m worried that it may damage the leaves.

** UPDATE: this burnt the leaves, so I won't do it again. The best way to get rid of pests - locusts, beetles - is to squash them individually, we've found.

J’ai mis un mélange de piment rouge et alcool à bruler sur les feuilles d’aubergine dissueader les acacia-criquets de les manger.

And a butterfly / Et un papillon


Lo Jardinièr found this Red Admiral butterfly which stopped just long enough for him to take this photo.

Courgettes and cucumbers / Les courgettes et les concombres

It’s a nice problem to have – what can we do with all our courgettes? Yesterday we picked 1.7 kg. I’ve stuffed some with meat and some with olives and onions, I’ve stewed them with some of last year’s preserved tomatoes and we’ve had fried courgettes, courgette fritters and stuffed courgette flowers. Luckily, we really love courgettes! And the cucumbers seem to grow as you look at them.


Garlic grown from bulbs I bought in the market last autumn and planted around a terracotta pot watering system. / L’ail cultivé du ce que j’ai acheté sur le marché en automne.

And a sunflower in the sun / Et un tournesol au soleil.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Another beetle update / Mise à jour des scarabées encore

The beetles were back this morning.  We put one in a jar and I took it to show our neighbour.  He immediately squashed it and confirmed what Gintoino said, that they attack cabbages.  So the others have now been squashed.  They were pretty but they had to go.

Notre voisin a confirmé ce que gintoino a dit – les scarabées attaquent les choux.  Il a écrasé le scarabée que je l’ai montré et nous avons écrasé les autres.  Ils étaient beaux, mais ils devaient mourit.

I’m pleased with our garlic this year, grown from bulbs I bought in the market last autumn and much better than last year’s.  It’s delicious chopped fresh on salads or the heads grilled whole on the barbecue.

L’ail est bon cette année. C’est delicieux cru est frais avec les salades ou les têtes grillées entières.

Garlic fresh ……..
grilled ……
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Wildlife in the garden / Faune au jardin

a dragonfly /  une libellule
and a marbled white butterfly / et un papillion marbré blanc.

But amid the sunshine and days spent enjoying meals in the garden, a reminder on the Guardian food blog today that there are ‘no gourmets in Gaza’ because the Israeli blockade is preventing basic food and fuel from getting to the population, including three quarters of a million children who are the most seriously affected.  According to Alex Renton’s post the UN says that

more than 10% of children are so malnourished their growth has been stunted. This proportion is growing rapidly. Anaemia due to lack of protein is another persistent problem – affecting 65% of children and 35% of pregnant women.

An inhuman collective punishment for an entire people.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Beetles update / Mise à jour des scarabées

Most of the beetles have disappeared, just a few tiny ones remain, and the Borlotti beans look fine and are growing fast. / La plupart des scarabées sont disparus et les haricots Borlottis sont biens et poussent vite.


Maybe these beetles were good ones / Peut-être ces scarabées sont bons.


The haricot beans are growing well too / Les haricots verts poussent bien aussi.

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A salad from the garden today: courgette, cucumber, Lezignan onion, garlic and oregano, and today’s harvest of courgettes and beans. / Une salade du jardin aujourd’hui: courgette, concombre, oignon de Lezignan, ail et oreganum, et la récolte d’aujourd’hui: courgettes et haricots verts.

And something I can’t post on the blog – last week we heard a single cicada in the almond tree in the next garden. Since then we’ve heard their summer chorus all around the garden and in the plane trees along the roads.

Les cigales ont commencé à chanter.

If you haven’t heard them before listen to the sound here:

Cicada / cigale A group of them in a line of trees make a very loud noise! It’s the sound of the south which they are said to make when the temperature is above 26 degrees C.