Sunday, 29 March 2009

First day of summer time / Le premier jour de l'heure d'été

Last night the clocks went forward and today is the first day of late sunsets and long evenings in the garden. To help the plants along we had a day of rain yesterday, the first for nearly two months, so they are getting the perfect combination of water and warmth.

Dans la nuit l'heure a changé et aujourd'hui est le premier jour du coucher tardif du soleil. Pour aider les plants on a eu une journée de pluie hier - donc ils ont la combination parfaite de l'eau et chaleur.

In the garden / dans le jardin:

bay flowers_1_1 broad bean flowers_1

the bay and the broad beans are flowering / le laurier sauce et les fèves fleurissent ....

pea flowers_1_1 and so are the peas, although they shouldn't be - the plants are too small.

et les petits pois aussi, bien qu'ils sont trop petits.

The fig leaves are unfurling / les feuilles du figuier s'ouvrent ...

figleaves_1_1 figleaves2_1_1
rosebuds_1_1 the climbing rose is about to cover the shelter with flower / la rose grimpante est sur le point de couvrir l'abri de fleurs.
courgette plants_1_1 In the cold frame the courgette plants are growing well / Dans la petite serre les plantes de courgette poussent bien.
And on the balcony we have salad leaves and mizuna to go with the wild rocket from the garden / Et sur le balcon il y a des feuilles de salade et de mizuna pour accompagner la roquette sauvage du jardin. balcony salad_1_1

Summer time? Perhaps not yet, but it's beginning to look as though it may happen! / L'heure d'été? Peut-être c'est un peu tôt pour dire ça, mais ça va venir!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Another gift of wild food / Encore un cadeau sauvage

wild leeks_1_1

Today a friend brought us these wild leeks.  She says you can take the little 'seed' bulbs off them and plant them for next year's crop. / Aujourd'hui une amie nous a apporté ces poireaux sauvages (porettes).  Elle dit qu'on peut enlever les petits pepins pour les planter dans le jardin.

wild leek salad_1_1

We cooked them, let them cool and then dressed them with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to make a salad.

Nous les avons cuits, et puis nous avons ajouté de l'huile d'olive, du jus de citron, sel et poivre pour faire une salade.


At this time of the year I begin to long for summer vegetables, weeks before we will have them in the garden.  Today in the market I couldn't resist buying artichokes, aubergines, courgettes and a red pepper. / Je commence à avoir très envie des légumes d'été, et j'ai acheté sur le marché aujourd'hui des artichauts, des aubergines et courgettes et un poivron rouge.

artichokes_1_1 chichoumeille 1_1_1 

I cooked the artichokes in olive oil and white wine and with the courgettes, aubergines and pepper I made chichoumeille, as ratatouille is called in the Languedoc.  Recipes will be on the Mediterranean cuisine blog.

J'ai cuit les artichauts à l'huile d'olive et au vin blanc, et j'ai fait le chichoumeille, comme on appelle le ratatouille dans le Languedoc.  Les recettes seront sur le blog Mediterranean cuisine

artichookes 3_1 .

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Another Cuban link / Un lien cubain encore

I've mentioned before the amazing efforts that Cuba has made to develop self-sufficient organic agriculture due to the economic isolation it has experienced since the collapse of the Soviet system in 1990.  Cuba has had to make the sort of adjustments to industry and agriculture which we will all have to make as oil production declines over the coming decades.  Putting political arguments aside, there is much to admire here.  The country has progressed from reliance on imports and industrialised, chemically fertilised agriculture and horticulture to locally based organic fruit and vegetable production.  In the capital city, Havana, 50 per cent of the food needed for the population is produced within the city in community gardens and roof terraces.  In smaller towns 80 to 100 per cent of food is grown within 5 km.

Depuis l'effondrement du système Sovietique en 1990, Cuba doit développer un système d'agriculture biologique et autosuffisant.  À Havana, la capitale du pays, ils produisent 50 pour cent de la nourriture dans la ville, dans les jardins communitaire et les terraces.  Les villes plus petites produisent entre 80 et 100 pour cent de leurs besoins alimentaires.

On the Guardian gardening blog today I found the link to this film about what is happening in Cuba: The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.  It's quite a long film - about 50 minutes - but it's worth watching because it shows what can be done by people faced with the energy crisis which all developed and developing countries will certainly face very soon.  Most importantly, I think, the film shows the importance of communities, of people working together for each other as well as themselves.  As Patricia Allison, a permaculturalist, says in the film:

It's not the technology, it's the human relationships ...

I hope that, if one good thing comes out of the current economic crisis, it will be an end to the culture in developed countries where people get into their cars and drive to a supermarket to buy their food, and that more people grow their own food or buy locally produced sustainable food, helping and supporting each other, as they do in Cuba.

Sur le blog du jardinage du Guardian aujourd'hui, j'ai trouvé le lien pour ce film autour de l'agriculture en Cuba: The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.  C'est un film long, mais ça vaut la peine parce qu'il montre ce qui est possible dans une crise de l'énergie et surtout l'importance des communautés dans lesquelles les gens travaillent ensemble pour les autres ainsi que eux-mêmes.  Patricia Allison, une permacultrice, dit dans le film:

Ce n'est pas la technologie, c'est les relations humaines ....

J'éspère que la crise economique va apporter la fin de la culture d'aller aux grandes surfaces en voiture pour acheter la nourriture.  J'éspère que encore de gens cultiveront leurs jardins et acheteront la nourriture locale et durable, comme ils font en Cuba.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Asparagus and sweet onions / Les asperges et les oignons de Lézignan

Onions from Lézignan-la-Cèbe are a local speciality.  They are sweet onions from a small village near Pézenas which in 1615 added 'la Cèbe' to its name, from the Occitan word for onion - ceba. In Occitan there is even a special verb meaning 'to plant onions' - cebejar.  In spring the onion growers in the village sell young plants at the roadside for replanting.  Our neighbour went there and brought 100 plants for us.

L'oignon doux de Lézignan-la-Cèbe est une spécialité de ce village près de Pézenas.  Le village a ajouté 'la Cèbe' à son nom en 1615 en honneur.  Ce mot vient du mot occitan ceba (oignon).  En printemps les cultivateurs d'oignons vendent les jeunes plantes au bord de la route.  Notre voisin y est allé et il nous en a apporté 100 plants.

lezignan onions_1_1 lezignan onions - planting_1_1_1

It was difficult to find space for 100 onions we hadn't planned for, but we've put them in a double row alongside the potatoes.

asparagus salad 1_1_1 We've been lucky this week - we were given some more wild asparagus too.  We cooked the spears for a couple of minutes in boiling water, let them cool and dressed them with olive oil and a little lemon juice to eat as a salad.  They were delicious - a concentrated flavour of asparagus but with the added 'herbyness' of the garrigue. / On a préparé une salade d'asperges sauvages: cuire les asperges dans l'eau bouillante pour 2 minutes et puis ajouter un peu d'huile d'olive et de jus de citron.  Elles étaient delicieuses avec un gout concentré d'asperge et des herbes de la garrigue.

And a rustic wall / et un mur rustique

Lo Jardinièr has started to make a stone wall to protect our rose bushes from the north wind, using pieces of stone he's collected.  / Lo Jardinièr a commencé la construction d'un mur en pierres pour protéger nos rosiers du vent du nord, en utilisant des pierres qu'il a ramassé.

rose wall 1_1_1_1
the first row of stones in a trench ....
rose wall 3_1_1 choosing the right stones ... rose wall 2_1_1_1 work in progress.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Potting and pottering / Repiquer et bricoler

There seems to be so much to do in the garden at the moment ... watering, because the weather is suddenly hot and we've had very little rain for weeks, planting out lettuce seedlings, sowing other salad plants, preparing the ground for the pepper and tomato plants, having lunch ... and so on.

Il y a beaucoup de travail au jardin en ce moment ... l'arrosage, parce qu'il a commencé de faire chaud et il n'a pas plu pour quelques semaines, repiquer les salads, semer les autres salades, préparer la terre pour les poivrons et les tomates, manger le déjeuner ... etc.

I've repotted over 60 tomato plants (more than we'll need, but they're growing very slowly, so maybe they won't all survive) and some of the courgettes which already have quite large root systems.

J'ai repiqué plus de 60 plantes de tomates et quelques uns de courgettes qui ont déjà des longues racines.


Over the past couple of weeks the garden has become a very noisy place as the bees buzz around the rosemary and the broad bean flowers. / Pendant les semaines dernières le jardin est devenu très bruyant avec les abeilles qui bourdonnent autour des fleurs du romarin et des fèves.

broad bean flowers   beetle_1_1

And on this broad bean flower there's one of the big flying black beetles which are very common in our garden.

2nd broad bean sowing_1_1_1

The second (February) sowing of broad beans are coming up well.  I'm specially pleased with these as they were seeds we saved a few years ago and had forgotten about!

Spring salad / salade du printemps

march salad_1_1

Rocket, wild rocket, oregano and sorrel leaves / les feuilles de la roquette, la roquette sauvage, oreganum et oseille.

Wild asparagus / les asperges sauvages

wild asparagus_1_1

A friend had given us some spears of wild asparagus she had picked and we added some spears from plants growing wild in our garden.  Wild asparagus is thinner than the cultivated variety, with a herby, more concentrated flavour.  It grows in the garrigue, especially where there has recently been a fire so that it has less competition from other bigger plants.  Here the tradition, especially on Easter Monday, is to go for a walk in the garrigue and pick asparagus and then make omelette with it.  We did this in the garden today.

Les asperges sauvages poussent dans la garrigue.  Elles sont plus fines que la varieté cultivée et elles ont un gout concentré.  Il y a une tradition ici d'aller dans les garrigue le lundi de Paque pour ramasser les asperges et puis de faire une omelette aux asperges.  On l'a fait au jardin aujourd'hui.

wild asparagus omelette 1_1_1_1 wild asparagus omelette 2_1_1 wild asparagus omelette 4_1_1

Pepper germination / germination de poivrons

We've had very high germination rates for most of the varieties we've sown.  All these seeds came from Kokopelli except the Long d'Espagne which our neighbour gave us.

Corno di Toro: 100 %    Italian Red Marconi: 100%  

Lipstick: 100%             Kolaska: 100 %

Kandil Dolma: 60 %      Nardello:  100 %

Long d'Espagne: 10 % (but these seeds were a few years'old)

Yellow cornos (from Kate) and chilli peppers (our own saved seed) were sown later and have not yet germinated.

The problem with the peppers now is to keep them at a consistently high enough temperature and give them enough light.  Today we put some of them out on the balcony under polythene, but some of them got a bit too hot and dry.  I think they'll be OK.

The apricot blossom is over now, and the cherry blossom is here ... / Les fleurs d'abricotier sont finis maintenant, et les fleurs de cerisier arrivent ...

cherry blossom_1
Cherry blossom opening on a tree near our garden - the tree is on public ground, so we'll keep an eye out for the fruit in May.
cherry blossom 2_1_1_1

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Warm enough for a lizard / Assez chaud pour un lézard

lizard_1 Suddenly it's spring and the lizards are out in the sun ...


Tout à coup, c'est le printemps et les lézards sortent au soleil ...



Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Last month I was away on the 15th so I missed it, and we didn't have many blooms in the garden anyway.  This month is much more colourful:

Le mois dernier je n'étais pas chez moi le 15, et il n'y avait pas des fleurs au jardin.  Aujourd'hui il y a beaucoup plus de couleur:

anemones ...
apricot blossom_1_1
apricot blossom / fleurs d'abricotier ...
aubretia ...
daffodils / les narcisses ....
grape hyacinth1_1_1_1
and grape hyacinths / et les muscaris.
grape hyacinth2_1_1_1

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Moules gratinées

On Friday at an otherwise excellent restaurant in Agde, I ordered moules gratinées and was shocked to find when they arrived that they were huge, green-shelled creatures which I knew don't grow near here.  I asked the waiter and he said that they came from New Zealand!  Although he added that they used local mussels for moules marinières.  Agde is only about 10 km from the nearest mussel beds in the Bassin de Thau.  These New Zealand mussels had suffered from their long journey and months in the freezer - they were tough and tasteless.  How sad, because apart from this the food was good at this family-run restaurant on the quayside, where the woman chef came to our table and explained her ratatouille recipe in great detail - and it was the best ratatouille we'd ever had in a restaurant, as good as we make at home!

Vendredi j'ai commandé des moules gratinées dans un restaurant à Agde et j'ai été étonnée de trouver qu'elles sont des grandes moules au coquilles vertes qui ne viennent pas d'ici.  Elles sont venues de la Nouvelle-Zélande.  Agde n'est que 10 kilometres du Bassin de Thau.  Cettes moules ont souffert de leur voyage long et les mois qu'elles ont passé au congelateur.

At home tonight, I made moules gratinées (garlic, parsley, white wine, bread crumbs, grated cheese and a little paprika) with mussels from Bouzigues and they were delicious:

Chez nous ce soir j'ai fait les moules gratinées - les moules de Bouzigues à l'ail, persil, vin blanc, chapelure, fromage rapé et un peu de piment doux - et elles sont delicieuses:

moules gratinees 2_1_1

Followed by Lo Jardinièr's chard and goats' cheese tart:

chard   goats' cheese tart_1_1

In the garden / Au jardin

celery_1_1_1 new artichoke_1_1
We planted out 10 celery plants from seed given to us by Kate.  I sowed the seed in October and they have grown very slowly on the windowsill through the cold weather.  They're doing well now, though.  Thanks, Kate!  The artichoke plant on the right is supposed to be the same variety as its bigger neighbour - Violet de Provence.  I can't remember whether the others had similar smooth-edged leaves when they were small.

Friday, 13 March 2009

To the sea at last! / Enfin à la mer!

For the first time this year, a day warm enough to go to the sea and paddle in the (cold) water / Pour la première fois cette année il a fait assez beau pour aller à la mer et faire trempette.

canigou 2_1_1

Snow-covered Mont Canigou and the eastern Pyrenees, from the beach at Le Grau d'Agde / Le Mont Canigou couvert de neige et les Pyrénées orientales, de la plage au Grau d'Agde.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Spraying Bordeaux mixture / La bouillie bordelaise

Bordeaux mixture (copper sulphate) is a treatment against fungus and other diseases which is permitted in organic agriculture and horticulture. It is used on the vines here in the Languedoc and in other vine-growing areas and perhaps because it's so commonly used in the vineyards gardeners in Gabian use it on a wide range of plants: fruit trees, olive trees, roses, potatoes.

La bouillie bordelaise est un traitement contre les maladies qui est permis dans l'agriculture biologique. Les viticulteurs du Languedoc et les autres régions vigneronnes la mettent sur les vignes et ici à Gabian les jardiniers la utilisent pour les arbres fruitiers, les oliviers, les pommes de terre, les rosiers etc.

It must be used at least 14 days before harvesting and for fruit trees the best time is in spring before the fruits form. I've been waiting for a calm day to spray our trees and although today wasn't completely still there was less wind than there has been for the last couple of weeks.

Il faut traiter les plantes et les arbres au moins 14 jours avant la récolte et pour les arbres fruitiers le meilleur temps est le printemps. J'attendais une journée calme pour vaporiser la bouillie bordelaise sur nos arbres. Aujoud'hui il y avait moins de vent qu'on a eu les dernières deux semaines.

bordelaise 1_1_1 bordelaise 2_1_1

The powder and the liquid once it's mixed with water are a lovely deep blue colour which makes the leaves and flowers look pretty ....

olive leaves_1_1
olive leaves / les feuilles d'olivier
polka dot blossom 3_1_1
and polka-dot apricot blossom / et les fleurs d'abricotier à pois.

Chorizo and chickpeas / Chorizo et pois chiches

chorizo_1_1 chirozo and chickpeas_1_1

After a hard morning's work in the garden we were ready for lunch and I made a quick stew of tinned chickpeas and some little chorizo sausages which we'd bought in the market earlier, with garlic, thyme, tomato passata, a glass of red wine and a green sweet onion.

Après le travail du matin au jardin on était prêt pour le déjeuner. J'ai préparé un ragout express des pois chiches et des petits chorizos qu'on a acheté sur le marché ce matin, avec de l'ail, du thym, de la purée de tomates, un verre de vin rouge et un oignon doux.

Tomato and pepper sowings update / mise à jour des semences de tomates et de poivrons

tomato seedlings 11-3_1_1_1

The tomato seedlings enjoying the sun on the balcony - when they have two true leaves we'll transplant them into individual pots. / Les petits plants de tomate au soleil au balcon - quand ils auront deux vraies feuilles nous les repiquerons en petits pots individuels.

pepper seedlings_1_1

The pepper seeds germinated very quickly on our heated seed-starter box. The Corno di toro, Nardello, Kolaska, Lipstick and Italian Red Marconi germinated in about 7-8 days. The Kandil dolma and the Spanish long pepper (seeds given to us by our neighbour) have been slower but are showing signs of germinating now. / Les semences de poivron ont germé très vite sur le boîte chauffée: 7-8 jours pour: Corno di toro, Nardello, Kolaska, Lipstick et Italian Red Marconi. Les semence de Kandil dolma et long d'Espagne (ce dernier de notre voisin) commencent a germer maintenant.

rosemary   daffodils_1_1