Friday, 29 April 2011

April in the garden

It’s the greenest time of the year, after the spring rain and before the summer drought, so the weeds as well as the flowers and vegetables seem to grow visibly from day to day.  We’ve eaten our first artichokes – thinly sliced hearts sautéed in olive oil until the edges of the leaves were browned and the centres were soft.  All they need then is a little salt and pepper – it’s one of my favourite ways of eating artichokes.

The cistus flowers are out now, each lasting only a day but being replaced by others the next day.  This cricket was resting on one of them:


Friday, 22 April 2011

Planting out the first tomatoes

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We’ve planted out 12 Roma plants (left) and 18 Languedocian plants so far….many more still waiting.

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The cistus flowers (left) each last only a day before the petals fall, but there are plenty of buds in the garden and in the wild in the garrigue.  The irises last a bit longer – these (centre) are in our garden, but they’re often planted along the edges of vineyards too.  The orange poppy (right) is in the garden too, and all the rough patches of ground between the vineyards are covered with the flowers of the red, wild ones.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

First sight of an artichoke

Several of the artichoke plants have small artichokes developing among their leaves, so it looks as though it may be a better crop than last year when the plants took too long to recover from the cold winter.


We should be eating our own artichokes within a week or so!

Roses and olives

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olive flower buds look so insignificant but the fruit will make a good harvest in the autumn, we hope.

…about to flower, while the broom and Banksiae Rose are almost over….

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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Planting out the maize and lettuce

I was sent 10 Greek maize (sweetcorn) seeds by Gaia’s Hope and they all germinated.  They’re a variety that are very drought resistant, so I hope they’ll do well here.  Today we planted them out, as well as some lettuce plants that our neighbour gave us.

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I sowed the seeds in compost in toilet rolls (left above) and soon after they germinated they had huge roots and were outgrowing the tubes.  I took the cardboard tubes off before putting the plants in the ground in case they dried out too much and stopped the roots growing through properly. 

Spring flowers and an alien appearance

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The first cistus flowers are starting to appear – this one (above, left) is by the path to our garden on a neighbour’s plot.  The Muscat d’Hambourg table grape vine has tiny flower buds on it (centre).  And work continues on the housing development next to the garden, with the incongruous appearance of a theodolite above an ancient dry stone wall (right).

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A green salad (left) made from leaves from the garden – lettuce, spinach, broad bean, rocket, celery – with slices of cou farci we made with one of the duck necks we brought back from the Gers.  I mixed sausage meat (100 % pork) with raisins soaked in white wine, salt, and pepper, and used it to stuff the skin of the duck neck.  The stuffed necks were then added to the pan with all the duck fat and the legs to make confit, and simmered gently for two and a half hours.  They can then be stored in a cool place covered with fat for weeks, or even months, although I don’t think ours will last very long.  The leeks (in the right) are some remaining from our very poor crop this year.  They were very tasty, though, cooked in white wine, left to cool and eaten as a first course with salt, pepper and a vinaigrette dressing.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

More spring flowers and a tiny apricot

Apple blossom – there’s much more than last year.
Cherry blossom – our first year.
A rather raggedy iris.
The bay trees are covered in flowers.
The broom is flowering here in the garden and all over the hills in the garrigue.
There aren’t many apricots on our tree, but it’s going to be a better year than last year.

And the last of the red cabbages


There were three small red cabbages left and threatening to go to seed, so we picked them all this morning, sliced them and cooked them with two sliced onions sautéed in olive oil, a tablespoonful of whole cumin seeds, two tablespoons of brown sugar, a cup of red wine vinegar and a cup of water, plus some salt and pepper, left it all to simmer for about 45 minutes until the cabbage was cooked. It can now be frozen in meal-sized bagfuls.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Vines and roses

In the vineyards, the vines are growing bright green new leaves:

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The wild cherry trees, given to us by our neighbour a couple of years ago as very young side shoots, are flowering for the first time:


At midday we have to shelter from the sun to eat our lunch, yesterday a tuna salad with leaves from the garden:


And the Banksiae rose has flowers and plenty more buds about to open:

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