Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Family Fun

A lovely week in the UK - a second birthday, an Easter egg hunt and Mother's day with both my children. Wonderful!

Everybody singing Happy Birthday when you have just woken up can be a little scary.

Present opening brings back a smile - especially when you have bubbles.

Playmates, birthday donuts and more bubbles.

Easter Egg Hunt around the school - well done Balgowan PTA.

Mother's day lunch for two  - an old Mum and a young Mum.

It was a lovely break. Back home again now to beautiful sunshine and a garden to see to.

A bientôt.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring is in the air.

Spring is in the air and we are surrounded by lovely new growth indoors and out. I love this time of year when everything comes back to life. The orchid that I have had for years with little sign of movement has come into flower and is giving me so much pleasure and new seeds are germinating in the kitchen and the greenhouse. It's all go!

4 flowers

The kitchen window sill nursery

Christmas cactus and narcissus in bloom together

The serre is currently a nursery - soon I will move the seedlings to the cold frame to make way for early tomatoes. The big lettuce just appeared over the winter and the rest are new plantings.

In the greenhouse

Broad beans from autumn and spring sowings are doing well. The garlic is well on its way and all the beds are ready for planting. The hinged, wooden frame is K's design for a protective cover - just needs the fleece adding. When I cleared the last of the leeks, three sweet pea plants were uncovered and I've moved them to the end of the bed - fingers crossed they survive the move as I don't have much success usually with sweet peas.

In the potager
I am going to the Uk for a few days - I wonder how all these areas will look in a weeks time. Happy gardening everyone.

A bientôt.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Pottering in the Potager

It's a bit rainy here at the moment but in the dry spells we have been getting the veg garden ready for the season. When my son was a little boy he walked by when I was weeding in the garden and said 'you're good at soil Mum' - I think the insinuation was that I wasn't very good at actually growing things though. These days I like to think I am still 'good at soil' but now it's not just about keeping it weed free but improving the quality to get better crops.

We have completely fenced the potager now for three reasons:

  • To keep the chickens out when we let them out to roam
  • To keep the ragondin (coypu) and rabbits out
  • To keep the dogs with us securely when we are working in the garden

New compost bins

Weeded, manured and turned.

Can you see the garlic growing happily?

Although our raised beds give us a no dig system I do like to lightly fork over the soil and feel it for myself. I have added home grown compost and well rotted grass cuttings and am now adding well rotted horse manure. We also get cow manure from a neighbour so some beds will have that. We add compost from our local dechetterie (rubbish tip) where we can fill up the trailer for free and that adds bulk and texture. Then when I plant or sow I use bought compost in the hole or drill to add some more balanced feed. I save egg shells and scatter them to deter slugs but also to add calcium and later use epsom salts for my tomatoes and peppers to add calcium.  We also have raised beds in the greenhouse and here I grow early tomatoes and start my seedlings. According to this article playing in the soil is good for my health - I know I always enjoy my time pottering in the potager.

Ready for seed sowing and early tomato plants.

Tomato seeds are doing well on the kitchen window sill - when their 3rd and 4th leaves are established I will pot them on. I have to finish a spring GTU (General Tidy Up) in the greenhouse and then seed sowing can start with a vengeance. The broad beans I started on the kitchen window sill are doing well outside  and I have sown more directly outside too so fingers crossed. We are harvesting the last of the leeks and the cauliflowers to release those beds for other crops so a bit more playing with soil will go on there soon.

So much to look forward to in the potager but good harvests start with good soil prep so get your hands dirty, stay healthy and enjoy your garden as much as we enjoy ours.

A bientôt