Zen and the Art of Garden Maintenance

Things are coming on apace chez nous. Things are growing like you wouldn’t believe – and things that were poor little seedlings are now mammoth triffids. The cherries are beginning to ripen on the tree and I quite believe I could spend from now until October just eating stuff in the garden. I’d probably get the trots, but c’est la vie. Stephen has yet to accept my request that we adorn ourselves with fig leaves to wander about eating from the trees. If only Adam had such a stubborn streak, humanity wouldn’t be in this mess.

So far, we have five plots and a polytunnel in operation.

In the first, we have savoy cabbages, red cabbage and ‘tete de Pierre’ cabbage. Either this is ‘Peter’s head’ cabbage or ‘stone-head’ cabbage. Either way, it made me laugh, so into the ground it went.  Parsnips, salsify, turnips, cauliflowers and leeks have also made this their home. We also have a few straggly beetroot and a whole load of potatoes I couldn’t find last year. Oops. It’s kind of a ‘root vegetable/winter vegetable’ plot with some companion planting to keep beasts away.

In the second, we have nothing but potatoes. Mona Lisa and Belle de Fontenay. I’m going to plant in some of the marigolds to keep it pretty and keep beasts off.

Mona Lisa pomme de terre

This plot was filled with convolvulus and a couple of stray hollyhock beasts, which are mostly gone now. It’s not a bad plot considering it was grass this time last year.

The third plot is a combination of things: sweetcorn, borlotti beans, melons, courgettes and Roma and suncherry tomatoes – sweet plum tomatoes. I’ve kind of rooted it around Mexican three sisters planting: a corn, a bean and a pumpkin – although I’ve gone a bit more melon than pumpkin. Pumpkins are pretty but a bit rubbish at everything apart from Hallowe’en. I might get some in yet. Still time!

The three new plots Steve dug up

The fourth plot is tomatoes: Gardener’s Delight, Cerise, Roma, with a good load of French and English marigolds in there just to keep the nasties away.

Finally, there’s the pea/bean plot which has Kelvedon Wonder, Serpette Guilloteaux and some broad beans, borlotti beans and a couple of spare tomatoes.

The only thing that haven’t grown – at all – are carrots. No luck whatsoever, though I’ve sown about five packets of various different ones!

I’ve got only the swede to sow out – and then August/September sowings for overwintering – so it’s just a matter of keeping the weeds down, the pests at bay and reaping what we sow. I’m getting all Biblical today, obviously, what with the fig leaves and the sowing imagery. Sorry. I shall try and keep it to a minimum!

The polytunnel is the piece-de-resistance. It’s like an amazing science experiment in there. Peas, lettuces – red, oakleaf, curly – radish, turnips, beans, thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, more tomatoes ready to be moved outside – although I’m learning tomatoes don’t like being moved too much. Next year, I might start them a little later in pots and then plant them straight out. Leeks, gherkins, melons, peppers and chili peppers. We’ve got some wild strawberries in there too, courtesy of Madame Arrouet who left them in.

4 thoughts on “Zen and the Art of Garden Maintenance

  1. My seedlings are coming along pretty well, except for the peppers…not a sign yet…

    We won’t be able to plant outside for at least 2-3 more weeks…also have to get my landlord to plow up our garden spot.

    Sounds like you’ll be well-fed this year…


    1. Despite the temperatures here, we don’t get peppers or chili peppers without the heated propagator… don’t know why. The seeds seem really hard to germinate! I’m still wondering if it’s not more sensible just to buy them from the supermarket!!

  2. I wonder if Mme Arrouet is somehow related to Francois Marie Arouet? You are getting incredible bounty from the French ground. I admire all the hard work. Are you still relying on your Larousse a lot? I still have my old hardcover Larousse from grade school 🙂

    1. I somehow doubt that she was – though it would be nice! The only book she left was one called ‘le mouton’ about farming sheep. It says it all! Having said that, I see that Voltaire’s family came from Poitou – so it’s not unlikely they’re slightly connected!

      And yes, we’re incredibly lucky!

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