I’m busily planning a little perennial garden – there was not much here by way of flowers when we arrived – a few dahlias, a few daffodil bulbs in the poly tunnel, a drift of snowdrops in the winter. There are a few self-seeded honesty plants here and there, and a couple of shrubs that flower, but by and large, it’s either green, a tree or functional. Or the dandelion lawn. Madame clearly wasn’t too fussed by anything floral.
I’m of a different ilk. Sure it can all be function, but a garden is a thing of beauty, a treasure. For me here, it’s a huge outdoor room and I want it to be amazing. I spend most of the day out there in the summer, and I like it to be beautiful as well as functional. Sure, there’s a place for vegetables and fruit and herbs, but there has to be a place for a few flowers too. When you’ve got an acre of land, not everything has to be purposeful.
It might be wet today, but it’s been a very dry year overall and unless you can keep things watered, it’s hell on earth to keep things alive. Most of my recuperated water goes on the vegetables, but I tend to use a lot of grey water for the plants. I don’t like using grey water on things I’m going to eat, like tomatoes. I just don’t like the idea of my shampoo suds or soap suds helping my tomatoes grow. However, the grey water seems to be just fine for the plants – last year’s hollyhocks near the washing machine outlet were phenomenal triffids – obviously a bit of dirt and suds didn’t hurt them any.
We don’t have very much used water that’s not grey – other than the toilet. The bath ends up underneath a peach tree. The sink and bidet, who knows where. At least it’s very environmentally friendly. See. Everything comes full circle. Soon we’ll all be using chamber pots and digging holes like we did in the past. Madame probably did a sensible thing, not getting a fantastic septic tank. I know a couple of villages near me that have recently had mains plumbing installed – I wonder if it will ever happen here? I know every President since Mitterand has been saying they’re going to get France on mains plumbing by this or that date as part of their election campaign. It seems a bit far away for me. And when it comes? If it comes? I might only connect up the toilet and keep recuperating the rest for my garden!
So, despite the dryness, I’m planning a bit of a flowerbed with some perennials and annuals in there. I’ve done a pinterest board of stuff that’s either in the vegetable plot or starting off in pots for the flower garden.
As to what’s going – or gone – where in the garden…
Plot 1 is the big plot that was potatoes last year. Now it’s beans, peas and turnips at the moment. I’ve alternated every three rows and left a space for tomatoes and corn. I’m doing a square of corn this year and covering it from the birds, who demolished it last year. This year, I’m wise. I’m sitting there with Noireau and a shotgun. Woe betide a bird who eats my corn.
Plot 2 is the little plot that was just tomatoes last year. This year, it’s just potatoes.
I bought a pack of Sirtema potatoes. I have three rows of these in in the very back plot. These are ‘half-precocious’ potatoes, so they should be ready in 110-130 days. That’s around 27th July onwards. The Sirtema potatoes are good for mash, oven and in stews. They take longer to fill out and have a flesh that crumbles. In the back plot, I’ve also planted two rows of Charlotte potatoes. I bought twice as many Charlottes – 3 kg – they’re also half-precocious and will be ready about the same time. I need to plant another patch of them in over the next week. These hold their shape better, so they’re perfect for salads, frying or chopping and frying up as rissoles.
Plot 3 was a mixture of tomatoes, corn, courgettes and beans last year. This year, it’s root crops – carrots, onions, beetroot. My parsnips will also go in that plot, as will the lettuces too.
Plot 4 is the big plot. This year, it’s going to be mostly tomatoes with some other bits and pieces thrown in, like courgettes, peppers and aubergines. It’s the Italian garden.
Plot 5 will be more potatoes and then rows of cabbage. Last year, it was peas and tomatoes. I think this covers all my vegetable delights!
Unbelievably, I could still do with another vegetable plot. I’ve probably got a good 60 m² of vegetables, and it’s not enough.