Catching up

Well the rain has finally driven me indoors so there is no excuse for putting off these notes. Nothing worse than having a week’s worth of information to impart. I almost feel like being barred from the garden until I have caught up. So – scrabble around for the small bits of paper that have been accumulating since April 1st and off we go. Random notes I fear as I haven’t dated any of the bits of paper.

I have had a Gamm Vert birthday feast. Jan has kindly given me money towards plants and I have gorged myself on the glories of the St Peray garden centre. What fun. To atone for all this easy gardening (I bought some tomato plants, some aubergine and even some peppers already up and well advanced. Cheating.) I went up to the top vegetable garden and spent a very hot and sweaty afternoon removing each and every weed. (For this week). Into this pristine environment went one and a half rows of pink fir apple potatoes, twenty more broad bean seeds and a row of mangetout peas. If all goes well they will grow up and attach themselves to the wire fence. I now have two rows of charlottes and enough pink fir apples to hopefully keep us in spuds for this year.

I was racing to get the row of peas sown before going up to Jean-Daniel’s horse riding school for manure. He has kindly let me have a few sacks of the fresh stuff to use on the raspberries next year. Heavy work hauling it out of his manure trough below the stables, heave them into the car, drive them home and then struggle up to the top potager and create a good sized pile. The amount looks paltry even though I hauled and heaved.


It has been a day of gardening and muck. I sowed seeds, weeded the lower vegetable bed. Sowed yet more chives, tidied the broad beans which are doing very well. Amazing that almost all of the seeds I planted up earlier in the winter have germinated. Not so the peas which seem to have been eaten. Or else just frozen under the snow. But reassuring to have such a success rate in the bean bed.

I need to rebuild some more of the central path. It has lost some of its bark chips which are heading slowly into the onion bed. Nicolas has a lovely method of using long straight logs of chestnut to make the sides neat. I’m trying the chives and abundance trick first. But what is the bet that next year I will give in and get some more secure structure?

Watered all the seedlings in the potting shed; there are even tiny teensy little stipa seedlings coming up. Goodness knows how I’m going to get enough of them to germinate and romp away around the swimming pool. It’s an expensive seed – 3 for just 25 tiny bits of seed.

The alliums are still bursting out of their pots. Amazing that I only planted them up last week. They were obviously ready to get going. Thank goodness for plant hormones. The ones in the herb bed are also up and growing away. I’m sure they have grown six inches since the weekend. They are towering over the artichokes, which isn’t supposed to happen. I do hope the artichokes will catch some warm weather and take off. I had planned for the allium foliage to be hidden behind large leaves of artichokes. But right now it’s an allium bed rather than an artichoke one. I do think I have enough sage and thyme now. I will take cuttings in the summer to bulk out the bed. Weed seedlings are already poking through the mulch and it can only get worse.

There are buds on the black currant and Jostaberry bushes and the cherry blossoms are just starting to take off.

A milestone tonight. I didn’t feel the need for a fire this morning. It must be spring.

Another warm and sunny morning. I planted out the mizuna salad that I grew from seed in the lower vegetable garden, and then grabbed a bucket and scooped up the molehills that have appeared overnight. Smack bang in the middle of the cabbage bed this time. Luckily I am still at the share the garden with all creatures stage. I used the soil from the molehills to fill in the small dip left by the old forsythia that was plonked among the plum trees. It could do with another wheelbarrow’s worth of soil. But Nicolas has bagged all the spare topsoil for the back of the pool garden wall. I shall have to scrabble about for the molehills in the lower terraces.

I know that rain is forecast, but I took the time to fill all the water barrels up at the top potager. And positively soak the recalcitrant raspberry canes. I am still in dead stick anxiety mode with most of the canes. They aren’t doing anything – just sulking. I can see a few leaves on a few canes. But it looks tragically like they are all dead. I don’t dare yank one up to see. So just keep saying -hold on for another week.

I found a home for the alliums that are busting out of their pots. I have buried them in the new future flower bed just beside my potting shed. It’s flat, it’s stone free and it’s bare. Perfect for a trial run of all sorts of flowers I want to have but am too scared to try on a grand scale. In went the bulbs (still in their pots as it won’t be their final resting place) and two of the stipa pots that I brought out earlier in the year.


To Vernoux market today for a look around. It’s still rather agricultural and thin compared with the summer markets. (Well, poor Vernoux is always rather frumpy compared with markets further south. But at least there is not much Provencal tat.) But I did buy three pots of mint and a lovely lemon verbena plant for the summer garden.

Later I want down to the compost bins and worked in some activator. The compost is quite good and ready, but still not perfect. So with the activator and my lovely pungent nettle compost I have high hopes that the next few weeks will be all I need to get the compost looking perfect. Where will I put it? On the vegetable bed I suppose. I want to nurture the euphorbia plants which are sulking somewhat. Things need to grow up and hide the compost bins. I’m hoping the artichokes will do that in the short term. But keep seeing broad sweeps of gorgeous euphorbias in other people’s gardens and have such pangs of envy. The spring green of the euphorbia just lifts the spirits like little else.

Each trip up the drive right now means another blast of cherry blossom. Hope the bees have done their work before these petals fall. It’s great to see just how many wild cherry trees there are in the hills around us. It’s only in spring that you get that view of stark white blossom in among the oak, pine and chestnuts.

My 33 cabbage seedlings are enduring their hardening off period. Poor things, they look so stricken in their pots being blasted by the wind on the terrace. Must stop this now and go and bring them in for the night. It’s cold again here this week. Spring not quite ready to reveal itself in the daytime temperature. And I don’t think we have frosts at night, bit it is parky.