Soft fruit orchard

I never seem to photograph this incredibly productive part of the garden. It’s all green and busy and you get no perspective.

The soft fruit orchard is located in a long thin strip of garden below the potager. For the first time in 14 years I have managed to keep it under control with the weed-proof fabric underfoot.

Behold the jostaberry bushes. The work horse of the fruit production.

I think they might also be called Casseilles – a cross between cassis and groseilles. Black currants and gooseberries. But here they just sound like this:

The hum of pleasure as the tarts come out of the oven. Then the silence of the plate scraping until there is nothing left.

In the soft fruit orchard we have half a dozen jostaberry bushes, the same again of black currants.

And now, thanks to Lisa’s gifts a few years back, red currants. I think there are four, no five. And add in the unremarkable white currants (too many seeds) I think that’s the lot.

The red currants are already over, and luckily I had neighbours Solène and Agnès about to pick them while we were away. They were so kind to come and water during the dry spell. And like all good gardeners, I can’t abide waste. Imagine no one getting to eat the delicious red fruit?

They are definitely my favourites among the currants. Black currants smell divine. And they make a great cordial. But are a bit too powerful raw.

I find that you can actually add half and half white currants and black to make an inky syrup. And you don’t need to be very picky about all the stalks.

But it’s Jostas for about a mad month of delight. And we pick kilos each day. Well, this year we do. It has been a bumper season for the fruit. They missed the hard frost that struck other bushes and trees in late spring. And they didn’t get shredded by hail like last year.

Pick and freeze, pick and freeze. Tarts, breakfast garnish, freeze some more.

Dare I admit that I even ran out of Tupperware to store them? So naturally that involved a trip (I was going past on the rocade sud of the Grenoble bypass on my way to the Alps last Friday, honest) to Ikea.

It was the first time in about four years, and it was heaven. Heaven for the retail deprived. Heaven for those whose brilliant blue Ikea bags have finally given up the ghost. The hard working bags which I use to haul mowing and strimmed grass about. At the moment I’m taking sacks and sacks of the terrace strimming to Solène’s asparagus terraces round the next mountain.

And heaven because I had seen this mosquito net online and yearned. Just yearned.

I always picture myself having a small nap in the afternoons after lunch. But end up either being too busy, or getting pestered by one lone fly in the office ruining my chance to doze.

This makes the wonderful prospect possible. But not today. I need to rake all the terrace grass. Cut and lying in wait.