Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Reflections on my garden

This is my first year growing vegetables and I’m discovering I’m not very good at it. I’m especially, not very good at raising seedlings. I sow tiny little seeds that I can hardly see and usually, for me, not a lot happens! The surface of whatever container I have used seems to get a bit disturbed but that’s all. After several months of this I have only just realised that the problem is mice eating the seeds and the new growth!

I’m not very good with trees either. I planted some cypress to form a windbreak/hedge but they have stayed stubbornly at about 1ft tall. Again, only this week, I realised that deer are eating the new leaves!!

I do have three lettuces growing that I could start to pull some leaves from in a few days! The others are coming up behind. As for my first tomato, I repotted a Marmande plant (a local variety which is big, juicy and just delicious tasting) into it's final pot today and set it out, so now, it's up to the Mediterranean weather and some judicial application of water!

Onions and garlic are also looking quite good and I have some red cabbage gently growing. Peas are beginning to grow and will need some netting before long. I started some shelling beans and a couple of melon plants from seed today. I'm hoping to grow one or two Charentais melons. They do so well in this part of the world and we love them. Last year, a local farmer gave us a few and we ate them, still hot from the field. I also have a couple of butternut squash seedlings coming on in the workshop.

Potatoes are through and will need hoeing up within a week or so and the strawberries are beginning to flower. I saw some leaves where I have sown radish but the spring onions haven't appeared yet.

Four of my six herbs are doing ok - mint, chives, flat parsley and dill.
I have a couple of others sown but no signs yet, I’m beginning to think they have failed.. I also failed completely to get any basil growing!! And of course, in this part of the world, I have lavender – lots of lavender. I planted another 10 plants today to extend the lavender bed. Lavender seems to enjoy being in our harsh, clayey limestone soil. It’s funny isn’t it, both lavender and grape vines seem to need to struggle to produce their magnificent crops.

I realised today that one of the problems I am facing is mice eating the new shoots. I hadn't realised that was the problem. I'm now sowing a few seeds in pots and putting cloches made from cut down soda bottles over them. I'll see how that works?

And then there is the deer eating my new trees! I have resorted to putting my new timber compost bin (before I filled it with compost), over the tree to keep the beast out.

I suppose, for my first year I'm not doing too badly, but I know I have a long way to go! The problem is that when you are new to something you want success, nothing but success. Acceptance of the occasional failure is only something that comes with experience and I suppose that is what I am really growing.

I know that I’m only trying to grow a small bit of what I eat. I know that a lot of what I eat and drink will continue to be produced a long way away, that a lot of what I want to eat has to be produced a long way away. Maybe the experience I am growing is not just experience of my garden but a wider understanding of the issues of world food production, maybe I’m really growing understanding.



Kate said...

Yes Ian yes - growing understanding. You have hit the nail on the head! It sounds to me like you are overcoming the setbacks very quickly now you have worked them out. Failure is part of nature.

chaiselongue said...

Hi Ian - I've just discovered your blog through Kate in Australia... all the way round the world to get back to a neighbour in southern France! I've enjoyed reading it and shall follow it from now on. We used to spend holidays near Bergerac and it seemed to be such a good area for potagers - especially melons and tomatoes. Gardening is full of disappointments and struggles, but then amazing surprises and successes! Keep at it, and keep growing the understanding - that's what I feel we're doing here too.