Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back in the Garden

Regular readers will know that the Kitchen Garden in France is situated at my home near Issigeac in the Perigord Region of South West France.   The property also has a self contained  holiday apartment.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been very busy constructing a swimming pool for use by our holiday guests.  It is a part of a grand scheme..... which will probably take longer to complete than the 300 years the main house has already been standing for....

Anyway, I mention this simply because, for the past two or three weeks, day after day I have been building this kit and not attending to my garden.... and therefore not having very much to write about in my blog....  You may have noticed a move away from kitchen garden towards la vie Français...  the parties I have written about were wonderful events and deserved their place in the blog.  The article on Summer and sunflowers similarly. 

However, tonight I want to return to the dirt....


So... I have some red cabbage which have been in for a long time now and are looking superb.  Onions and Garlic are ready to pull and will be out of the ground tomorrow I would guess..  The strawberry patch has been ok... It was planted late and although we have had a few berries we are expecting the main crop next year.  The plants have really established though, and I have just about twice as many as I planted back in April/May

The one rhubarb crown has been prolific this year and I have been cutting and freezing for a month or so now.  I'm thinking of moving the crown around November time but am unsure as I hear bad storied of people moving them....  My intention was to lift and divide it and move it at the same time.

A few days ago, I sowed some broccoli which are now up and with tiny little leaves.   I'm not ever so successful with seeds so anything like this is a challenge.   They have survived so far.....  Today I sowed some batavia lettuce (a French version of Webbs, I think)and on Tuesday some Fennel.

Tomatoes have been my biggest success this year.  Tomato plants ended up dotted about and that hasn't proved too good for watering etc.  Next year I really must put aside some space and grow all my tomatoes in one place.....

But we haven't bought tomatoes for several weeks now and are enjoying the different varieties.... Marmande, cherry red, golden sunrise... and a "unknown"variety which Michael and Mary gave me.

On the beans front, I have been very unsuccessful.   Patrick, over at Bifurcated Carrots gave me some Dog Bean seeds earlier in the year.   I have grown them but not at all well.   I think the spot I chose was too shaded and I did get them in the ground quite late as well.   The few beans I have had have tasted wonderful though... but not enough for a good meal.  I'm not giving up with these and am hoping to sow some again next year... a bit earlier and maybe in a better spot and hopefully have a bumper crop.....  IMG_0060

I mentioned that Michael and Mary had given me some tomato plants.  I didn't realise until recently that Mary is quite a kitchen gardener herself.  I stole this photo whilst she wasn't looking  during a recent visit to see them.

I've been eating salad leaves for some time now and haven't bought any recently.  I have 3 varieties of lettuce, as well as some wild chicory.   I recently entertained a professional chef for dinner.... which was quite daunting... but he commented very favourably on the fact I had included mint leaves in with the mixed salad leaves.....

Lettuce is bolting now as the hot weather hits but I'm looking a shady bed where maybe I can persuade some to grow for a little longer yet....

Finally, in the herb garden, I'm doing ok with the basics, basil, flat leaf parsley, mint and dill, all growing in containers on the terrace.


Patrick said...

Did you manage to save any seeds from your plants?

The reason I ask is I think the seeds I sent you are now too old. I had some problems getting them to grow myself, and I think by next year they won't be good anymore. If you didn't manage to save any new seeds, I should send you some fresh seeds from this year's crop.

Bean seeds are only good for a couple of years.

Ian said...

hi Patrick.
I'm afraid I didn't get to save any seeds... I had some of the ones you sent me, left over and was intending to use those. I did get to eat the beans and the few I got were delicious.

Patrick said...

I'll send some more seeds when I get a chance. Do you want anything else at the same time? Garlic? Something else? Send me an email if you want to know more about what I have.

As far as when you plant the beans, it's really very flexible and it depends on what you want to do. For example, I just sowed a bunch more dog beans and am hoping for another harvest this year late in the fall.

For green (french) beans, maturity is about 60 days. For dried beans or seeds, maturity is about 90 days. You just have to make sure you plant them early enough so the plants don't get killed prematurely by the first frost.

Also, beans hate cold ground, so be careful not to plant them too early in the spring. Mostly if you plant them too early, you just don't gain anything in terms of early maturity. Sometimes with an early planting the beans don't get a good start, and never become healthy plants. It's better to plant too late than too early.