Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Our Potager at the End of a Very Busy May

As a grower of fresh produce, I never know if weather conditions will allow getting into the ground soon enough what I planned to do way back in the quiet of winter.

Pods for sure, but half of the patch is still at the flowering stage

Peas and new potatoes need to be planted early in the season which would be around late February/early March in southwest France. Their maturity takes about three months from sowing and requires cool temperatures, especially les petit pois. This season they were introduced into their soil home in April which means end-of-June harvesting. Hopefully there won't be a canicule (heat-wave) occurring before then!

Flowers usually signal potato harvesting is close; no blooms yet for this Artemis variety

The tomato seedlings were developed enough for planting in mid-April but various cold snaps prevented that from happening. Instead of being too frustrated, I took comfort from the French version of the European traditional rule-of-thumb, that is, les saintes de glace, which govern when outdoor spring planting is safe from cold temperatures. There is an ice saint for each of three days in mid-May, but the really big shot is St. Urbain (link in French) who is the final arbiter. Since his day falls on May 25, I tell myself that it is perfectly OK that the tomatoes went in just today.

The bed was staked shortly after

Shallots were planted for the first time. What an engaging grouping of perky green tufts!

These delicious & versatile aromatics are fantastic culinary additions

Since annual vegetables can be so challenging in terms of planting deadlines, perennial edibles are a welcome relief.

Blackberries are beginning to fruit

This winter our small peach tree (pruned to keep it manageable) was sprayed* for the first time with Bordeaux mixture to combat a very persistent case of leaf curl (caused by the fungus Taphrina deformans). Then after leafing out, it was sprayed with a different product to vanquish the ever ingenious blackfly (the sometimes winged black aphid). Ants love their sticky excretions so much that they protect the aphids from predators.

Not many peaches, but they are all clean of insect goo

In the flower garden, peonies are shaking out their ruffled, deep-pink petals.

Lavender in the background

The David Austin climbing rose, Falstaff, is showing off its deeply fragrant, quartered, crimson-touched-with-purple blooms in cascades.


Mixing with the scent of the bi-coloured Bourbon rose, Ferdinand Pichard, is the perfume of entwining honeysuckle.


Taking a break from tomato planting could not be better spent than being ensconced under the pergola flanked by these flowers which regale both the eyes and the nose. 


À la prochaine!

*Spraying is done on windless, dry days via an applicator filled with the right dilution of the appropriate product.