Monday 21 May 2018



Finally got the potatoes planted by the middle of last week. Most years we'd be looking at the first harvest in a week or two. If we get some rain we might have 'first earlies' by the end of July. In the meantime I resorted to the supermarket for the French equivalent of Jersery Royals. If you're tempted to research them on Wikipedia don't be alarmed at my profligacy, far from the quote of 70€ a kilo these cost me just 6€90 and the week after were at half that.

dudi flower

As usual I've planted far too many seeds, amongst them a couple of Dudi plants which I'll grow in the poly tunnel once the oca are out. Last time I grew them in 2014 it was just warm enough outside but with only one plant it was a struggle to get fruit, the plants produce male and female flowers at different times so self pollination  is almost impossible without a helping hand and some good luck.  Also in the greenhouse waiting a chance to break out;
Chinese cucumbers (just like the usual greenhouse sort)
Far more tomatoes than anyone needs
Pepper and chilli plants (and I have more seed of an esoteric type coming this week)
Dioscorea japonica in a pot, but there's some in the ground which will probably come up through the potatoes again.
Adlay in three or four varieties (Job's tears, hard and soft shelled sorts)
Naked oats
Tef (cereal staple)
Ornamental rice and sorghum
Lemon grass seedlings although they're looking a bit ill.

In the ground, or expected there soon;
Potatoes - Premier, Pink Fir Apple, Ambo, Sarpo Mira
Pumpkins - Whangaparoa Crown and Sweet Dumpling
Courgettes - of no particular variety supplied by Fothergills
Lettuce - a red one, I cheated and bought baby plants on whim in the supermarket.
Crosnes - The French call them Japanese artichoke.
Peas - Sugar Ann, Raisin Capujiner and a couple of Gold Harvest which Rhizowen gave me earlier this year, not sure if I'll start any others, it's getting a bit late.
At least 25 Petit vert de Paris cornichon plants. I had 100% germination from some old home saved seed and they're going to need a new bed digging.

Until another time...

Sunday 6 May 2018

Spring proper


The May blossom is out, has been for a couple of days and I think that probably shows the seasons and weather are now in agreement. There have been years past when the weather has been more clement and the blossom still hasn't shown until the 8th or 9th. So, although our swings have been more violent so far this year the equilibrium seems to be maintained.

spring map

Still very few butterflies but it was good to catch this Spring Map on the land cress. I've seen a few around in the last week but only this one stayed still long enough for accurate identification.


A wood is a wood is a wood. This picture which so closely resembles the header shot taken 12 years ago is in another part of the 2000+ hectares of the forĂȘt de Cerisy which enfolds us on its south western boundary.  It is so very beautiful.
raven in wood

I took the cats for a walk through the trees. I've never had cats that enjoy going for walks so much and every time I set out for a meander one, two or all three will join me, racing around and tearing up trees (Raven told me she was stuck, luckily within my reach even if she was lying) and jumping the stream with me. The woods are particularly enticing for them, I suspect they don't venture in far on their own but trust me to see off anything nasty. 


And the first flowers on the elder are showing.

Tuesday 1 May 2018


It's the first of May and the lilac is blooming. Not my favourite flowers but pretty and welcome after another dramatic weather swing from splendidly warm to torrential downpours.

We caught the edge of the rainstorms that covered much of northern France and southern England over the weekend and have been thoroughly soaked by the deluge which also saw temperatures drop to 2C or 3C overnight on Sunday and Monday. The time was spent huddled in front of a fire with the cats but nothing very much was done outside and so we're now still further behind.

The sun returned today, rather weak and with the wind still making it cold. Too wet to dig so I occupied myself with pricking out seedlings. Fifty oca seedlings are already up and on their way from an April Fool's day sowing. They will be joined by more as soon as the next batch of seeds germinate. There were also, somewhat to my surprise fifty seedling potatoes from the true potato seed started at the same time. It's a worry in a way, I've nowhere to put the tuber starts yet and finding homes for another 50 plants is going to be hard, but potatoes from seed have great attraction because you never know what you'll get so there's plenty of novelty to look forward to. Commercial breeders raise thousands before selecting just a few to develop for sale. Most of mine will have little value to them but I might strike lucky and find my blight resistant, hardy chipper. 

Gardening is all swings and roundabouts though, the six globe artichoke plants raised from seed last year and apparently safely through the winter have simply turned up their toes and died in the last two weeks. No idea why, the weather must have something to do with it but the collapse was total. Very discouraging.

Happy Beltane, may the summer join us soon.