Friday, 15 March 2013

New life

OK, so the start of Spring may be experiencing a bit of a stutter with a sharp drop in temperature and 2 days  of light snow down at our level, but still, there are signs of new life. I am not just talking about the seeds that I sowed indoors at the start of the month, although they are doing very well thank you (all 5 varieties of tomatoes have emerged, as have the aubergine, 3 varieties of salad leaf, red onions, leeks and basil). The other very important new life is that of my first grandchild! Yes, one has become a granny! How amazing is that! My son and his lovely lady are the proud parents of Rufus, born at home on Thursday 7 March weighing in at 7lb4oz.

Isn't he a cutey pie? I have to wait another 2 weeks before I can see him but I can't wait to say hello to the little fella!

Any other news pales into insignificance alongside the arrival of my grandson really, but for my own records as much as anything else, we have been busy. Work has started on the second bedroom....

with the first and most unpleasant job being to pull down the pine panelling that covered the ceiling and beam. Rats had previously had access to that ceiling space and we collected four big bin bags full of dried rat poo, rats nests, dirt, old corn husks and various other detritus. It was pretty foul.
But the good news is that the wonderfully rustic old chestnut beam is in fantastic condition, with no sign of insect or beetle damage. It cleaned up well.....
... and looks fantastic after an initial coat of linseed oil
Next job, the electrics and then we can start work on the ceiling.

During the lovely warm weather that we had up until Tuesday, I was able to get a lot of work done on the potager, preparing the ground for my plantings and sowings. I dug in the green manure of field beans that I sowed back in the autumn and cannot believe the difference that it has made to the soil. Instead of being heavy and claggy and a nightmare to work, it felt light and airy and much easier to dig over. Hopefully my brassicas will appreciate it! Next week, our farmer neighbour Alain will be coming down with his tractor to turn over the section of land that adjoins my potager in order to effectively double its size. I am going to create a soft fruit area and also make use of the extra space to grow more veg. I don't think there's any chance of me being bored this summer!

Monday, 4 March 2013


Yup, goodbye snow, hello sun! OK, realistically, we'll probably have a few more cold, damp days before Spring really gets into gear, but for the moment, just allow me to bask in the notion that the corner has been turned? With 19 deg C being reached today, I don't think it is unjustified!

With Spring my thoughts turn to sowings and plantings and how to get the most out of my potager this year. Over the past couple of days, I have started my indoor sowings. For my records as much as anything else, this is the tally so far;
- chilli pepper (Cayenne)
- chilli pepper (Ring of Fire)
- capsicum (Marconi Red)
- capsicum (Sweet Banana)
- aubergine (AvanHF1)
- plum tomato (Roma)
- cherry tomato (Tumbling Red)
- stripey tomato (Red Zebra)
- ordinary tomato (San Marzano)
- lettuce (Lollo Rosso, Webbs Wonderful and Winter Density)
- red onion seeds (Red Baron)
- basil
- sweet peas

I have had some dwarf peas and mangetout outside under a cloche for the winter and a few have survived and are growing strongly. Today, as the soil is warm, I have sowed some more under there, along with some carrots. The Charlotte potatoes are chitting indoors and I will be sowing courgette, kuri squash and butternut squash indoors this week too. I have had some leeks in the ground since late September and they are taking up a lot of space without appearing to grow at all. Does anybody know if they are a lost cause or whether I should just pull the whole lot out so that I can use the space for other things? I am thinking the latter!

Whilst we have had such good weather, we have taken the chance to clear up a bit outside, sorting piles of old wood, building a bonfire, loading the trailer for a trip to the tip.... the place is looking much tidier.

With the changing seasons, the Spring flowers are starting to some through. My favourite so far is Viola Alba ...
... closely followed by Hepatica Nobilis (both the purple and the white are SO pretty)

... although these little red fungii are fascinating...