Tuesday 27 April 2021

The season

We've had such a warm Springtime here that I feel like I'm way behind in the garden.   It's so warm that it seems like the plants should be more advanced, and that I should have done rather more than I have.   But in reality, we're not yet into May, and we haven't necessarily had the last frosts; these warm spells can give a false sense of security.

So we take pleasure in the early Iris that are out, and offer another exhibit in my bid for a job as BBC wildlife photographer; a hare in the garden this morning.

Sunday 25 April 2021

Second hand

I needed a vat to hold water for the new veg area that I have been working on.  It would be difficult to buy one, since the nearest shop that has one in stock is at Le Mans, and we can't go there until the lockdown restrictions are lifted, planned for May 3rd.   I suppose I could wait.

Anita hit on the idea of looking for a more local, used one that we could get immediately.   And there it was, on Facebook marketplace, not 10Km from us, brand, new, unused, a bit over half price.   What's not to like?  We went to get it.

So I spent most of today preparing an area for a concrete base for it.  Tomorrow I'll buy the concrete, and I'll have the vat in place shortly.

Saturday 24 April 2021

Soggy moggy

Cat came in this morning covered in cow manure.  How on earth did he manage that?  He's had a shower and is not happy, and he still smells of cow.

*Sings:*  Smelly cat, smelly cat, what are you swimming in?

Seed time

I've been busy in the garden.   Now is the time for planting veg seeds for the forthcoming season.  I'm trying out a few things for the first time, including getting sweet potatoes to grow.  We kept a shop-bought specimen in the fridge and last week I chopped it into chunks and planted them.  We shall see.

The tomatoes and sweet peppers are doing well, and I'll put them out once the last frosts are past.   At the moment, the forecast is for 3°C on Wednesday 28th, so if on that date the forecast for the next few weeks is still for nothing colder, I'll plant them out.

I've expanded the veg area somewhat.  Last year I cleared out the brambles from a new area, and I have been slowly pick-axeing the stones and rocks out of it.   I don't think it has ever been ploughed.   I take hope for the quality of the soil in the fact that it's got lots of nettles, a weed that is picky about soil nutrients.   So I have a new, useful area just in front of a low SW-facing dry stone wall, that I expect will retain the sun's heat.   I have put plastic netting in front of it for climbing plants, and put peas down this morning.   I also bought some black plastic water pipe so I can water the area.

The raised beds are more or less under control.  In the far one you can just about see the twisty tomato stakes in place ready to recieve the plants, the next one has the over-wintered broad beans.   This is the second year I have tried these and again I'm disappointed by the success rate.  Only about half of them germinated, and of those that did, only about 3/4 have survived.   I will get a (small) early crop however, and I'll plant the remaining beans that I have in the gaps, for a later crop.   Meanwhile I've planted carrots, beetroot, parsnips and spinach in the same bed alongside them.   

The next bed is ready for onions and other root crops, and is yielding the last of the brassicas from last year, in the form of purple sprouting broccolli.  In the next bed the bean stakes are ready for the Borlotti beans.   These have an excellent flavour and Anita uses them in a superb cassoulet that she makes, an activity that I like to encourage.

The gooseberry bed is a mess, so moving on, the nearest raised bed is for brassicas.  The sprouts are well-advanced but the rest seemed to take a dislike to the compost I used: they germinated, but then stopped growing, so I have planted new seeds directly into the soil.

Lastly I have put a tarpaulin down in the new area in front of the wall, for growing squash.  I have butternut seeds left from last year and new seeds of a red Uchiki Kuri squash. Next projects are for sweet corn, climbing French beans, and dwarf French beans.

Thursday 15 April 2021

Life lessons

 Consider the domestic cat....

Wednesday 7 April 2021


Two things broke last week; the pressure washer and the pick-axe.   

I was levering a big stone out of the ground with the pick-axe and the handle broke.   It was a modern handle, yellow, I took it to be made of fibre glass but it had a hard central core.  It was slightly flexible and, I thought, unbreakable.  Nope.   The core was fine, but the surround had split all the way around.  I bought a new one in our local garden supplies shop.

The pressure washer was was working, and then it wasn't.  It was quietly humming to itself instead of squirting water.  Most likely the capacitor had failed.   It was easy enough to get inside the case, but I couldn't get the old capacitor out because the water-filled cooling jacket for the motor was in the way.  I really didn't want to unscrew the jacket, but in the end I had to.  I don't think the manufacturer wanted me to undo it either; the screws were very tight.  But I got it out and am waiting for a new one to arrive.  Joys of internet shopping.   We'll see if removing the water jacket was a bad idea, when the time comes to restart it.

P.S.  I got the capacitor, fitted it, plugged everything in, and the Kärcher started.  We haven't yet run it for any great length of time, so we don't know if there are any internal leaks that might cause the electrics to trip out.

Tuesday 6 April 2021

Short walk with Daffs

The daffodils are nearly finished, but the later varieties are still out.   We buy a few bulbs most years and plant them where we don't think there are any already.  So we have a shifting yellow carpet as the early, mid-season and late varieties come out in bloom.  At this time, the Tulips are taking over.   I don't know how the red one got there....

I have mentioned before that a new cellular network antenna is being installed just down the road.  I walked past the place and it looks like they are building a separate concrete base (for a tower?)  where it will be installed.    The information I had was that it was going to be on the North gable end of the museum so I thought it would just be attached to the existing wall.  In either case it will be about 70 yards line-of-sight of our place so I'm looking forward to good mobile reception.

You can see the concrete platform in the first picture, and in the second picture, you can see the tip of the gable to the right of centre, and our house and gîte at the top of the hill in the background.

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