Tuesday 27 June 2023

The local car boot

The village fête at St Jean-sur-Erve just down the road, is celebrated over the weekend.  Sunday starts with a car boot sale, so we wandered over to take a look.   I'm on the look-out for some big socket spanners (30mm and up). 

The sale was a bit thin, but then, who's complaining about the perfect excuse to visit the pretty lake early in the morning while it's still cool.   Shame about the dead water mill though.   Our grandchildren will be rebuilding them.

Sunday 25 June 2023

Cross-country run

You could argue that it's a bit hot for doing cross-country runs, but that didn't deter the participants in the Man'Erve trail last weekend.   There were three courses, the longest being 30Km.   So the most enthusiastic people set off at about 07h00 and rolled back in about 11-ish.   I helped cook the sausages, which was much less tiring, and listened to the musical entertainment.

Saturday 17 June 2023

Big farmer

There was a wedding in the village yesterday.  The elder daughter of the mayor was marrying the father of her kids.   The mayor is a farmer, as is at least one of his sons, and this daughter too, I  understand, has a farm out near Rennes.  I happened to wander in to the village just as the ceremony was ending, and saw the bride and groom depart on a platform fitted to the most humungous tractor that I have ever seen, and I've seen a few around here.   I don't think the pictures capture the size.  Big, it was.


You can get many carefully developed, and very fancy varieties of Aquilegia, also known as Columbine, but they don't last long and their seeds revert to the wild versions very quickly.   But still, it's nice to see these "Granny's Bonnets" growing in the hedgerow.

Friday 16 June 2023

Well chuffed

Madonna lillies looking good.

Tuesday 13 June 2023

Gardening update

The garden is coming into its Summer phase early this year, on account of the hot weather we have had.   

The pea plants are being productiven and the dwarf beans are growing.  I tried successive planting this year, and it looks like it has worked.   The lesson learnt here is not to use us all the available space on the first plantings.

I had a bad experience with commercial compost in seed trays this year and won't be repeating it: I have decided that no seed that can be sprouted in open ground will be started in seed trays.   So I am letting a few selected leeks run to seed in order to have plenty for planting outside next year.    Meanwhile the seedling leeks are nearly ready to transplant to their final places.

The Madonna lillies are looking good.   I have been plagued in previous years by bright red lilly bugs that devastate the plants.   This year I kept a lookout for them, and as soon as I saw one I caught and killed it.   They defend themselves by dropping off the plant at the first sign of danger, so I put a hand underneath to catch them.   Sometimes they just slide down the leaf and take refuge in the cranny between the leaf and the stem.   I also used a lolly stick smeared with honey as a trap - touch them with it and they stick to it.   In total I only got about 7, but I think that was all of them as I haven't seen any since the Springtime and the plants show no signs of damage.

Monday 12 June 2023

Dances with cows

A big event in Evron; a 2-day feria.   A celebration of music, a car boot sale, and derring-do with cows (vachettes), hosted by the Harmonie of Ste Suzanne.   We had a ticket for lunch and the last cow event on the Sunday.

Music was provided by Bandas from around the country, a Banda being a wind band that usually plays standing up, and marches/coreographs along to the music.  Each has its own style of outfit and presentation.    Best heard rather than listened to, and danced to with abandon whilst drunk.

The vachettes gave an interesting display.  They clearly had been carefully trained - they stopped advancing if the people climbed the barrier, and were very careful to avoid treading on people who were on the ground.   The professionals gave a performance of leaping over the charging vachettes or dodging them, and this was followed by people selected from the audience trying their luck, for example in an attempt to score goals by getting the cow to chase them between two goal posts.   Some with more luck than others.

And I also got 5 larger-size socket spanners at the car boot.  5 sizes, 26 - 30mm.

Wednesday 7 June 2023

Potato flowers

OK, you don't grow potatoes for the flowers.  However, they're a good indicator of plant maturity, and their blossoming announces that there are new potatoes to be had in exchange for a little digging.   

I planted them early this year, since they were already sprouting.   With an eye to the weather forecast for the following few weeks, they went out in March when there were no air frosts (3°C or less) predicted.   Forecasts that are three weeks ahead are subject to change, so I kept an eye on things, ready to cover any emerging sprouts with a tarpaulin whenever the frosts are forecast for that night.   By March any frosts lasting all day are probably over, so the tarpaulin approach will likely keep the plants alive.   A nasty cold snap, if it happens, could finish them off, so there is a risk involved.

I dug up the first potatoes yesterday.  Delicious.

Potatoes grown from tubers are clones of the parent plant.   New varieties are bred from seeds, but if you try this approach, be aware that the fruits are poisonous.

Sunday 4 June 2023

Plantfest, Chateau du Lude

The Château du Lude is an impressive backdrop for a plantfest, and it's only an hour away from us, so we went to take a look.   Given that our place is up for sale, it's difficult to be motivated to buy much in the way of plants, but we did succumb.

What I like about these events is the variety of plants that I haven't seen before.   Like these iris, almost completely black, but showing a violet hue against the sun.

We liked the cat profiles in iron (also to be found were farmyard animals, ducks and wild boar), and there were some spectacular rose displays.

In the end we bought at few geraniums for pots around the house, and I opted for some veg plants that I had never come across before.   They're all perennials, because I like the idea of an edible plant that lasts for ever.   I got a perpetual leek, that sends up multiple shoots when the plant regrows after dormancy (cut the shoots off at ground level and eat them), a tuberous onion that makes underground onions (plant a few to multiply the plant and eat the rest), and a perennial basil (keep it dry and not too cold over Winter).

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