Wednesday, May 16, 2012

our first potager....or grow your own!

We had promised ourselves that when we were finally settled here in France we would, in common with our neighbours, begin to grow fruit and vegetables. It is all part of the way of life we have come to value so deeply. It means we know when we eat our own home grown plants where they have come from and that they have not been sprayed with insecticide or any other chemicals and so we are eating the best that we can.
We started to buy plants in the market in Cluny in April. But, being warned by neighbours and friends that we should wait until mid May before planting out, we kept the plants sheltering on the verandah/gallery, and when it went very cold we brought in the 2 cherry tomato plants, the 3 pepper plants and the 2 courgettes so they could enjoy the warmth of the house at night. It has been wonderful to watch them grow - and indeed to watch the development of the vine outside the house,
The vine has begun it's annual growth spurt!
 and the cherry tree and plum trees in the garden. I don't think I have ever been this close to growing nature and it is amazing how fast plants develop.

The plums are growing well! - and it looks as if we will have a big crop!

The cherry tomatoes are developing well in their tub!

When we noticed that it was less cold at night, we begin to "harden" off the plants ready to put into the garden. We had been given a cheque by dear friends who are keen and skilled gardeners with the proviso that it was to begin our French garden and we did as asked and bought a wooden cold frame with a liner. We bought soil to go in it mixing it with compost that is formed from our plant waste in the house such as potato and carrot scrapings and tea bags, onion skins etc. The amount of soil needed was quite a lot but we will try to recycle it and add compost to it as we re-use it. We did plant some things earlier that mid May, and put them in the cold frame and covered it at night with a plastic sheet.  We had bought some lettuce plants and beetroot in to begin with and we have watered them and cared for them with an attentiveness born of a new experience!

The cold frame is full now with lettuces, tomatoes and beetroots!

In England we have grown bulbs and had annuals in pots in the garden and occasionally grown tomatoes in grow bags, but never actually bought vegetables and nurtured them. Here we are surrounded by neighbours who grow fruit and vegetables to supplement their diet and save money buying from market and supermarket.
The plastic sheet seems to have worked well as does the nurturing of the plants in their early stages as now planted out they are growing almost visibly!
After the first plants had gone into the cold frame we waited a couple of weeks then bought another lot of lettuces, thinking they would develop later than the first batch so we will have a supply through the summer. We also planted the beetroots and then more lettuces. Then last week we bought more lettuces, salad onions, leeks, strawberries, cucumbers and a raspberry cane and began to prepare a patch of land at the top of the garden. It is a bit of a pain really as water and tools have to be carried up the steps to the lofty heights!
The veg patch or "potager" is taking shape!

However it is not a problem for one of next door's cats who was sunning himself when I went up to take the photos!

 Perhaps we will extend it again and plant more but it is early days in our "gardening world" and we want to go slowly and make sure we are doing it right. Each time we have planted things in the garden, I have thought about my own late beloved dad. He loved to grow things and I loved his company so much that I was often in the garden with him. He would grow all sorts of things and had a big garden. I'm hoping some of his skills have been inherited by me. Joe has never had the opportunity of growing vegetables before because he was brought up in a town centre so for us both this is a new adventure!
We are pleased to see that the plums are forming on the trees around the garden and also the cherries too. That means we can make jam for our guests - and we know exactly how it's made and where the fruit comes from.
We are blessed to live in such a fertile place!


  1. Enjoying reading about 'the good life' in Toury! Well done for all the nurturing you are doing. Also remembering your dad's wonderful Jersey potatoes in particular!!

    1. Perhaps one day I'll find a way to get hold of some seed potatoes for Jersey Royals and try planting them here! I hope you may benefit from the lettuce growing when you come and may be the cherries and plums!