Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Whooosh...It's Glorious Spring!

Spring has exploded in the southwest of France. Though all the rushing around is exhilarating, I try not to get overwhelmed as various windows of opportunities get ready to slam shut right on my soil-encrusted fingers.  Therefore from time to time, I walk through the garden while pretending I am a visitor who appreciates the whole garden and nothing but the whole garden with its freshness, colour, fragrance, inspiration, and companionship.

Maple & box elder in background; lilacs, bearded irises, roses & violets in foreground.

So invigorating to see pastel lilacs etched against the vivid blue sky.

How lilac panicles flower: lovely contrast between darker buds and opened blossoms.

Briefly I can forget the nagging evidence of pressing tasksWhat weeds which will become almost impossible to remove once the soil dries as hard a rock? What block bed needing spading this instant to allow sowing spinach so in one and half months I can transplant the tomatoes into the same bed?  What transplants bursting out of their small pots?  What fresh growth on established plants that will get too big for cuttings if I don't get my secateurs out this second? I don't see any!  I see just exuberant life.

The larger of the two apple trees is casting its shadow on the lawn.

If that fails, I go and munch some digestive biscuits which The Calm One keeps in a cupboard near my potting room in the sous sol and of which he thinks I am unaware.  Or I should say, he once thought I was unaware as the stack of cookies' rapid loss of height, that is, a reverse Pinocchio's nose, reveals my behaviour. Increased caloric output coupled with no spare time necessitates snacking, quick meals, and even better, food cooked by someone else. Knowing my last and long-awaited nursery order has finally arrived and that my presence in the kitchen will be sparse if not completely non-existent, The Calm One has made his family's classic, Kitchen Sink Potato Salad It will feed us for about four days. Yay!

Please pile it on! And then some.

It goes well with Saucisses de Strasbourg.  OK, hotdogs!

Walking around the quartier is also a way to relax and provides the opportunity to see others' front gardens.

Bluebells in the centre background, flanked by peonies and fronted with overhanging aubrieta.

In the potager, the garlic planted last autumn was recently fertilised. Dayo helpfully reminds me however that I still need to weed and mulch the bed.

Temporary feline mulch

I tell him that I am waiting for the fresh grass clippings to dry out.

I managed to spade around the small peach tree in the background, but still have to weed & fertilize it, like yesterday!

In between planting the onion sets and the early potatoes, I remembered to put spinach seeds in water for an overnight soaking which encourages faster germination.  Fresh seed is crucial to get a good yield from spinach.  Since I plant two crops, one in early spring and another in late summer, I go through a packet in one year.

I love my new & oh so soft gardening gloves:  chocolate/chartreuse suede & leather sensuality!

Spaded, one-inch-deep furrowed bed waiting for spinach to be sown

After draining the soaking water--I use an old, small kitchen sieve--dry the seeds on a paper towel so they can be more easily placed in the furrows (made with the pole end of the rake) and put about twelve of the large seeds, each spaced several inches apart, in short rows for a four-foot-wide block bed.  Using a rake, cover with soil, tamp down with the back of the rake, water and keep surface moist until they sprout.

Dayo himself gets overwhelmed at times:  should he sip from one of his preferred drinking vessels or should he inspect the newly arrived blueberry plants?

White flake in the watering can is an apple blossom petal; sometimes their determined flurries resemble snow.

Being conscientious, his thirst can wait a bit longer until he finishes the more pressing task of ensuring the blueberries are in a good state.

The bay leaf harvest starts in spring as their pungency lessens as late summer/autumn approaches, though I have been known to pick their evergreen leaves when there is snow on the groundHarvest alternately up and down the stems so as not to leave bare patches.  Wash, dry, and place on a rack or a plate for about two weeks until you can crack a leaf in half and the bracing and uplifting fragrance is noticeable.  Put in lidded bottles--I reserve the small jars which capers come in for storing dried herbs.

À la prochaine!


Planting garlic cloves
Sowing Onion sets
Planting potatoes