Excitement Mounts as does a Weedy Weekend Window

Can you see what I see?

Yes 3 days of sunshine are predicted. Now I know you may look at the temperature and say brrr - but will you just focus on that sun symbol! Do you know how positively giddy that makes me feel? We’ve had weeks of rain and grey clouds, a few glimpses of blue sky here and there, the odd peak of the sun but the predominant weather pattern has been cool and wet and windy and grey. Bluerrgh.

I realise now that those grey clouds made me feel flat. Deflated. In fact they made me feel grey too. I need sunshine in my life.

I’ve just come back from the plot after a quick session of weeding, I took a couple of snaps with my phone to share, so I’m sorry about the lack of quality – but you’ll get the picture (literally!)

I think the nasturtiums are on a takeover bid. I leave them to self seed every year, let them ramble around, they smother the weeds, they attract the good buzzies and detract the baddies away from my precious delicate veggies. Nasturtiums come in every colour – from deep maroon-red, bright orange-reds, vibrant yellows and pale-yellows.

A real burst of vibrancy, so even when the sun isn’t shining I do get a burst of sunshine and warmth looking at them. I plan to pick a few seeds this year to try and make some capers – poor mans capers are made with nasturtiums. We’ll see if I get round to it, if it works and if I like them. We have to try new things don’t we.

And then there is this. A real piece of sunshine. A bright yellow courgette flower – hopefully one of many.

And as I’m working tomorrow I’ll be out and about this weekend enjoying the sunshine, and yes my sunhat will get an outing! Hoorraayyy! ! I’ll be weeding – all that rain has made the weeds grow like crazy monsters but it also means they are easy to pull up by the roots. Let’s call it a Weedy Weekend or maybe a Weed Window might be more accurate before the sun dries the heavy clay soil. The combination of rain and sunshine makes weeding a simple task. And as I weed and try and tame the plot I’ll take the big camera up and we’ll do a show and tell, a progress report for all you growers and foodies alike.

And tonight’s meal? A real allotment meal. I picked the first courgette today. Ding Ding Ding! Alongside a bowlful of spinach, chard and beetroot leaves, a forkful (garden sized) of New Potatoes – so maybe a Sag Aloo. A handful of sweet tasting peas. How do I know they are sweet tasting? I munch on them while I’m weeding,. so I can see a peas pilau to go with the Sag Aloo and maybe a dal. The courgette – who knows, perhaps raw in a salad with a light vinaigrette for starters?

This meal tonight is beginning to sound rather grand isn’t it! But it’s inception is as I wander around the plot and look at what needs picking, what is ready and as I picked a few leaves I mulled a few ideas around and there you have it – a mini Indian feast of fresh garden vegetables.

And then there are the beetroot, I could always make a beetroot pichadi but to be honest I’m more likely to roast them and have them as a salad over the coming days. Time and energy will tell.

And as I pulled the last of the radishes, they are getting too big now the skins toughen up and the inners go woody. The good ones to eat, the remaining composted; and while I’m talking about radishes I’ll write a reminder to myself to sow a handful more this weekend. In the meantime there are always radish pickles. Crunch and munch my friends.

Ahhhh that’s better isn’t it. Happy days are here again !

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Oh la la la la ~ le shopping

I guess for most people when they think about shopping in France they think of Parisian boulevards and their designer shops, artful window displays and smart doormen at the ready. Or maybe you think of markets laden with fresh produce, cheeses and meats from the provinces, fresh fish from the Atlantic coast.

But for someone who has a gardening gene in her, these boutiques hold little appeal. This gardening gene must run deep within me because I haven’t bothered much with the markets here in the Alps, the occasional forray for some cheese from a local producer has been about my limit.

But as we start to pack up and prepare to leave (have I mentioned this before? Cue rolling of eyes…..!) I had to go shopping – garden shopping that is. How could I pass up the opportunity of paying a visit to a local garden centre? Exactement mes amis!

I had a couple of “must-haves” in mind, some Radis Noir and Cornichon. We have really enjoyed eating the Cornichon (Gherkin) we buy in jars, and I’m sure homegrown and home marinated would be even more delectable. They are part of the cucumber/pumpkin family and I grow these all the time, but the crunch of a pickled cucumber is appealing and a new one for me to grow.

Then there are the Radis Noir (Navet Noir Long), you see these all the time in winter in France – a winter Radish, a chunky dark brown-skinned radish with wonderful crisp white flesh on the inside. They are not the most photogenic of vegetables to grow, but make a lovely addition to a winter salad, or used instead of turnips in a stir fry or stew or just on their own a top of a slice of buttered bread.

And then of course as this gardening gene runs so deep and with a little encouragement I bought a few more packets – I take very little encouragement by the way! A few of these, some of those and sure enough we have some plans and dreams.

A packet of Royal Chantenay carrots – lovely little orange stubby carrots, perfect for the clay soil in the allotment, I will plant some rows between the garlic (classic inter-crop and companion planting).

And then there had to be some beans – a box of Flagolets were winking at me, I swear they were! Plus some yellow dwarf beans (De Rocquencourt). A smattering of Fennel for autumn/winter eating, an Italian variety of Poiree or Swiss Chard to be picked young like spinach, an all year round variety of Cauliflower (will they be a success??), some Romanesco seeds, again will it grow well for me? And finally a packet of Mesclun that looked like a pretty and irresistable mix.

Hopefully come this summer and winter we will have a petit momento of France in our vegetable garden to remind us of our soujourn. Bon chance mes amis