Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Tomatoes or Bust

It had to be this last weekend. The next two weekends, I am not available for planting in my own garden. And that leads us to ... the 11th of June? Way too late.

As we in the Finance Department at work are also responsible for the plants out front of the office (figure that one out), I knew that my able assistant Stacey was off to Homebase for some more compost. Having visited there with her a few weeks ago, I also knew that there were some lovely tomatoes on offer, with Jamie Oliver's name attached.

Yes, I like Jamie Oliver, although I do find his recipes a bit too complicated and ingredient-heavy (I'm more of a fan of the cooking style of Nigella Lawson and Nigel Slater). But I appreciate the fact that he wants to get the nation eating more healthily. And is a big proponent of "grow your own".

Never one to miss a trick, he's teamed up with Homebase and really, these tomatoes look very interesting. Heritage varieties, apparently.

The Heritage varieties are: Black Cherry, Tangella and Red Zebra. All very new to me. And then there are the "Novelty" varieties; Tomatoberry, Cintrina, and Green Zebra (I let Stacey pick them out, when I was on the other end of the phone. I blame her if I get some useless tomatoes, although I'm sure they will be wonderful).

Well, why not try something new? I was a bit bored with the variety at my local garden centre.

So in situ, you might notice I have forgone the track in between this year.

I'm trying to leave space at the end, for those new neighbours ... so far, so good, but update on that coming soon. You see there is still space in front for the lettuces and perhaps radishes. Not too closely planted, I hope, but not in a row anymore, more like my sister does in her tomato patch in France.

All I can hope is, that someone does some watering when I am away!

I am so excited for my trip, I can't even begin to tell you.

Sunday, 15 May 2011


And thank you. With much love.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Long Game


I've never been very good at them. I tried some germination of flowers, early on, on my windowsill. You may remember. The only thing I've been lucky with is Basil. Which to be honest, is pretty easy. Once you pot them up, and leave to germinate, after all thought of frost has gone, it's a doddle.

But last year, on a visit to my parents, I discovered this, at Cantigny Gardens in Wheaton, Illinois. With my friend Olivia. We went there for lunch with her mother, and had a wonderful afternoon.

It blew me away. I hunted it down, and finally found what it was, and finally found the seeds. It is Nemesia Strumosa KLM.

It's an annual, *sigh* hey ho. Have to plant it every year. But I was completely in love. I had to have it. I found it. Not in time for last year, but this.

So, armed with my seeds, and a big beautiful pot, I have planted it up with seeds.

But first, I will introduce you to the handy, easy to carry compost. 30 litres in an easy carry block. Weighs nothing. Without a car, this is a dream come true. I've used this several times.

So here we are

Put it in a barrow, and add water.

Hey presto, 30 minutes later, and some mixing, you have some good compost. Without having to carry a big bag of it back home.

Here is my big beautiful pot, full of lovely seeds. My fingers and toes are crossed.

And guess what?? They are coming up!!! I am so, so, so excited!! I planted this two weeks ago before my French trip - I looked outside yesterday, hmmmmm ... I looked outside today?? It's coming up!!!! A big beautiful bowl of Nemesia, I hope!!!!!!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Le Jardinage Francais

That's French gardening, to you and me.

Another 4-day weekend, this time I decided to visit my sister in the suburbs of Paris.

They have a lovely house, with a lovely garden, and since I seem to be the "expert" in the family, I expected to do some gardening. I could escape the wedding, but not the weekend gardening. Pas de probleme.

First stop, on Saturday, (after a lovely lunch on the barbeque, thanks to Pascal) a garden centre. I go to Paris, and get excited by a garden centre? Yes. I've never seen such a selection of geraniums.

A beautiful place, with a beautiful shop full of home-y things attached, "Le Fleuriage" in Croissy. Highly recommended. I'd like to drive there some time, and fill the boot of the car with flowering plants. This picture cannot convey the huge selection of geraniums on offer, colours I have never seen. Makes what I planted the weekend previous look pale in comparison.

So she purchased a selection of geraniums, but that wasn't the total gardening plan.

No, we needed to re-site the vegetable patch. Where it was, after the neighbour planted up a hedge and some plants on his side of the fence, was causing too much shade. Besides, they say you need to re-site your tomatoes every few years or so. This is four years since they planted up the tomato patch, and last year was a dull crop. I understand their concern, so needs must.

(All these brilliant action shots to follow are thanks to the lovely Laura!)

We moved across the road, as it were. Away from the fence, now next to the wall. Had to completely dig up a huge patch of Iris

And then chop up the soil. Not an easy task. When she texted me on Wednesday before I left and asked if I was "up for some gardening" I wasn't entirely prepared! But we got stuck in.

Haaaaaa, hahaha, like I did any of the hard work with the pick-axe. No, I'm afraid I left it to the boys.

At top is Pascal, at the bottom is the neighbour, Ivanov. Next to him is his wife, Marie, who is wondering what the heck he's doing working so hard in someone else's garden. Amazing, what he did. They are very neighbourly, in her neighbourhood. He did most of it, I just went back and picked out the rocks. Both sides.

Here is the final product:

On top, by the way, is ash. As in, ash from your fireplace or whatnot (that was a contribution from the neighbours as well. Lovely people.) Keeps away slugs/snails. I certainly learned something from that. A few bags of compost, and a bag of manure at my recommendation, and that patch is ready for some lovely tomato plants. Can't wait to see the results!

Ah. One final note. When I said, in my bad French, "I speak French very badly" (or rather, "je parle le francais tres mal"), I heard a chorus, from the French around me, "ah, non, non, tu parle tres bien"; I think they were being very nice. But it was quite gratifying.

I only go to France to speak bad French, and visit my sister. :-)