Tuesday, 6 August 2013

In the Garden

Oh my goodness, THANK YOU for the brilliant response to my holiday money dilemma. Such wonderful suggestions and tips! I don't quite know where to start but the main thing is I am no longer worried, I am instead very excited, so that is good. I suspect I am doing a fair bit of stress displacement here, ie. worrying like mad about holiday budgets instead of big things like jobs and how far redundancy money will stretch.

We (six children, seven adults) are staying in a self catering villa in a tiny village in rural south-west France. If you imagine a triangle between Cognac, Bordeaux and Angouleme, we will be roughly in the centre of that area. Most of our meals will be eaten at home I should think, so lots of opportunity to save money there. I will make sure I'm super organised and have drinks and snacks at all times for even the hungriest child. And adult. I've had a look further into boring things like mileage, diesel and toll road costs and satisfied myself that budgets will accommodate the smooth, quiet, expensive French motorways. There may even be shopping! There will certainly be wine. I am hugely cheered to learn that wine is cheaper in France than here which is no bad thing at all. 

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So, the garden. I've worked really hard on the garden this spring and summer and feel like I'm starting to get a tentative feel for what works where. I'm also realising what a responsibility it is in that, like a pet, it needs looking after if you go away. Thankfully, there have been lots of rain showers recently so I haven't needed to water anything for a while, but I suspect that gardens can be very tying

The thing I'm most proud of is my tomatoes.


They are still very green, but there are lots of them.


I grew all these from seed. They are lined up in against a west-facing wall where they benefit from lots of sun. Last winter the wall looked like this:


Bleak. The bricks belong to the side wall of my neighbour's garage. Between our garden and the wall was a gap about one foot wide, just big enough to lose all garden toys down and make the area annoyingly useless. Our garden is very small so every corner has to earn it's keep.

My lovely dad lined and filled the gap with gravel and it now holds a row of plant pots with my tomatoes and a few sunflowers too. We washed all the kids' smudged chalk off the wall. The ugly plastic table and chairs went and I found this little wrought iron set in the sale last autumn. It all looks much less bleak. It's almost pretty.



But the thing is, I have a horrible feeling that our tomatoes will be just perfect for picking while we're on holiday. That pains me! I'm not sure what to do about that yet.

We also have a lot of raspberries. Every year they just appear and I do nothing to them. They are starting to spread and poke spiky heads through the lawn so I think that, come autumn, I may have to do something pro-active and unfriendly to them before they colonise the entire garden.


The fig tree is showing fruit for the first time ever and I do hope it ripens. I would love to eat home grown figs. And the flowers that some of you very kindly identified as a type of allium have turned the most beautiful colour.


So, for the first time, I have grown rhubarb (a little), strawberries (a handful each day - enough to put on my muesli each morning for breakfast), raspberries (by accident) and tomatoes but we haven't eaten those yet. And possibly figs. An eclectic mix, but one I've enjoyed very much. 



35 comments:

  1. Ah yes - a bit of greenery changes things in a very positive way indeed. Well done with your garden - I don't think that our tomatoes will ripen before October at this rate and we put them in in February (can't win them all!)
    Best wishes
    Jenny

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  2. I can water (and pick and keep) tomatoes for you if required x

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  4. Your garden is looking lovely. My raspberries have been very disappointing this year. I've no idea why but I guess that's gardening for you! x

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  5. Pleased to hear you're getting excited about your trip to France. One thing is for sure wine is very cheap so that's. few meals sorted right?! Your garden looks amazing! I love how you've transformed that little corner it's looking pretty lovely. You most certainly have one serious mix of veg/fruit growing in your garden. I know that we will also be missing out on quite a few crops and I share your annoyance here. It's clear that all your hard work is paying off and yes it's very much like having another pet or shall I say child. Xoxo

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  6. It's all looking so lush and healthy. Your dad did a wonderful job with filling in the gap. Can you have a neighbor come and pick your tomatoes while you're away? They get paid in tomatoes and you don't have to come home to rotting fruit...

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  7. Oh it's wonderful! Ask a neighbour to do your watering, and in return give them some produce and hopefully they'll save yo some for when you get back! It's better than it all just drying out or rotting ....


    Have a fabulous time!

    Love Claire xxx

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  8. I'm so envious of your trip to France! I am glad that you're no longer stressing about it though, perhaps it's the thought of wine that has relaxed you ?? :)
    Do you have a neighbor or a friend that could come over and pick your tomatoes for you, and then save them for you as well? My mom and I are going to a farmers market the end of the month and getting tons of tomatoes and we are going to can them. I would hate for you to miss out on your tomatoes, especially since you've put so much work into them.
    I love reading your blog, it's so down to earth...
    Tammy x

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  9. Glad your not worried anymore about holiday money and so glad to hear your excited!
    Sounds like it will be amazing.
    Your tomatoes look brilliant mine haven't done much at all. Your garden all looks beautiful x

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  10. Glad everyone helped with your holiday dilemma. Hope you get to eat some of those tomatoes and they don't ripen an fall off while you are away. Have a lovely holiday.

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  11. What a transformation! It makes so much difference having greenery around. Most of my veg is in pots too and they do take some looking after but it's so exciting when things are ready to harvest. You might be ok with the tomatoes - mine tended to ripen late, so mostly in September, but that was without the great summer we've had this year. Glad you're looking forward to your holiday now. x

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  12. Beautiful garden and if you have someone looking over your house while you are on holiday just ask them tompickmyour tomatoes and have them refrigerated, they will last longer and probably be just right when you come back home. :) such a wonderful feeling to eat the fruits of your own garden... Everything tastes better :)

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  13. Lots of my garden strawberries and raspberries ripened while we were on holiday. And at the allotment, my friend's wonderful husband ended up watering it every evening as it was so hot and dry. He was looking after some other plots as well, and one evening he had four to water! Maybe winter holidays are the answer... Your fruits are all doing brilliantly, I especially love the fig, fig trees are one of my favourite things. And you've made a lovely job of the area in front of the brick wall.

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  14. If this is the first year of fruit on your fig tree you may find that they dont grow big enough to ripen, but come the end of the season, when it starts to get cold, say mid-october you must pick them all off anyway, ripe or not, because they wont ripen that late, and the tree will not grow more fruit next year.
    Hope you enjoy your holiday.
    Joy xx

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  15. Wow the garden is looking grand and such bumper crops too. Do you not have a kind neighbour who could pop in and pick your tomatoes for you? I hope you have a wonderful holiday enjoy the company and the relaxation those things cost nothing ~ Sarah xx

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  16. Hope you do get to enjoy those tomatoes after all the work you put in.
    I have never eaten a fig, something I should try for sure!
    Lisa x

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  17. Wow, looks as though your garden is growing really well. I hope that it all tastes as good as it looks. That bit of wall looks much prettier with it's tomatoes than it did just as a wall. Great job from your Dad.

    Amy

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  18. All your garden photos are beautiful ..... as always Gillian, and well done on all of your garden success, fingers crossed for your tomatoes! we had that with our strawberries last year, I was gutted when we came home and had missed the WHOLE harvest!
    Wishing you all a fabulous-wonderful-super-duper holiday!
    love jooles xxx

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  19. Glad you are looking forward to it now and wonderful that Rachel will be your substitute gardener ... Isn't the net wonderful. Maybe we should have a Leeds or skipton based meet up for northern bloggers (yarndale coming up soon). I read with envy about ones in London. X

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  20. Hi Gillian, Glad you're excited about your holiday now!!!!Your garden looks terrific!!!Sad about your tomatoes though!!!Perhaps friends or family can harvest them for you??!!!Have a great day!!!
    Love
    AMarie

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  21. We ask our neighbour to keep an eye on our garden in return for picking any produce he likes. It depends how much sun we have between now and when you go on holiday as to when they will ripen. You could always make green tomato chutney before you go.....

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  22. Your tomato garden looks great - especially with the cute bunting.

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  23. I'm impressed that you grew those toms from seed. They look very healthy (unlike the plant I bought from Aldi). Fingers crossed for ripe figs!

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  24. Hi there,
    I love your plants! I have done some gardening in our yard, but the flowers are not really eager to come out and many of the veggies have been eaten by slugs I think...
    I am catching up with your last post on money while being on holiday in France. I am French and I used to leave in the North East part of France. I agree that south could be really expensive as it is where most tourist go, but I think you can find many cheap (while tasty and good quality) options. Try to avoid everything that scream tourist. Prefer to go to market where you will find fresh products with attractive prices. It will be cheaper to go to the local backer, butcher and grocery store to prepare sandwiches for a picnic that buying already made ones. There are some supermarkets that I also find very expensive Auchan and Carrefour being amongst them. While I think Casino and Intermarche are cheaper alternative. Please also know that in France when you have a meal in a restaurant, tap water must be provided for free, but must be asked for. So when you are proposed with water, also precise you wish to have "carafe" or "cruche" not bottled.
    Hope this will help.
    Enjoy your trip.

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  25. I'd say that was a great success and I love the transformation with the wall area! France sounds busy and fun! enjoy, Heather x

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  26. I love your garden. I have a yard and know how hard it is to fit everything in especially when it comes to growing veggies.

    have you visited Rhonda's blog - http://down---to---earth.blogspot.co.uk/ - she has some great ideas on frugal living and how to save money.

    I hope you have a great holiday.

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  27. Gillian,

    Your tomatoes look wonderful. I've never grown them from seed - I buy young plants from the garden centre. And I love the way you brightened up an unused corner. So has the gardening bug got you by the short and curlies then? A tip - lots of diy and chain garden centres will be selling bulbs and seeds off at half price soon. Grab yourself a bargain. They will be fine for nect year. Then you can sow your own annuals too!!

    Leanne xx

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  28. Such great bounty from a little garden!! Enjoy the fruits of your labour!

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  29. I hope you have tons of recipes for cherry tomatoes cause you are going to have a plethora of fruit!

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  30. As long as you manage to keep enough red tomatoes, we love them roasted & then made into soup which freezes well & brings a taste of summer in the depths of winter. When we used to go away in summer, especially when we had an allotment we persuaded friends & family to water daily & let them pay themselves in produce! We always had plenty left for us. It can be a tie for them but if enough volunteers can be found it makes it easier!!

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  31. Fare your garden is looking great, I know what you mean about the responsibility of it all, luckily our neighbour watered for us over the fence! :) x

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  32. You have such a lovely garden. I bought some tomato seeds yesterday, they were a for a fundraiser for one of my coworkers kids (instead of the usual chocolate boxes - good idea, don't you think?). I can't wait until they grow to the same stage as yours.

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  34. Just look at all of those little green tomatoes. Wow!! I sure hope they take their time to ripen, and are just perfect when you return from holiday. Your trip to France sound like it's going to be just lovely! Your garden makeover is awesome! I love all the potted plants lined up along the brick wall. And your new table set and adorable bunting really complete this sweet little space!

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  35. You're going to FRANCE!!! How can I have missed these last couple of Posts How utterly exciting, I'm as green as those tomatoes :-) No seriously, so nice to have a little vacation on the horizon and I guess you will just have to live off Wine if money runs out - there could be worse things :-) Mel x

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