Over the Spring and Summer, the potager has provided us with a huge sense of satisfaction and achievement. Neil’s daily obsession to check if anything was growing soon resulted in some delighted shouts of joy! Over the year we have enjoyed an abundant and healthy crop of potatoes, shallots, garlic, onions, tomatoes, cucumber, cornichons (gherkins), radish, lettuce, green and yellow courgettes by the bucket load and a small crop of strawberries and raspberries from young plants.
One crop in particular gave us unexpected joy….melons! The plant went wild producing a dozen small fruits. Lots of nurturing, watering and protecting from the blazing summer sun couldn’t save them all but four went on to full growth and were delicious when harvested.
There have been disappointments too. The raspberry plants suffered from an incredibly wet spring, as did the gooseberry bush. The rows of carrot seeds didn’t take. Our newly planted rhubarb plants got off to a good start but some ugly looking shield shaped bugs colonised and destroyed them despite our best efforts to keep them at bay. We hoped for some autumn sprouts to see us through the winter, looking forward to them accompanying this year’s Christmas dinner, but they have been wiped out by a seriously hot and dry Summer not to mention an infestation of furry caterpillars.
The biggest challenge has been watering. This year’s long, dry and very hot summer took us by surprise as it did the locals who told us it isn’t normally so dry for so long. All of our water is metered so, in all likelihood, we’ll be getting a big water bill when Sogedo, the water company, read our meter in a few weeks’ time. We’ve just put in our first three hundred litre barrel at the rear of the newly built poolside abri and summer kitchen but that won’t keep us going through next year’s summer. This Winter, the plan is to place more water barrels around the domaine along with burying a reservoir made from an inverted fosse septique near the potager which should keep us going and reduce next year’s water bill!