May, and it’s planting time!

My itchy fingers got the better of me and after a little rain and some warmer weather the last week of April, I planted out my peppers and chillies. It is always a challenge to get them in as soon as possible, but not too soon – peppers, and chillies in particular, need a long warm growing season, but hate the cold. Fortunately I fleeced them because we had a real dip in temperatures and frost on May 3rd. Weird weather! This week it has rained again (we really needed it) and the temperatures have risen, and so far the peppers are looking fine and I’ve packed away the fleece
Chillies: 1 each of Anaheim (great for stuffing) Ring of Fire (very hot!) Ancho (for drying and use in Mexican recipes) Serrano (my favourite for cooking) and two new varieties, Masala and Hyffae as well as a Dutch chilli grown from seeds of a mild chilli we always use in salads. 4 Peppadews for pickling.
Peppers: 7 Etuida (yellow) and 8 Lamunyo (long red)

Strawberries in full flowers, 2 boxes of peppers behind them. The metal rods lying on the beds are for staking the chillies

Thursday 6th May, having checked that there is no frost forecast until after the Saints de Glace days mid month ( I’m definitely becoming a French gardener! 🙂 ) I planted out my tomatoes.
7 Uriburi (plum) 2 Losetto (red cherry) 2 Cytrynek Groniasty (yellow cherry) 3 Maestria, 4 Previa

The cherry tomatoes are caged, the others staked.

A lot of planting done this week as the warmer weather continues. Planted out the cucumber Hillwood, and French beans San Soucy. Snails are my nemesis – I do use ferramol, the bio snail bait, but beans are their favourite. I put collars made from plastic bottles around them to give added protection and that seems to work well.

In the foreground are celeriac and celery, planted out two weeks ago. In the background peas starting to provide the first pods for me to nibble and the broad beans are starting to fatten up.

The butter beans Pienky Jas and sweetcorn Alida have both germinated well under fleece. Planted out 2 courgette Yellow Fin this week too.

The two quadrants still under cover will have another block of sweetcorn and butternut.

The brassicas planted in the first week of April and fleeced for a month have done well. They are now under a fine anti-insect mesh to protect them from flea beetles and so far it has been very effective. When I first started the garden, I used to plant about 6 cauliflower, broccoli etc – and there was a lot of wastage in the kitchen; now I plant two at a time and it is perfect for us. Often I am asked if I freeze many vegetables; I freeze only a little as I prefer to cook seasonally. I do however, make pickles and chutneys, and bottle vast quantities of tomatoes and sauces for use in winter.

2 calabrese, 2 cauliflower and 2 cabbage
Second planting of pak choi, (stir fried with ginger and oyster sauce is delicious!) cauliflower, romanesco and chinese cabbage. In the background yellow and red beetroot, lettuce and spring onions.

Fennel Orion is doing well; planted out a second batch this week, as well as sowing beetroot Waltham’s Green (a very tasty long rooted beet) and another row of spring onions Freddy.

Coriander Cruiser and dill Tetra Goldkrone now ready for picking. Another half row of each sown this week. Both coriander and dill tend to bolt when it gets hot, but I’ve found these varieties to be better than most. Still, planting half rows regularly works well for keeping a constant supply. Fennel Orion and chard in the background.
Fennel on the bed in the right, but the real star is the flowering chive plant in the herb bin! It is gorgeous and lasts well in a vase too.
The apples survived the frost! But no figs, cherries, plums or peaches this year after the late frost. I also think our walnut harvest will be impacted.

The Little Owl continues to perch on the chimney of the maison d’amis. I see him every day during breeding season as they have a nest in the old house. This year I was thrilled to find that our resident kestrel had moved from where she has nested in our big barn to the pigeonnier (dovecote) also in the maison d’amis

Blue circle is the kestrel nest site and the red is the owl’s. Lovely to watch them from the garden.
Male European Kestrel on the ledge of the pigeonnier.

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