Importing two messages from Marijcke:
From Marijcke -
i am new to this site and am looking for people who live in france, preferably the southwest to share gardening woes and joys with. this is my first garden - now in its sixth year, and i am learning all the time. is there anyone out there with experience of this climate, the soils and the availability of trades for this area? i am dutch, retired seem to have inherited my mother's green thumb.
Marijcke, you should probably start your own thread here about gardening in the south of France, to smoke out people who would be interested in your topic. I started a thread on growing melons the French way, and others have posted about typically French crops in the Rocket, Radicchio, Frisée and Mâche thread. I'm not in France but I really admire French gardens so I grow a lot of French varieties here and often have questions. I'd be interested in hearing about your experiences.
Welcome to Dave's Garden!
From Marijcke -
Thanks for your answer, greenhouse-gal!
I have no idea how to start a thread, am not experienced in this on-line interacting.
I have just packed my banana and orange trees in bags and sheets of special wintering foils - it'll be the first time the orange is staying outside. It is getting too big to move.
I still need to do some pruning of some rose bushes, but I think it may be too late now, for minus 6 C temperatures are expected early next week.
I had a spry 81 year old genteleman visiting me this week - he prunes fruit trees for a friend of mine, and agreed that mine needed a lot of work. He seems willing to teach my garden help how to do it. That too will have to wait a bit now till after the frosts.
If there is anyone who has experience with roses in southwest France - tell me what you do. My roses seem to have a will of their own, Some are fine and others terrible.
We don't seem to have a lot of biological gardening stuff around here and I hate to use the poisons...
The rose in the picture is one I am growing from a cutting taken from a friend's garden. I have no idea what it is, but I love it. I have two plants growing about 3 feet apart. One looks fine the other has yellow leaves and is scrawny. Why?
Gardening in Southwest France
Importing two messages from Marijcke:
By the way, you might want to check out the catalogue for Graines Baumaux
You may be able to find bio solutions for your rose problems through them. I have tried to get them to send me a paper catalogue but they never do, although they obligingly send me their email newsletters. The latest one is about protecting plants against the cold. I could email it to you if I had your email address, if you're interested. If you are, send me a D-mail (click on my name next to my post and it will send you to a page with that option.)
Where are you in the south west? I live in Toronto Canada but I bring plants and young trees to our garden in the South West of France near Tournay or Lannemezan. We have some roses that bloom beautifully but there are others that look like bare telephone poles. I find that they look fantastic when they leaf out but by August they are looking very sad. We usually have some bloom until Christmas. I have some fruit trees but they are terribly overgrown. I am never in France at the right time to prune them. I am half imagining that if I retire to 6 months in France (in 20 years), I will be better able to manage the garden.
Hi! I live in SW France, not all that far from Marijcke and have no trouble finding Bio solutions for plant problems. Round here the environmental movement is very strong and Gamm Vert has both "chemical" and "bio" products.
The rose photo hasn't come across, but my guess is that the "sad" rose peobably had a mould problem as we get very high humidity here.
On the other hand it might also be because we had a heatwave this summer. If it had too well-drained soil, then it would have suffered without a good think mulch. Round here roses do really well as they love the heavy, clay soil.
Gardening here is a challenge as we have such cold winters and hot summers! I'm no expert, but seem to be getting on pretty well after four years.
So, if anyone wants to add to this thread we could have a really helpful support group going!
There is another DG member who lives near me, I'll alert her to this thread too.
Thanks for setting it up Greenhouse Gal....and welcome to DG Marijcke!
Bienvenue, Fleuriste! Haven't heard from Marijcke for a bit, but I'm glad to see that there're people here who can help her. One of the problems with DG is that you have to go to the site to see if there's been any action on a thread or any D-mail to you, so if you get busy and forget to check, the topic languishes...I wish it had email notification set up!
It looks like you're west of where we go in France, which is around the Aude département south of Limoux. We have friends in Espéraza and Chalabre. I have an heirloom tomato from that area that I've shared with people here and they just love it.
Hi all, I've just found this thread. Agree with fleuriste that it is fairly easy to find 'green' products here. Yes, Aude is east of us and less humid.
Just like to say that the seed company (Baumaux) mentioned above is not a green company. I understand that they are trying to shoot out of the water any company backing the saving of old varieties (eg Kokopelli). kokopelli.fr is constructing a new website, so not available just now :(
I am shocked to see how little activity there is in this european forum and hoping we can renew some interest.......
Philomel, since I posted about Baumaux I have seen a lot of the information about Baumaux vs. Kokopelli on Tomodori, and I found it really upsetting. I haven't checked out Kokopelli recently so I didn't know their site was down; I do have their liste of offerings on my desktop.
You have had a terrible winter, with lots of snow and severe weather, this year. I hope the moisture is good for your gardens! This year I'm going to try growing Petit Moineau tomatoes, which I got from a French fellow in Nancy. I'm also planting St. Pierre, Rose de Berne, Noire de Crimée, Cornue des Andes, Couilles de Taureau, and Jaune Flammée. Potagere sent me some AOC Piment d'Espelette and some Longue des Landes plus a few other pepper types. I'm curious to see what the Espelette is like.
Yes, I had seed from Baumaux for the veggie patch, as well as from Kokopelli, but have become disillusioned and now buy in the local shops instead. Kokopelli do the local plant fairs so I buy from them there as well.
I'm about to move (only 15 minutes away, but into the Hautes-Pyrenées departement) so am not sure how my gardening will go for this year. Lots of plants to take with me - but a veggie patch at the new house, so hopefully I'll get some of that sown/planted too.
Those tomatoes sound good. My favourite is Cornue des Andes, but I've grown and liked Rose de Berne as well. That's a milder sweet flavour and they are an unusual pink colour.
Let us know how Espelette turn out please. I know I've grown them, and think I liked the fruit, but can't really remember (something to do with age?) LOL
Why have you become disillusioned about buying seeds from Baumaux and Kokopelli through the mail? That works well for me, and there are no local purveyors of anything at all interesting so I would be really limited if I couldn't shop that way.
Not a good time to move if you're a gardener, but at least you have a veggie patch awaiting you. Will you be in a different microclimate. If it's Hautes-Pyrenées fifteen minutes could get you quite a bit higher!
I love Cornue des Andes; it's so surprising to find so much delicious flavor from what's basically a paste tomato. Most of my seedlings are up now except for the Jaune Flammée and the Petit Moineau; I hop they sprout soon since I was really looking forward to trying both of those. The Piment d'Espelette are up, too.
What plants are you taking with you?
Sorry, I meant I was disillusioned with Baumaux and their attitude, so won't buy from them in future. I'll support Kokopelli and would certainly buy mail order once their site is back up.
I'm moving from one side of the Adour valley to the other, so similar height, but where I'm going looks a little more sheltered from the prevailing westerlies. Not so exposed to the south either, so possibly less scorching in the height of summer. I'm looking forward to finding out ........
Good luck with your seeds :)
oooh quite a list, but lots of old roses, which aren't long planted and OK to move. Grasses (some from seed), macleaya, penstemon, mimosa, albizea, daphne, abelias, sarcoccoca, evergreen climbing hydrangea, um probably lots of others - pond plants etc
Have already bought a named quince tree, and a few other things that some friends are looking after ;) LOL
Sounds like a good move for you, then. I'll have to look up the Adour valley on my map of France. You do have quite a list of plants you're taking. And I'm glad you didn't have problems with Kokopelli; I think they definitely need support!
Hi all! Back on the site for a "catch-up"! I agree with an earlier post, wish we could get e-mail notification of updates to posts we are watching or participating in. It would really help - particularly at this time of year when the garden takes up EVERY moment of the daylight hours ;-)
Ça va, Fleuriste! If you check in to DG on a regular basis the threads you're watching will pop up, so that helps keep you current, but if you're not checking in there's no way to know. I'm busy gardening, too, but it's good to take a break during the day, especially when the sun is hot. My garden's coming along well; how is yours? And I wonder how Philomel is doing with the move!
Here's my garden as of today:
What are you growing on the frame, and what are those tall flowers in the foreground? Great-looking garden but it looks like you're on the edge of the earth!
Is the climate about the way you expected it compared to your old place?
they'll be sugar snap peas on the frame - except the frame doesn't work, or at least the netting is no good, so I'll be replacing that with hazel pea sticks from the bushes.
The flowers in the front are lambs' ears - Stachys. The huge purple carpenter bees are besotted with them! :)
The soil is better than I expected, which is a real bonus. I think it may be slightly wetter here, but we are only 15 minutes away, so the climate isn't very different
I got some half barrels as a temporary water feature to house lots of the water plants from the old house
Interesting; I grew Merveille de Kelvedon regular peas, which don't need staking, but my Fortex beans are growing up string supported by bamboo poles. We have lots of flowers in our garden and it really brings the bees - and hummingbirds!
Your barrels look great; are you planning to put in a pond later on?
Yes, that's the plan :)
We've only been here four weeks, so early days, but I have lots of ideas going. The previous owner had put in some nice things, so I have a nice base to work from
Ah, I've grown Kelvedon Wonder in the past - very tasty, and good not needing to be supported. The sugar snaps have now been beaten down by the unseasonal rain, so I'll have to sort them out :(
This is from the bottom of the garden looking back towards the house. if you can see the bean support, that is for climbing bean Cherokee Trail of Tears
It looks like a great place! What fun to have a new canvas to work on. Still, we've been here for eons and it's also nice to have an established garden and lots of nooks and crannies done up the way I like them.
I bought my Merveille de Kelvedon peas in France and they're my favorites now. I don't grow sugar snap because we ended up not using them much, but they're a lot easier to deal with than Merveille - no shelling!
Yes, I just love sugar snaps because of the ease of preparation, and they are so tasty. I far prefer them to the mange tout varieties because you get the actual peas in sugar snaps and I think they are more tender and juicy :)
Interesting that you bought Kelvedon Wonder in France - they are an English variety named after Kelvedon in Essex......
Is that where Kelvedon Wonder came from? I should have known - Kelvedon isn't a very French name. I picked them up along with St. Pierre and Zenith tomatoes and some melons in a garden store in Couiza. I love St. Pierre tomatoes and have grown them ever since. What kinds do you grow?
My favourite tomato so far is 'Cornu des Andes' which was apparently found by a frenchman in S America and brought to France. They are a longish pointy shape, reminiscent of some peppers and have a good rich flavour. The other one I like, but haven't got this year, is 'Rose de Berne'. It has unusual pink skin and a mild sweet flavour. I haven't come across St Pierre, so will keep an eye out for those :)
Did you have any success with the melons? I've got a plant this year, so fingers crossed.....
Philomel, the ones I bought in France were Précoce du Roc; I planted them again this year and will see how they do. I also have Noire des Carmes and Petit Gris de Rennes and a couple of others. I had saved seed from a marvelous melon that we ate in France but it never did much and I realized that it may well have been a hybrid. But with melons I tried to prune them the French way, since they were old varieties, and found it very confusing to do that. Are you familiar with that process? Last year I also didn't know how to tell when they were ripe, so the turtles got to them before I did. What kind of melon are you growing?
The last time we were in France, in 2007, we were given two tomatoes and instructed how to save the seeds. The woman who gave them to me lived in a house that I had done a painting of the year before from a reference photo I'd taken. I didn't know the owners; I just liked the way it looked. We were standing in front of the house looking to see if there had been any changes when the owner came up to us and started talking. I showed her a photo of the painting and she was intrigued, and invited us in to see the house and the garden in the back. I took some more photos and she gave me the tomatoes, since I was asking her about her garden. One was a Cornue des Andes and the other was an unnamed heirloom that I've named Ste. Colombe, since that's where it came from, and have distributed it to friends and to Carolyn here on DG. Cornue des Andes is definitely one of my favorites. It has a fantastic flavor. I grew Rose de Berne last year for the first time and we really liked it, too. St. Pierre is a classic red tomato, a little on the sweet side. It's always the first to bear and the last to stop producing in my garden, and is smooth and free of cracks. I'm also trying out Couilles de Taureau and Petit Moineau this year. Last year I grew some Noire de Crimée but they did really poorly; before I give up I figured I'd try one more time. A friend in Chalabre in the Aude region really likes them.
My melon is a little Ogen type, called Santon, that I bought in the local Point Vert. I grew some others a few years ago, but have never got to grips with the pruning. I've read about the french method, but haven't tried it - how do you do that?
Love your story re the house and your painting. Lovely that she was into veg too and shared seed.
Have you ever lived in France, or do you just like it and keep up with things over here?
What's an Ogen type of melon? I could always google Santon, though, I guess! Here's a description of the French method:
There were abbreviated instructions on the seed packet of Précoce du Roc, but never having heard of such a practice before I had no idea how to apply it. When you try to do it, though, it's not nearly as obvious where to do the pruning as those diagrams make it appear, of course.
The tomato story is something I really cherish, and it's so neat to have the fruits every year. We have never lived in France; we were really tempted to look for property when we were there both times, but we have a very demanding place here and also kids and grandkids whom we'd hate to see so little of, so we realized it wasn't a good idea, either to move or have a vacation home. So we watch TV5Monde and read L'Express and try to keep up just for fun. We have friends there; one couple lives in Chalabre and the other just moved from that area to the Dordogne.
Here's the painting of the house, by the way:
hello fellow gardeners!
I've just joined, having only recently found this site ,although I've been a gardener, both amateur and professional all my life , which is quite a while ,since ,obw, I shall be 87 in a couple of weeks,and I'm still active ! My early garden experience was in England ,and I come from a gardening family .But I retired to France almost 24 years ago ,so I have had plenty of time to accustom myself to the cold winters and hot summers,with their long dry spells . In considerable contrast to the English climate,although I was born and raised in Eastern England which is almost as dry in Summer ,but certainly not as hot! You may have found my piece on Morning Glories which love this climate ,but always seem to struggle in the UK
Hello, Delille! This is a very quiet thread, as you've doubtless noticed. Where in France have you settled; I do envy you! Did you share the canicule this summer with much of France?
Hello from a stranger!
My husband has been ill so things have been way too busy to even get onto the computer. I have had to be housewife, gardener, nurse, ambulance driver, cheerleader and mechanic as well! Things are looking a little better now and I am getting on top of all the clearing up in the garden. With the evenings drawing in I have no excuse, time to check DG regularly again.
Hello and welcome Delille. I hope you have this thread tagged to watch so these rare responses are flagged up for you. As greenhouse_gal says, we are rather a quiet group here! Where in France are you?
Where is Marijcke? Has anyone "seen" her recently? Do we know how she is getting on with her garden?
An update on my garden this summer: The roses did well as usual with my climbing Papa Meilland throwing thirty-two blooms in the first flush of flowers this year. It is still flowering and I have two blooms on my Shrub rose "Pierre Cardin". The rest of the ornamental garden is ticking along just fine in spite of no attention at all this year.
My husband (Mike) planted a green manure last autumn after double-digging the whole veg. plot. I now have Brussel's Sprouts and Cabbage 'Tardive Violette" doing really well and loving the goodies the green manure put into the soil.
The natural wildlife pond looks very sad. We have had no real rain since June and the water is now only just two metres deep. I am praying the drought comes to an end soon as some of my waterlillies are now above the water level. It does look sad. Fortunately there is a weak spring under the deepest end so I just hope the water table doesn't go down or the whole thing will dry out.
The Orchard was finished last autumn with the planting of a Kaki "Fuyu", a Fig "Brown Turkey" and a red Vine Peach "Sanguine". We have three apples "Bramley's Seedling", "Reine des Reinette" & "Braeburn", plus a Crab apple for pollinating; three pears, "Conference", "William's & "Bon Chritien d'Hiver". These seven trees were all planted in 2009 and have started to fruit well already. In 2010 we planted a plum "Santa Clara" which is a bit like a Victoria and a yellow Gage "Golden Japan". This latter is such a sweet treat it is hard to leave them on the tree long enough! Last year we planted a peach "Pecher Red Top" for it's yellow flesh and an Apricot "Tardive" which flowers late (as the name suggests) so as to miss any February frosts. I had an "impulse buy" at the Rare Plants sale at Ordan Larroque last Sunday - a lovely strong Quince Tree "Gamboa". Mike says that it very finally the last fruit tree or he'll not be able to get the mower round the orchard!
Now Mike is on the mend we are hoping he can finish building the long pergola tunnel before the Spring so I can plant it up. The plan is climbing plants over the tunnel and ornamental grasses along the base to fill the gap at feet-to-waist height.
So there you have it, hardly any work in the garden this year but the promise of good things ahead Hubby's health and rainfall permitting!
Fleuriste, glad to hear your husband is on the mend! It's always scary when there are health problems. We just got back from almost three weeks in France, in the Dordogne and the Aude, and I'm catching up with DG. Our Fortex beans didn't do very well this year; they seem to have developed some kind of fungus and stopped producing. A friend is going to send me some Aiguillon beans from France because they are supposed to be disease resistant. We still have to dig up our sweet potatoes, and we did get lots of tomatoes even though we had some early blight on the plants.
I love Reine des Reinette apples! I'd like to find them here but they're not available. When we were in France I bought some to eat, though. Do you have any strawberries? I'm growing Mara des Bois; this was their second year. They're delicious but not as prolific as I'd hoped.
Hi Greenhouse_Gal! Good to hear from you. I hope you had a good visit to France. You are clearly a Francophile! Do you have a place over here or do you stay in Gites or in Hotels?
You are right about Mike's illness - it was VERY scary. Mike has a real bad rash which itches horribly. It looks like chickenpox! It is not an infection or an allergy! He has been going through a process of elimination of possible causes. If the specialist in Tarbes can't diagnose it then it's off to Toulouse to the University Hospital there where they can look for the more exotic causes. While he was being examined they found an active Melanoma. That really scared me as my Mum died of Melanoma. Fortunately they found it really early; he had an operation and was pronounced all clear. He just has to have six-monthly check-ups now.
Now on to the garden!
Yes, I do grow strawberries but they have struggled in the heat this summer. If you were in the Aude you will know what it was like. We had several weeks where the daytime temperature was over 35°C every day and the nightime temps didn't go below 25°C! The strawberries were not the only things that felt wilted! I have Reine des Vallées and Guariguette. I also have an unnamed variety; one that appeared as a seedling in our garden in the UK and which has beautifully shaped fruits which are solid and pink all through. Needless to say they are scrummy! I have managed to keep it going, using runners to expand the population each year. I just brought one plant when we came here. Because we lived in Stroud Green outside Newbury in the UK I have named the fruit "Stroud Green".
We tried growing Runner Beans "Scarlet Runner" as Mike loves them. They are one of the main eat-whole beans in the UK but did not like the heat here. Next year I am going to try an experiment and plant them really early in pots to try and get a crop before it gets too hot. They are not frost hardy so it is a tight squeeze between the February frosts and the July heat. I think they favour the damp cool UK climate. In fact, it is like starting all over here, learning to garden all over again as the weather is so extreme. Winters are very cold and summers really hot. It takes a special kind of plant (and gardener) to withstand that!
I was sorry to hear about your beans. Fortex are a popular type here but we do have it very dry in the summer with humidity down around 10%. What is the summer humidity like there? I don't know "Aiguillon", is it another "string" bean? I grow one here that is another "nameless"! Our old neighbour grows it and gave me some seeds. All the old folks round here save seeds and have no idea what they are called - but they all thrive.
My tomatoes this year are brilliant! I grew them for several years without much success then discovered a trick in a video on one of the gardening sites and this year they grew as big as small trees with LOADS of tomatoes on. I am still picking them! They are from the market stall and are a round "Grappe" variety.
I haven't tried Sweet Potatoes yet, perhaps next year.
Well, I had better go and type my daily Journal. I have kept it for nearly twenty years and now can't stop as my family look forward to the monthly instalments of "Life in La France Profonde"!
Hi, Jill! We had a lovely visit to France. We are friendly with two couples, one in the Dordogne and one in the Aude, whom we visit, although we stay in gîtes when we're there so we all have more privacy and space. We were only there about three weeks but we heard all about the canicule from our friends while it was going on. The ones in the Dordogne had a hard time keeping their garden watered because it was so dry.
What was your trick for tomatoes? Mine did fairly well but suffered from early blight so they gave up too soon. We used to have tomatoes through October sometimes, but now they don't last through August except for the currant and cherry types, especially the volunteers that sprawl on the ground and therefore have some protection from the cold. It looks like we had a cold snap while we were away, because the vegetation in our garden has gone brown and leaves are dropping.
Aiguillon is a French variety that's supposed to be disease-resistant. It's a stringless snap bean which I bought at a Gamm Vert in Chalabre. However, it's a bush bean so it's going to be a bit harder on my back to harvest.
I hope they can find what's going on with your husband and can fix him up. It sounds awful, but at least his having whatever it is uncovered the melanoma, which was a good thing.
Do you have a blog, or just a newsletter to your family?
Hi! Good to hear from you. Three weeks must seem all too short to enjoy France, but I guess the garden at home calls as well. I agree with you about gites, we much prefer to self-cater it gives you so much more freedom.
My "trick" for the tomatoes is so simple: when the seedlings are about six to ten inches high in their pots it is time to plant them outside; instead of digging a vertical hole and popping them in, dig a trench and lay the plant in with the tops just sticking out of the end nearest the support you will be using. Bury the stem so that it is well covered. Now treat in the normal way. In a couple of days the tops will have turned upwards and will grow on as normal. Mine ended up just over six feet high and I haven't calculated the total crop yet (I'll let you know). The reason it works - particulrly in a hot dry climate like ours - is that the stem of a tomato is the "drinking part" and the roots the "feeding part". By covering the stem you give it a chance to absorb all the moisture that is possibly available. Once my plants were established I didn't water at all, even in the height of the canicule. I could have fattened the tomatoes if I had watered I suppose, but I would have felt guilty with water in such short supply. Even though they were smaller than usual they were delicious; just had a very few (5or 6) with Blossom End Rot. When I dug them up to discard after our (early) first frost the buried stems were a mass of short, fat roots; that is what makes them so successful.
I'll look for the bean as I plan to grow them next year. I am sort of drifting into being the veg plot gardener as Mike doesn't have the patience it requires to nurse plants along when the going is a bit tough! Our Runner Beans were a complete failure due to the heat. They are a popular bean in the UK where I guess the climate suits them better. I plan to try again and get them started really early, in pots, so I get them cropping before the heat gets too intense. Great theory - hope it works!
My Journal started out as just something between my sister and I; now it goes to several friends (one in Texas!)as well as my sister, brother and neice. It is just a word document. I have all the very early ones as hard copy as I had a typewriter then, but now they are either on CD or my back-up hard drive. It is a way of keeping in close touch and my friends seem to like to receive it. I cover day-to-day life here, news and politics, the weather and anything else that takes my fancy! It also has its usuas when we wonder "when was it we did....???"
I am now off to plan Onion Sets (Snowball). They produce a round, white onion in the spring. It is not a good keeping onion but I store it by making Onion Confit which is very yummy!
Jill, I'll have to try your tomato trick. I've done that in the past when I've grown them inside under lights and they've gotten leggy, but not recently because now I put them into the greenhouse as soon as they get their first true leaves. Thanks for the description!
I have a group of friends who share a Yahoo list, and I often use what I write to them to remind me of when we've done what in the garden or with the family. Those posts come in handy. Even DH now asks me, "When did we make the second wine?", figuring that I've recorded it somewhere, and usually I have.
How is your husband doing? Have they isolated the source of his rash yet?