Tag Archives: spring

May Calendar


I have been a bit neglectful in taking photos this month. We have been away on holiday and had visitors, therefore all these photos were actually taken on June 1st!

All our fruit bushes are looking very healthy, particularly our red currants and we look likely to have a good crop of gooseberries this year. Though the major success is the first blossom and fruitlets on one of our pear trees.

The potatoes are now all through and looking good and the two seed potatoes we planted in a bag will be ready in a couple of weeks. Peas are planted out and we have some tomatoes and squash waiting dryer weather before planting out.

The weather this last week has been very wet and everything – including the grass – has shot up.


We have also planted up a new border along the side of our drive, along with an unintentional stumpery.

april calendar 2016


We have had snow showers, hail, heavy rain and temperatures up to 23C. So a bit of everything this April. Potatoes are planted (Belle de Fontenay and Sarpo Mira) with the trenches lined with our first cut off the comfrey patch. Most of the other crops are know sown and are coming on nicely in the garden shed. (Peas (Provence), Kale (Nero di Toscano), Tomatos (Chico Rosso), Paterson squash)

The garden is also full of blossom at the moment, with some of our apple and pear trees producing blossom for the first time.

march calendar 2016

It’s always good to get the first veg started off in the new growing season and now we have  beetroot sown and potatoes chitting. This year we are growing three different varieties of beetroot (chiogia, golden, and detroit red) and two of potatoes (Belle de Fontenay and Sarpo Mira). No shallots this year but both red and white onions for a change.

Other things are stirring….


We tried a green manure crop of field beans in some of the beds this winter and they were a great success, so we will repeat next year in all the beds.


Dwarf narcissi are out and the daffodils are near bud burst.

Thats all from Grahy for March, see you next month!



Trees along the Montclard road



“…begin with the near and familiar. It is in learning to love and cherish our own little tree, or field or brook that we become fitted for wider and deeper affections”
R. S. Thomas preface to The Batsford Book of Country Verse.

We live on a tiny road, that winds up through the forest from the village below to our hamlet and then on to the next village about 5k up the road. Between our house and the next village the forest varies between conifers, firs and deciduous mixed woodland, mainly beech, oak and ash. We have walked this route for over five years now, in all weathers and all seasons, building up a large library of photographs. During our walks we have seen wild boar, foxes, pine martens, stoats, feral cats, ravens and numerous buzzards and failed to photograph any of them! It’s an ever changing scene through the seasons, with autumn possibly the star as the forest really glows at that time of year.


May Calendar 2015



looking south

looking south in early may

It’s been a very dry May here and we have had to water the plants on many occasions due to the heat. The picture above shows the Belle de Fontenay early potatoes at the start of the month, the difference today can be seen in the picture below.


belle de fontenay potatoes

All the main crops are out now with only the borlotti beans hardening off to be planted up next week, though we have the bed and canes all ready for them.

looking north over the pea and bean beds

looking north over the pea and bean beds

Many flowers are now in bloom and the currant bushes are laden with fruit. A lovely site every year are the egyptian walking onions as their strange bulbils develop at the tips of the plant.

The main problem of the month has been Voles! In particular the “Campagnol Terrestre” (Arvicola terrestris). They looks cute, but inflict terrible damage in the garden. They have taken over an old mole run (caught by our cat…) in the garden and have been burrowing into the raised beds and eating our leeks, broad beans, lettuce and jerusalem artichokes from below. Our cat has been helping as she has been killing about three or four a week and I had tried some non lethal methods to discourage the voles. All to no avail, I don’t like killing things but living off a small pension we do depend on being able to grow most of our own vegetables. So a lethal “piege” has been purchased and placed into one of the underground runs. We have killed one so far on its way to the leek bed and so far the leeks are now undamaged. We will move it around the chambers to protect the other beds as required.

Wild flower meadows

wild flower meadow

wild flower meadow

We have many old meadows full of wild flowers near where we live, and they are all looking particularly lovely at the moment. In a few weeks these will be cut for hay and used as fodder for the winter months, but for the moment there are a wondrous sight.

buttercup meadow

buttercup meadow

may flowers

At last, possibly some quince blossom!

quince blossom bud quince blossom bud

March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers, according to the old rhyme. We actually had a very dry, sunny April, but nevertheless, we do indeed have a beautiful display of flowers now that May is here.

The quince tree hasn’t quite made it to full bloom yet, but we have high hopes. It’s the third spring in the garden for the quince, and this is the first time it has shown any sign of having blossom, so we’re looking forward to seeing how it looks. Also, with luck, looking forward to some fruit.

Plenty of other flowers are already looking their best.

I think that some of these might be considered weeds, strictly speaking, but we don’t tend to worry too much about that. The cowslips in particular have been amazing this year, springing up all over the garden.

The one downside of the mild…

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April Calendar 2015


April has been a good month in the garden, with mild sunny weather so a lot has been done and everything is now looking very green. No time to relax though as last night we had a frost so we had to put fleece over the peas as a precaution. The broad beans however, should be hardy enough to survive a mild frost and are under enviromesh which gives some protection. The strange twine construct over the shallots and the potato bed is to deter our cat! Today, more potatoes to plant, main crop “Sarpo Mira” a blight resistant variety.

The week ahead look more changeable with the temperature rising into the low 20s again, but with more rain.

Looking south

Looking south

Looking north

Looking north

Three ways with wild garlic

The wild garlic we planted two years ago is now growing strongly in the garden and so we were lucky this month to get our first leaves off the plants.

They have a mild garlic/strong leek flavour and we used them in three different meals.

All recipes serve 2 people.

Wild garlic risotto

I have always made risottos using Jamie Olivers basic recipe from “Jamie’s Italy” but I only use this as a guide and below is my amended recipe.


6 ounces (170 grammes) arborio rice

1 onion

1 or 2 garlic cloves

1 small glass of white wine

1 pint (500ml) of vegatable stock (I use cubes)

handful of wild garlic leaves (to taste) roughly chopped

parmesan cheese


In a large pan, fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until tranlucent but not brown.

Add the rice and the wine, and cook the wine out.

Then add a ladle full of stock and cook out, repeat until the rice is cooked and the risotto has a thick soupy consistency. Do not let the risotto dry out!

Add the wild garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add a good handful of grated parmesan, and season to taste.

Take of the heat and place a lid on the pan.

Leave for 3 minutes then serve.


Wild Garlic Omelette

I’m not going to tell you how to make an omelette!

Just add a handful of wild garlic leaves to the beaten egg.

I also dot with goats cheese and finish the omelette off under a grill.


Wild Garlic Pasta


6 ozs (170 grammes) pasta ( I usually use wholemeal penne for this recipe)

4/5 anchovy fillets in oil

1 or 2 garlic cloves

4/5 chilli flakes

6/8 cherry tomatos or similiar

handful of wild garlic leaves

parmesan cheese


Prepare the pasta as per its cooking instructions.

Meanwhile heat the anchovies and garlic until the fillets melt and the garlic is cooked but not burnt.

Add the tomatoes and cook until you have a thickish sauce consistency.

Add the wild garlic leaves and cook for a couple of minutes.

Drain the pasta and add to the other ingredients.

Serve into bowls and add some grated parmesan.



Early april days

The weather is set fair at the moment and we are having a lovely period of cool nights and warm sunny days. The sky is strangely clear of vapour trails these past two days – french air traffic controllers strike!

Lots of work is getting done in the garden and the views from the road above the house are shimmering in this early springtime heat.