Panier of Plenty

July 2013

Welcome to the visual diary for July…

From The Forest

View down the valley

View down the valley

Sycamore tree, view to les Albères

Sycamore tree, view to les Albères

Strange noises can be heard at night and we are yet to identify
the animals cries, which sound a bit like a dog but much ‘wilder’.
There is also another unidentified nocturnal visitor ‘crunching’
(acorns or snails?!) beneath the open window, that has so far evaded
detection by torchlight…

With the sudden arrival of ‘hot summery days’ parts of the river
are now ceasing to flow as algae blooms, yet we are lucky to have
enjoyed more rain than normal – there are many pools to bathe in,
and flowing waterfalls…

End of July: The humidity of the forest is refreshing – providing
a welcome retreat from the midday heat as I sit in a cascade and
read. Mina has presented 3 serpents – couleuvres – this month and
is regularly bringing mice to the door (parading them for praise).

In The Garden

Early morning in the potager

Early morning in the potager

The compost, hidden

The compost, hidden

Pond border

Pond border

Pond, 16th July

Pond, 16th July

Clouds cling to peaks

Clouds cling to peaks

Bordering raspberries

Bordering raspberries

A new perch – the pergola

A new perch – the pergola

Acanthe

Acanthe

Le cléome, fleur araignée

Le cléome, fleur araignée

Surprise mixed seeds produce cosmos

Surprise mixed seeds produce cosmos

Shades of pink

Shades of pink

Potting shed rose

Potting shed rose

Le pois de senteur (Lathyrus odoratus)

Le pois de senteur (Lathyrus odoratus)

Mouflier flowers

Mufflier flowers

Caterpillars produce butterflies

Caterpillars produce butterflies

Mid July

Mid July

July morning

Morning

Garden gate

Garden gate

Lining path

Lining path

Bees enjoy tilleul blossoms

Bees enjoy tilleul blossoms

Picking tilleul

Picking tilleul

1st July. As the sureau (elder) flowers finish the tilleul
(lime trees) are humming with bees as blossoms open. Wild
cherries fall by the roadside, uneaten, yet each day the blue
jays can be seen with our plump cherries in their beaks –
often they don’t get very far and drop their cargo in the
walled potager.

Tilleul (lime blossom)

Tilleul (lime blossom)

Papillon, walled potager

Papillon, walled potager

The potato patch

The potato patch

Early morning light, potatoes

Early morning light, potatoes

The potatoes are in flower – both white and pink – and content
after overnight rain. Tiny cucumbers and courgettes are forming –
although they were planted very late they have quickly adapted
and are now ‘taking off’, climbing their new frames made from
hazelnut branches from the forest.

After sitting enjoying breakfast in the garden the routine is
‘pest control’: checking for butterfly eggs on the cabbages and
eradicating hundreds of hatching babies. There have never been
so many insects on the plants, ones as yet unknown. Every day
there are new discoveries – furry black caterpillars, aphids,
stink bugs, stripy beetle-like things – all feasting and creating
havoc. Treatments are organic (like nettles and prêle), and we’ve
relied on companion planting, yet this year cannot keep up as new
challenges arrive. Tomato plants have been falling, one by one,
with a disease mounting the stem causing bumps to appear; I am
keeping a ‘back-up’ supply in the potting shed, hoping to save
them from whatever is flying through the air and touching many
flowers and vegetables… forms of mildew, rust or fungus after
the rains.

The melons are only just in their new home, a raised bed that
follows the line of the lower stone wall and offers huge slabs
that retain the heat. Many of the plants we put into the ground
last year are producing for the first time: blackberries from
the plant exchange and cassis. The hollyhocks (seeds planted
two years ago, harvested from the side of the road) are reaching
a magnificent height, towering above the roof of the potting shed
as the newly planted passionfruit steadily climbs the other side,
‘winning the race’ when compared to the clematis, jasmine, grapevine
and vine vierge that are slowly mounting the four pillars that
hold the pergola.

Clematis flowers reappear

Clematis flowers reappear

Rose trémière

First rose trémière

Rose trémières flowering (hollyhocks)

Rose trémières (hollyhocks)

Potting shed corner

Potting shed corner

Ricin windbreak

Ricin

Tournesols

Tournesols

Tomatoes, 30th july

Tomato plants, 30th July

Currently harvesting: Golden and red raspberries, blackberries,
cassis (blackcurrants), strawberries, cherries (with yellow flesh),
onions, blettes (silverbeet), lettuce, rocket, cress, mache, the
first courgettes and cucumbers…

Concombres

Concombres

First cucumber harvest

First cucumber harvest

First cultivated blackberries

First cultivated blackberries

Sunday 28th July. It has been a quiet month ‘online’ with our
satellite dish waiting repair (a long process of elimination to
find out where the problem lies), yet very busy as new produce
arrives and requires attention. The fourth batch of strawberry
jam is underway and cornichons are packed in ‘gros sel’ (coarse
sea salt) in preparation for jars of preserves – the first harvest.
We have been kept on our toes treating airborne diseases and bugs
with a nettle formula as the weather keeps changing – storms and a
heatwave have had many side effects. Plants have had a break or just
stopped producing and gone straight to flower and seed, as
temperatures continue to reach 30+ each day – due to the very late
start for the season, timing is way off and the results are evident:
hardly an almond; no quinces have formed; the figs are late; the
tomatoes are nearing the end of their period before they have a
chance to develop due to many disease attacks, as is the corn.

Cornichons appear

Cornichons appear

Coriandre

Coriandre

Haricots à rames

Haricots à rames

Courgettes rondes

Courgettes rondes

Courges (squash)

Courges (squash)

Courgette patch

Courgette patch

And by the end of July: Round, long, fat, knobbly, yellow and
stripy varieties of courgettes and squash, (with several ‘yet
to be identified’ after the local plant exchange day) courges
de Siam, patissons, slender green beans, cucumbers, cornichons,
onions, échalottes and potatoes, mache and salad greens, fennel,
blettes, basil, wild mint, coriander and nigella seeds, tilleul
flowers (lime blossoms), an entirely new crop of strawberries
and cassis. Although the potting shed reaches 40 degrees during
the day with the door and window open, plants are thriving and
the aubergines are triple the size of those in the ground.

Onions ready

Onions ready

Tomatoes finally, end july

Tomatoes finally, end july

The most notable change in the vegetable garden (when compared
to last year) is the absence of ipomée or morning glory, which
self-seeds and climbs to great heights. Dominating the potager
and adding colour, it provided cover for arches and barriers,
and crept all over the potting shed – this year a few tiny plants
are struggling to take hold and have yet to bud…

Panier 16th July

Panier 16th July

Panier 24th July

Panier 24th July

Panier 25th July

Panier 25th July

Panier 29th July

Panier 29th July

Courgettes, mache, patissons

Courgettes, mache, patissons

Exploring The Region

Feria de Céret

Feria de Céret

Taureau

Taureau

11th, 12th and 13th July Feria de Céret: corridas and novilladas at the arena as the centre comes qlive with bodégas and a ‘running of the bulls’.

14th July fireworks, Céret

14th July fireworks, Céret

Stadium de Céret pyromusical event… classical violin and rock timed with the display.

On The Menu

Cherry and almond tart

Cherry and almond tart

Saucisse Catalan

Saucisse Catalan

Pain de campagne

Pain de campagne

July 28th. Courgette à la plancha, cous cous with grilled vegetables,
fried courgette flowers, fritters, farci (stuffed), gratins, savoury
gateaux, tarts and pasta… courgettes are served every way imaginable
as we enjoy their abundance. Strawberry, cherry and raspberry frozen
yoghurt is whipped up in the blender – freshly frozen berries and
Greek yoghurt. Apricots are finishing (the rouge de Roussillon
are the best) as peaches and nectarines take over. Beetroot rapé
with walnuts and soft goats cheese, Provençal tomatoes, melon with
jambon Serrano, saucisse Catalan, a curry feast with colourful
condiments from ‘Les Antilles’, fruit sorbets and watermelon.

Juicy mulberries

Juicy mulberries

Cucumber and fennel

Cucumber and fennel

At Home

The grass turns golden

The grass turns golden

Los Planals

Los Planals

A wild bouquet

A wild bouquet

Les dauphinelles, pieds-d'alouette

Les dauphinelles, pieds-d’alouette

31st July, Mina

31st July, Mina

Papillon de nuit

Papillon de nuit

Mas, early morning

Mas, early morning

31st July. A beautiful calm day after storms, and green shoots are
appearing amongst what has been ‘crisp golden hay’ rather than lawn.
A family of blue jays are near the mulberry tree, harvesting the juicy
berries that are coming to an end. Canigou has one streak of snow left,
the roses have made a comeback and the potager has changed form yet
again – the crescendo of yellow has finished and a new wave of blue
and purple dominates as delphiniums regenerate. The day commenced
with jam making (strawberry) and lunch is courgette tart with thyme
and bacon…

New rose by the olivier

New rose by the olivier

By the potting shed

By the potting shed

July 31st, Canigou

July 31st, Canigou

Mas at dusk

Mas at dusk

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